Getting Rid of Government Overlap One of the Easiest Ways to Cut Waste

Published Apr 4, 2013.

The question of where to cut government spending looms in Washington, and while it seems there are few areas all sides can agree on, one place should be a natural starting point: redundancy and overlap by federal agencies.In other words, multiple people working in different agencies who are actually doing the same thing.There are examples everywhere of this, but very few have been acted on.“We need to cut spending now,” urged Wisconsin Representative and running mate to Mitt Romney Paul Ryan.“Making government more efficient,” commented President Obama.“A cut is a cut,” John Boehner believes.Except when the cut isn’t made. While everyone in Washington likes to talk about trimming wasteful government spending, it’s rarely done.“Members of Congress like to respond to problems and they respond to problems and they respond to it by creating a program and the other is that there isn’t sufficient oversight of problems that already exist,” Robert Bixby, Executive Director of the Concord Coalition. Bixby is with a group that works to eliminate federal budget deficits, and says this cycle is brought about by political turf wars.But one thing both sides usually agree on is that programs that overlap or are even duplicated are wasteful. Well, for the last two years the Government Accountability Office has come out with this report looking at just that, offering specific examples of places to cut.It found the Navy working to develop aircraft very similar to the Global Hawk, already made by the Air Force.It also found seven different U.S. government entities spread across three federal agencies which provide training to foreign government officials to detect fraudulent travel documents.There are also 56 programs related to financial literacy reported by 20 separate agencies.All of this are problem that leads to no accountability says Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn.“It’s the effective case of who’s the person in charge and are they effectively managing it,” explained Sen. Coburn. “Somebody oversighting, saying what kind of job are they doing?”A question often hard to answer, in the face of a carefully crafted budget.“Nothing got into the federal budget by accident,” Bigby stated. “Somebody put it there and the people that put it there or the interest group that put it there are going to fight to keep it there, and probably they’re going to fight harder to keep it there than the rest of are going to fight to get rid of it.”In the first two reports put out by the GAO, they found 81 areas of redundancy or overlap. Of those, just four were fully addressed, 60 were partially addressed and 17 had not been addressed at all. This year’s report comes out on April 9 so we’ll fill you in on what progress, if any, has been made.