Key Issues > Duplication & Cost Savings
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Improving Efficiency and Effectiveness

GAO’s 2015 Annual Report identified 12 new areas of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication in federal programs and activities. GAO also identified 12 other opportunities for cost savings or revenue enhancement. The annual report, GAO’s Action Tracker—a tool that tracks progress on GAO’s specific suggestions for improvement—and a new guide on evaluating and managing opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness are available here.

View the 2015 Annual Report

Use GAO's Action Tracker

View the Guide

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On April 14, 2015, GAO released its annual report on opportunities to reduce fragmentation, overlap and duplication, and achieve other financial benefits.

GAO found evidence of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication in 12 areas of government activity, and opportunities to avoid costs or enhance federal revenue in 12 areas.

All 24 areas are detailed in the 2015 annual report, and here are a few examples. Addressing concerns in the areas below could each potentially save the government billions of dollars or lead to other important non-financial benefits:

Area Type Potential Benefit
Consumer Product Safety Oversight Fragmentation Improve efficiency and effectiveness, and better ensure safety
Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Overlap Improve coordination among 42 programs
EPA’s and FDA’s Lab Inspections Duplication Mitigate potentially redundant inspections, expand inspection coverage
Strategic Petroleum Reserve Cost Savings Save billions of dollars by resizing reserve
Tax Policies and Enforcement Revenue Enhancement Raise billions of dollars by strengthening enforcement of existing law

Use GAO's Action Tracker

GAO identified 66 new actions to address concerns in the 24 areas identified in the 2015 report. These and other actions that GAO identified in previous annual reports are tracked in GAO's Action Tracker. This publicly accessible online search tool tracks and provides the implementation status of every suggested action that GAO identified in its annual reports. To date:

  • 169 actions have been addressed,
  • 179 actions have been partially addressed, and
  • 90 actions have not been addressed.

The federal government faces an unsustainable fiscal path. Changing the path will likely require difficult fiscal policy decisions to alter both long-term federal spending and revenue. Yet, in the near-term, executive branch agencies and Congress can act to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government programs and activities.

Opportunities to take action exist in areas where federal programs or activities are fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative. To highlight these opportunities, GAO is statutorily mandated to identify and report annually to Congress on federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives—either within departments or government-wide—that have duplicative goals or activities. In addition, GAO identifies additional opportunities to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness by means of cost savings or enhanced revenue collection.

In the first four annual reports issued from 2011 through 2014, GAO presented 24 areas where opportunities existed for executive branch agencies or Congress to reduce, eliminate, or better manage fragmentation, overlap, or duplication; achieve cost savings; or enhance revenue. Figure 1 outlines the definitions GAO used for fragmentation, overlap, and duplication for this work. In these first four reports, GAO identified approximately 440 actions that executive branch agencies and Congress could take to address the opportunities for greater efficiency and effectiveness that GAO identified.

Figure 1: Definitions of Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication

Duplication Definitions

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Definitions and key examples from GAO's work on duplication and cost savings.

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  • Portrait of Orice Williams Brown
    • Orice Williams Brown
    • Managing Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment
    • 202-512-8678
  • Portrait of Nikki Clowers
    • Nikki Clowers
    • Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment
    • 202-512-3766