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GAO Report: Runaway Federal Spending

Updated on April 29, 2013

March 1st, 2011: The US Government Accountability Office (or GAO) released a report that confirms what many of us have known for years (click here for the report). Each year, between 100 and 200 billion of the taxpayer’s dollars are wasted due to overlap of government programs. While $200 billion is a rather small portion of the over $3 trillion in federal spending, this should be a no-brainer as far as a place to cut the federal budget. Here is a list of some overlapping programs from the report:

  • 15 Food Safety Programs
  • 47 Job Training and Development Programs
  • 56 Financial Literacy Programs
  • 20 Programs for the Homeless
  • 80 Economic Development Programs
  • 82 Teacher Improvement Programs

While one would think that this incredible level of overlap would mean that all areas of importance are being addressed, this is not the case. Often, the programs are in separate agencies and, as the saying goes, “the left doesn’t know what the right is doing”. Consider the following:

  • Programs for Teacher Improvement span ten different agencies and there are many duplicate “sub-goals”. There are nine that address teacher quality in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. (And when I see the quality of teacher performance in my school district, I have to wonder how effective these programs are.)
  • Homeless programs are found in seven agencies, spend $2.9 in 2009. However, there is no coordination of the programs, so certain areas are overlapped by multiple programs, while other areas are completely neglected. The GAO recommends that the Director of Health and Human Services (or HHS) coordinate services to better utilize the funds available in the federal budget.
  • One federal agency encourages the federal government to purchase plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, while another federal agency is trying to reduce electric use by the federal government.

Another common theme seems to be the total lack of accountability; there is no paper trail to show where the money was spent. In this regard, the Department of Defense (or DOD) is especially negligent. The DOD has multiple ways that it could save money by better tracking and accountability. The report also pointed out that billions could be saved if the Department of Defense and the Veteran’s Administration (or VA) jointly controlled drug costs and modernized medical records.

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So with all of this waste, will there be any action to clean this mess up? Granted, we can’t blame the current Congress or President for this mess, as it has been decades in the making. But something should be done. After all, for the past two years, haven’t we heard from President Obama about how he will reduce wasteful spending? Could eliminating this waste be something that both Republicans and Democrats get behind?

If there is going to be a driving force behind cleaning up this waste, I think it is going to have to come from those fiscal hawks elected to Congress in November of 2010. Too many of the old hands in Washington, both Republican and Democrat, don’t have the will or backbone to cut any government program. And forget any push from President Obama. His 2011 budget, with its so called tough decisions, was nothing short of a joke. Let’s face it, President Obama believes in big government, with government employment being the number one job creator. He has done nothing about the important issues of the day, like:

  • Oil Independence
  • Debt Reduction
  • Deficit Reduction
  • Trade Deficit
  • Social Security Reform

What on earth would make one believe President Obama would tackle waste in the federal budget? Let's focus on getting our new Congressmen to move on this, as I believe they represent true "Hope and Change".

I hope you have enjoyed this article. Please feel free to leave comments below. Be sure to stop by my blog at for great money-saving advice!


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      Eileen 4 years ago

      Might the overlap and/or waste be what Obama wants as it helps his attempts to hide and confuse others regarding his negligence? For example, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, Solindra, etc.