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Federal watchdog identifies tens of billions of dollars of government waste

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A recent federal report shows areas of waste and duplication among federal agencies costing taxpayers big time.

The annual Government Accountability Office report on “fragmentation, overlap and duplication” has regularly highlighted major areas of federal waste. This time around, the report found 42 areas where waste could be cleaned up and billions saved.

The findings and recommendations vary widely, such as $2 billion in savings over ten years if the feds verified income data for income-driven student loan repayment plans. Another recommendation says $141 billion could be saved over ten years if “the Secretary of Health and Human Services to equalize payment rates between settings for evaluation and management office visits,” another of dozens of recommendations.

“Our oversight this Congress has uncovered different ways federal programs have fallen short in efforts to achieve their missions on behalf of the American taxpayer,” Subcommittee on Government Operations and the Federal Workforce Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said at a committee hearing Thursday

Sessions also said that since the Congress began requiring the report, which GAO says has saved $667 billion since its inception.

GAO recommended 112 measures this year to improve efficiency and save tax dollars. So far, GAO says Congress has only fully addressed about two thirds of its recommendations since 2011.

“The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency should ensure its working capital fund cash balance is within its operating range, potentially saving its federal customers hundreds of millions of dollars through reduced prices,” GAO said. “Congress and the Internal Revenue Service should take action to improve sole proprietor tax compliance, which could increase revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars per year.”

From building maintenance to staff overlap and more, GAO found a litany of government waste.

From GAO:

“Agencies could save one hundred million dollars or more by using predictive models to make investment decisions on deferred maintenance and repair for federal buildings and could save ten million dollars or more over 5 years by setting building utilization benchmarks to help identify and reduce underused office space.

Congress should consider taking action that could help the Armed Forces Retirement Home address financial shortfalls to reduce the risk of exhausting the trust fund that supports it. This could potentially generate revenue of one hundred million dollars or more over 10 years. The Department of Defense should reduce the risk of overlapping management activities and potentially save ten million dollars or more over 5 years in medical facility management. It could do so by continuing its efforts to reevaluate its market structure and establishing performance goals.”

Gene Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO, said in the report’s release that if Congress followed this year’s recommendations as well as past recommendations that have not been carried out, tens of billions of taxpayer dollars could be saved.

“Implementation of these recommendations has also achieved additional benefits, such as improved interagency coordination and reduced mismanagement, fraud, waste, and abuse,” GAO said.

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