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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Less and More Than Meets the Eye in GAO Redundancy Report

In one of those apparently coincidental occurrences, the Government Accountability Office came out with its first report on federal redundancy only a few weeks after the administration announced plans to get on with the president’s pledge to do the same thing.

As deficits mount, a standard warhorse is trotted out, overlapping federal agencies. The GAO annual reports are required under a provision in last year’s bill authorizing the raising of the federal debt ceiling. The annual reports amendment was backed by Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

The GAO report didn’t really come up with anything new or unknown. Mostly the staff ransacked the files and compiled a cut-and-paste from countless previous reports detailing waste and inefficiency. That’s not to say the report has no value. It does. For one thing, if the government hasn’t made progress on the items, it’s not a bad idea to repeat them. For another, the sheer weight of having the recommendations in one place gives them more, well, weight.

And to be fair, the GAO report contains ideas far beyond duplication or overlap. For instance, it contains a long section on the improper payment problem that affects DOD, Health and Human Services, and several other departments.

-Tom Temin, FedInsider.com

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