APRIL 15, 2014
Here’s a shocker; countless programs operated by the bloated U.S. government overlap or are needlessly duplicated across a number of federal agencies, translating into huge losses of American taxpayer dollars.
This is nothing new and has actually been well documented over the years in audits published by the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Nevertheless, the feds don’t seem terribly concerned about correcting the problem. Dozens of taxpayer-funded programs at agencies throughout the government continue to overlap, especially in areas involving sexually transmitted diseases in minority communities.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) operates 10 different offices that provide the same type of assistance to racial minorities infected with AIDS and HIV, according to a new federal audit that lists dozens of examples of waste in overlapping government programs. “In addition, we found that the grantees funded through this fragmented system are providing overlapping services, meaning that the grantees are providing similar services to similar populations,” GAO investigators say about the AIDS minority programs in a report released this month.
The GAO includes “64 actions that the executive branch or Congress could take to improve efficiency and effectiveness across 26 areas that span a broad range of government missions and functions.” Besides health, investigators found waste in government defense missions, income security, international affairs and information technology to name a few. Among the biggest offenders is the Department of Defense (DOD) with eight similar programs that deal with prisoners of war or soldiers missing in action.
“Disagreements over roles and responsibilities have led to discord and lack of collaboration among the entities that account for missing persons and have impeded DOD’s ability to establish a community-wide plan for achieving the mandated goal of providing funds, personnel, and other resources to account for 200 missing persons a year by 2015,” the GAO report says. This lack of clear roles and responsibilities may lead to duplicative efforts, the GAO further states.
Another big area of concern is the overlapping of disability and unemployment benefits. The audit says that 117,000 individuals got concurrent cash benefit payments from the disability insurance and unemployment insurance programs in one year, totaling $850 million. The federal government is replacing a portion of lost earnings not once but twice, the GAO points out, and Congress should act to stop this with legislation. Currently, the law does not preclude the receipt of overlapping benefits, which is insane.
The new report goes on for 218 pages so it includes a lot of detail and recommendations from congressional investigators for correcting the problem. Most of the suggestions are common sense, though government is notoriously deficient in this area. Here are some examples of the GAO’s recommendations to cut costs: “Ensuring that only intended program participants receive benefits” and “improving data to identify potential efficiencies.” Wow, those are earth-shattering ideas that probably didn’t occur to any of the bureaucrats at the offending federal agencies.
At one point or another, most federal government programs have been plagued by fraud, waste or corruption and Judicial Watch has documented—and worked to improve—the crisis over the years. It seems that no agency is immune, including those with crucial or delicate tasks like the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Defense. The feel-good, social justice agencies like the departments of Agriculture, Labor and Housing as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development are practically cesspools of corruption.
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