Creating a 21st Century Government: Enhancing Productivity and Achieving Cost Savings by Reducing Fragmentation, Duplication, and Overlap

Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its fourth annual report identifying opportunities for Congress and the Executive Branch to reduce fragmentation, duplication, and overlap, and achieve cost savings across the Federal government.  In addition, GAO provided a progress report on its previous recommendations. 

We appreciate the valuable work GAO continues to do on this important topic. Since the beginning of the Administration, the President has made it a priority to identify and eliminate inefficient, unnecessary, or duplicative spending. 

GAO’s findings recognize the progress that has been made in addressing the recommendations previously identified in its reports. For example:

  • GAO found that Congress and the Executive Branch have made progress on addressing 130 of the 162 (80 percent) broad areas needing attention.
  • GAO found that the Executive Branch addressed or partially addressed 267 of the 323 (83 percent) recommended actions directed to the Executive Branch.
  • GAO found that Congress addressed or partially addressed 28 of the 66 (42 percent) recommended actions directed to Congress.

Many of GAO’s recommendations deal with some of the most complex and challenging areas across the Federal government. Fully addressing them is a long-term process that in many cases will take years to implement – a fact that GAO recognizes.

The Administration is committed to continuing to make progress in this important area through the President’s Second Term Management Agenda, building on efforts to reduce administrative overhead, cut improper payments, reduce real estate costs, reform military acquisition, and consolidate data centers. 

The Administration is also continuing efforts to reorganize and consolidate Federal programs to reduce duplication and improve efficiency; and the President is again asking Congress to revive an authority that Presidents had for almost the entire period from 1932 through 1984 – the ability to submit proposals to reorganize the Executive Branch via a fast-track procedure. 

The President’s FY 2015 Budget included a number of specific proposals to address duplication and overlap in the Federal government, such as:

  • Streamline Farm Service Agency (FSA) Operations.  The FSA is focused on ensuring that it has the right workforce in the right places to deliver the best customer service possible.  FSA has conducted a review of 2,100 field offices, and in an effort to modernize its field structure proposes closing or consolidating 250 offices as part of streamlining efforts that will save an estimated total of $39 million in 2015.
  • Reorganizing STEM Education Programs.  The President’s FY 2015 Budget proposes a fresh Government-wide reorganization of science, technol­ogy, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) edu­cation programs designed to enable more strategic investment in STEM education and more critical evaluation of outcomes. In 2012, there were more than 200 STEM education programs across Gov­ernment. Already, a substantial number of program consolidations and eliminations have been imple­mented or will be completed this year largely through administrative action. The Budget continues to reduce STEM fragmenta­tion by proposing 33 additional program consolida­tions or eliminations, and focuses ongoing efforts around the five key areas identified by the Federal STEM Education 5-Year Strategic Plan.
  • Expanding Use of Strategic Sourcing.  The Administration’s efforts to leverage the Government’s buying power through the use of strategic sourcing has saved over $300 million since 2010 on commonly purchased goods and services. Creation of central procurement vehicles that can be used by all Federal agencies has reduced contract duplication and reduced prices for some common office supplies by over 65 percent.

In each of the President’s first three Budgets, the Administration identified, on average, more than 150 terminations, reductions, and savings proposals, totaling nearly $25 billion each year. In the 2013 and 2014 Budgets, the Administration detailed more than 200 cuts, consolidations, and savings proposals, again totaling roughly $25 billion each year. The President’s FY 2015 Budget included 136 cuts, consolidations, and savings proposals, which are projected to save nearly $17 billion in 2015.  The cuts, consolidations, and savings proposals this year reflect the deep spending reductions that occurred in 2013, some of which have continued in 2014, and the fact that many of the Administration’s previous cuts, consolidations, and savings proposals have now been implemented. 

The Administration looks forward to continuing to work with GAO and Congress to maximize the value of every taxpayer dollar while increasing the productivity and quality of Government services.

For a Fact Sheet on the GAO Duplication Report, please click HERE

Beth Cobert is the Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget

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