Tuesday, March 1, 2011

GAO Identifies Up To $200 Billion in Duplicative Spending

The Wall Street Journal reports that a recent GAO study noticed between $100 billion and $200 billion in spending overlap by the federal government.  I have to warn you that the article is a real head slapper, so if you have anything heavy in your hand, put it down.

Some samples:
"The agency found 82 federal programs to improve teacher quality; 80 to help disadvantaged people with transportation; 47 for job training and employment; and 56 to help people understand finances, according to a draft of the report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal."

"The Food and Drug Administration makes sure that chicken eggs are 'safe, wholesome, and properly labeled' while a division of the Department of Agriculture 'is responsible for the safety of eggs processed into egg products.'"

"The report says there are 18 federal programs that spent a combined $62.5 billion in 2008 on food and nutrition assistance, but little is known about the effectiveness of 11 of these programs because they haven't been well studied."

"The GAO highlighted 80 different economic development programs at the Department of Commerce, HUD, Department of Agriculture and Small Business Administration, that spent a combined $6.5 billion last year and often overlapped. For example, the four agencies combined to have 52 different programs that fund 'entrepreneurial efforts,' 35 programs for infrastructure, and 26 programs for telecommunications. It said 60% of the programs fund only one or two activities, making them 'the most likely to overlap because many of them can only fund the same limited types of activities.'"

This one is my favorite: "Similarly, it chided the government over encouraging federal agencies to purchase plug-in hybrid vehicles while having policies that agencies reduce electricity consumption. It said government agencies have purchased numerous vehicles that run on alternative fuels only to find many gas stations don't sell alternative fuels. This has led government agencies to turn around and request waivers so they didn't have to use alternative fuels."

No sacred calf is left standing: "[The GAO report] said the government 'may have developed duplicate' programs to counter improvised explosive devices, with the Marine Corps and the Army paying to develop similar 'mine rollers.' The Marine mine roller costs $85,000, and the Army mine roller costs $77,000 to $225,000. 'Officials disagree about which system is most effective, and [the Pentagon] has not conducted comparative testing and evaluation of the two systems,' the report said. The Pentagon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment."

So yes, Washington Post, the Republican plan for budget cuts may cost 700,000 jobs, but that may be because those jobs are being done in 700,000 other places.