A GAO report to Congress has identified several areas where the government duplicates efforts, creating unnecessary costs and inefficiencies, but also reflects an improvement over last year.

The 2012 Duplicative Program Report, recently released by the Government Accountability Office, identified 51 areas “where programs may be able to achieve greater efficiencies or become more effective in providing government services.”

Who is to blame for this maze of government programs? Very simply, Congress.” – Sen. Tom Coburn

The report found areas for improvement at virtually every federal department and agency. Divided into two sections, Section 1 describes 32 areas “in which we found evidence of duplication, overlap, or fragmentation among federal government programs.”

Section II summarizes 19 additional opportunities “for agencies or Congress to consider taking action that could either reduce the cost of government operations or enhance revenue collections for the Treasury.”

Among the 32 areas cited in Section 1 of the report include:

Cybersecurity Human Capital: The report said governmentwide workforce initiatives to government need better structure, planning, guidance and coordination to reduce duplication.

• Electronic Warfare: The report called on DOD to identify opportunities to consolidate airborne attack programs and get a “better return on its multibillion dollar acquisition investments”.

• Military and Veterans Health Care: The report urges DOD and VA to increase its efforts to “to improve integration across care coordination and case management programs to reduce duplication and give better service”.

• IT Investment Management: The report wants OMB, DOD and Energy “to address potentially duplicative IT investments to avoid investing in unnecessary systems”.

Among the 19 additional opportunities GAO identified:

• Navy IT Enterprise Network: The report tells the Navy that “better informed decisions are needed to ensure a more cost-effective acquisition approach for the Navy’s next generation enterprise network.

• GSA Schedules Contract Fees: The report calls on GSA to reevaluate fees in its Multiple Awards Schedules (MAS) that could result in significant savings.

This is GAO’s second annual report to Congress. The 2011 report presented 81 opportunities to reduce potential government duplication, achieve cost savings or enhance revenue.

During his opening comments at today’s House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform meeting, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said “one of our witnesses, Senator Tom Coburn estimates that this type of waste and duplication costs taxpayers $100 billion per year. GAO estimates that we could save ‘tens of billions of dollars’ each year by making improvements in these areas.”

The mission of the hearing was not to place blame said Issa, who chairs the committee, but to find ways “to pinpoint solutions and address areas of opportunity. Working together, Congress and the President can produce and execute efficient policies with agency officials, contractors, employees and managers, as well as outside organizations.”

He added “I have always said that the enemy isn’t the Democrats, the enemy isn’t the Republicans-it’s the bureaucracy, a bureaucracy that inherently resists change and adaptation.”

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK, pictured above) called the report a “sobering reminder and a revealing look at a government duplication.”

Coburn squarely put the blame on Congress. “Who is to blame for this maze of government programs? Very simply, Congress,” the Senator said.

He spoke of how efforts to address duplication have been continually thwarted by special interests, politicians who do what’s right for them not for the country.

“But, before us today, we have part of the answer to our mounting debt and deficits. This report provides a roadmap for savings.”

Danny Werfel, Controller of the Office of Federal Financial Management at OMB wrote on the White House Blog “we appreciate GAO’s work in these important areas. Big problems require all of us – the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch– to come together around big solutions.”

Werfel said OMB’s analysis of the GAO report found:

• Nearly 80 percent of the issue areas for which GAO recommended action last year, and more than three-quarters of the recommendations for Executive Branch actions associated with those areas (76 percent) were addressed in some way.

• Congress addressed less than 40 percent of the GAO recommendations that required congressional action (39 percent) in some way.

Calling the report a snapshot in time and not fully comprehensive Werfel said, “two things that Congress can do right now to reduce duplication and waste are to pass the proposals in the President’s FY 2013 Budget and to pass the Reforming and Consolidating Government Act the Administration sent to the Hill earlier this year which will set up an expedited process to review government consolidation proposals.”

Werfel said the Administration is taking aggressive action to eliminate overlap and reduce fragmentation administratively across government wherever it can.

“These efforts include consolidating 1,200 data centers by the end of 2015 – over 100 of which have already been shuttered and 500 of which will closed by the end of this year. We are also moving fast to cut excess real estate costs across civilian agencies over $3 billion by the end of this year, as we await Congressional action on the President’s legislative proposal to shrink the government’s profusion of excess real estate even more dramatically.”