August 21, 2014

GAO Identifies Billions in Government Waste

  • The American health care system is a patchwork of public and private programs that serve citizens in different ways, depending on their age, military...

A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identifies billions of dollars in potential savings that could come from eliminating federal programs with duplicative goals.  GAO recommends that Congress consider 81 separate areas -- 34 where duplication exists and 47 where there are other opportunities for savings.

Restructuring the military health care system, for example, could save up to $460 million annually. Addressing duplication in policies to promote domestic ethanol production could save $5.7 billion per year. Tens of billions of dollars could be saved by reducing improper federal payments and addressing the gap between taxes owed and paid. GAO also recommends increased scrutiny of the nearly 200 tax breaks that reduced revenue by almost $1 trillion in 2009.

Earlier this year, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House to create a commission to help eliminate duplicative, unnecessary or inefficient federal programs. Also, the President's budget included over 200 proposals for savings from federal programs. As the debt exceeds $14 trillion, this increased scrutiny of federal programs is a responsible first step, and Congress should seriously consider these proposals.