Chairman Thompson Tackles Government Duplication

Washington, DC — Recognizing that too many federal programs do the same thing, Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson has asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to find out how agencies can work together to coordinate duplicative activities.

The GAO has come up with a list of entities established or mandated by Congress whose sole responsibility is the coordination of multiple federal programs that do the same thing. Among the list of coordinating entities that are the subject of the GAO study are the Digestive Diseases Interagency Coordinating Committee, the Subcommittee on Global Change Research, as well as the Suspicious Orders Task Force. The GAO is currently in the process of compiling the characteristics of these entities and analyzing their performance.

?Leave it to Washington to address this problem of too many federal programs doing the same job by establishing even more federal programs,? Thompson wrote in a recent letter to his colleagues. ?But the problem with all of these ?interagency coordination? groups is that we know nothing about them. We are unclear about what they?re doing, who they?re accountable to, and whether they ever report back to Congress.?

In its January 1999 report on ?Major Management Challenges and Program Risks,? the General Accounting Office wrote, ?In program area after program area, we have found that unfocused and uncoordinated crosscutting programs waste scarce funds, confuse and frustrate taxpayers and other customers, and limit overall program effectiveness.?

Senator Thompson contacted the GAO to address this issue. GAO will identify the ?interagency coordinating entities? established or mandated by Congress, describe the characteristics of these entities, and analyze their performance.