It appears the only thing NOT being duplicated in the federal system, is copies of the Government Accountability Office’s March 2011 report entitled “Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and
Enhance Revenue”, or simply report number 11-318SP. It would seem so since these programs are still in place, not-consolidated, and wasting more taxpayer money each day.
“The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the ‘congressional watchdog’ GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars.” Though their March 2011 report 11-318SP contained a wealth of information, much of which supports the recent Ryan-Camp budget plans ability to reduce spending without reductions in service, the recommendations have fallen on deaf ears in the Obama administration and to many in Congress.
As an example, the report discusses the opportunities to reduce costs and overlapping administrative functions within many (18) federal assistance programs.
From the report summary: “Domestic food and nutrition assistance is provided through a decentralized system of primarily 18 different federal programs that shows signs of overlap and inefficient use of resources. In addition to USDA, HHS, DHS, and multiple state and local government and nonprofit organizations work together to administer a complex network of programs and providers. GAO has found that some of these programs provide comparable benefits to similar or overlapping populations. For example, individuals eligible for groceries through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program are also generally eligible for groceries through the Emergency Food Assistance Program and for targeted benefits that are redeemed in authorized stores through the largest program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP—formerly the Food Stamp Program). The availability of multiple programs with similar benefits helps ensure that those in need have access to nutritious food, but can also increase administrative costs, which account for approximately a tenth to more than a quarter of total costs among the largest of these programs. In addition, GAO’s previous work has shown that overlap among programs can lead to inefficient use of federal funds, duplication of effort, and confusion among those seeking services.”
These 18 different programs, that spent 62 billion tax payer dollars in 2008 alone, could be cut and or consolidated without hurting those they are designed to help. How is this not a priority? GAO also states that 11 programs have not even been properly evaluated/studied, leading one to believe there are even more opportunities than listed.
The USDA has not done its job, but now the House Republicans can. Hearings aimed at cutting costs, improving service and devolving the nutrition function to the states with finite block grants (like HR 4160, the “State Health Flexibility Act”) would do the trick. It’s time to act!