October 24, 2014

Federal Agencies Should Take GAO’s Advice More Often

  • The federal budget is an expression of our country's values. Where we choose to spend and at what levels, how and who we tax, and the borrowing we...

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released its fourth annual report detailing specific ways in which Congress and federal agencies can improve efficiency by reducing fragmentation, overlap and duplication.

Politicians too often vaguely suggest that eliminating waste, fraud and abuse can fix the deficit problem. This report series, though, gives policymakers specific actions they can take to both save money and improve public services.

In addition, such effective oversight of federal spending could help elected officials build the public credibility needed to move on to larger reforms.

The report recommends 64 actions that Congress or the executive branch could take. For example:

  • The departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Treasury could pursue a joint project to modernize their wireless communications systems instead of having each department conduct an independent project.
  • The government could consolidate the funding streams and programs that help minority communities affected by the HIV/AIDS virus.
  • The Pentagon could better coordinate its work in contracting with health care professionals.

Recommended steps taken by Congress and the administration saved $10 billion from fiscal 2011 to 2013. But much more remains to be done; of the 380 recommendations in GAO’s reports from that period, 246 remain partially or completely unaddressed.