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Duplication & Cost Savings Medallion

Duplication & Cost Savings

GAO releases an annual report on opportunities to reduce fragmentation, overlap, and duplication, as well as reduce costs and increase revenue, for the federal government.


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2018 Overview


New Areas of Concern in 2018

On April 26, 2018, GAO released its annual report on opportunities to reduce fragmentation, overlap, and duplication in federal programs—as well as opportunities to save money and increase revenue. So far, our annual reports have helped the federal government save over $175 billion!

Additionally, we updated our Action Tracker, an online tool that monitors the progress Congress and federal agencies have made in addressing the actions we’ve identified.

This report includes 13 new areas of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication in government activity, and 10 new areas where the government can achieve cost savings or increase federal revenue.

Examples:

Area Type Potential Benefit
Coast Guard Boat Stations Duplication Save millions of dollars by closing unnecessarily duplicative search and rescue boat stations
DOD Distribution Centers Overlap Minimize overlap by better managing DOD's troop support distribution centers to save hundreds of millions of dollars
Graduate Medical Education Funding Fragmentation Better coordinate the oversight of fragmented federal funding for physician residency training
DOD's Foreign Currency Funds Cost Savings Improve how DOD manages its foreign currency funds to potentially save millions of dollars
Tax Fraud and Noncompliance Revenue Enhancement Prevent millions of dollars being paid to fraudsters by holding refunds to verify information

View the 2018 Report

So, what's new this year? And which agencies have the most work to do? Listen to our podcast about this year’s report to find out more.


Actions that Could Save Billions of Dollars


Some actions we’ve identified over the years—still unaddressed—that could each save a billion dollars or more:

  • Congress could prevent people from collecting both full Disability Insurance benefits and Unemployment Insurance benefits for the same time period which could save up to $2.5 billion over 10 years. Learn more >
  • Medicare could save $1-$2 billion dollars annually if Congress equalized the rates Medicare pays for certain health care services (payment rates currently vary by location). Learn more >
  • Limiting or reducing the subsidy that farmers receive to purchase crop insurance could save up to $1.4 billion a year. Learn more >
  • The Internal Revenue Service could save billions of dollars by improving its efforts to prevent identity theft refund fraud.  Learn more >
  • Better oversight of federal IT investments could save billions of dollars. Learn more >

GAO Contacts

  • Portrait of Chris Mihm
    • J. Christopher Mihm
    • Managing Director, Strategic Issues
    • MihmJ@gao.gov
    • 202-512-6806
  • Portrait of Jessica Lucas-Judy

Action Tracker

GAO’s Action Tracker is an interactive online tool that tracks the progress that Congress and federal agencies have made in reducing duplication, overlap, and fragmentation—and reducing costs and increasing revenue—that GAO identifies in its annual report. Fully addressing every action in this tool would result in tens of billions in savings for the federal government.

Explore Actions by All Areas

Select one or several checkboxes and click "GO" to explore the action items that we have identified by all areas. You can also then sort by status (open, open with some progress made, open with no progress made, and closed) by choosing from the drop-down menu.

Once you click on a specific area, you will see all of its related actions. You can also download the entire Action Tracker spreadsheet file (XLSX or CSV).

Explore Actions by Duplicaton, Overlap, and Fragmentation

Select one or several checkboxes and click "GO" to explore the action items that we have identified by all areas. You can also then sort by status (open, open with some progress made, open with no progress made, and closed) by choosing from the drop-down menu.

Once you click on a specific area, you will see all of its related actions. You can also download the entire Action Tracker spreadsheet file (XLSX or CSV).

Explore Actions by Cost Savings and Revenue Enhancements

Select one or several checkboxes and click "GO" to explore the action items that we have identified by all areas. You can also then sort by status (open, open with some progress made, open with no progress made, and closed) by choosing from the drop-down menu.

Once you click on a specific area, you will see all of its related actions. You can also download the entire Action Tracker spreadsheet file (XLSX or CSV).

Background


About This Work

The federal government is spending a lot more money than it is collecting, and addressing this issue will require changes to both federal spending and revenue policies.

However, Congress and federal agencies could act now to address federal programs or activities that are fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative—which would save the government billions of dollars.

Definitions of Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication

Duplication Definitions

In our first 7 annual reports (2011 through 2017), GAO presented 724 actions to Congress or federal agencies. Congress and federal agencies have already addressed over half of these actions—resulting in over $175 billion in financial benefits.

In total (since 2011), Congress and federal agencies have:

  • Addressed 376 actions
  • Partially addressed 175 actions
  • Not addressed 122 actions
  • 51 other actions were consolidated or closed as not addressed

Methodology

To examine progress on fragmentation, overlap, and duplication, as well as cost savings and revenue enhancement, we review relevant legislation and documents such as budgets, policies, strategic and implementation plans, and guidance. We used the following criteria to assess the status of areas and actions.

  • We determined that an area was "addressed" if all actions in that area were addressed; "partially addressed" if at least one action needed in that area showed some progress toward implementation but not all actions were addressed; and "not addressed" if none of the actions needed in that area were addressed or partially addressed.
  • For Congress, we determined that an action was “addressed” if relevant legislation was enacted and addressed all aspects of the action needed; “partially addressed” if a relevant bill passed a committee, the House of Representatives, or the Senate during the current congressional session, or relevant legislation was enacted but only addressed part of the action needed; and “not addressed” when a bill was introduced but did not pass out of a committee, or no relevant legislation was introduced. At the beginning of a new congressional session, we reapply the criteria—so the status of an action may move from “partially addressed” to “not addressed” if relevant legislation is not reintroduced from the prior congressional session.
  • For the executive branch, we determined that an action was “addressed” if implementation of the action needed was completed; “partially addressed” when the action needed is in development, or started but not yet completed; and “not addressed” when the administration, the agencies, or both made minimal or no progress toward implementing the action needed.
  • We determined that an action was categorized as "other" if it has been “consolidated” or “closed-not addressed” and will no longer be assessed. In most cases, “consolidated” actions were replaced or subsumed by new actions based on additional audit work or other relevant information. Actions are generally “closed-not addressed” when the action is no longer relevant due to changing circumstances.

In calculating our total financial benefits, we relied on individual estimates from a variety of sources, which considered different time periods and utilized different data sources, assumptions, and methodologies. The total represents a rough estimate of financial benefits.

We update the Action Tracker twice a year, in the spring and fall. For the most up-to-date status on the recommendations, please visit their related reports listed below.


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