WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Wednesday pointed to duplication and overlap within the federal government, which, if eliminated, could save American taxpayers billions of dollars.

At a hearing entitled “How to Save Taxpayer Dollars: Case Studies of Duplication in the Federal Government,” testimony focused on a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) required by a 2010 amendment by Committee Member Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla. The report discusses duplication, overlap, and fragmentation in 34 federal agencies, programs, functions, and initiatives and another 47 areas where costs can be reduced and revenues raised.

“The results of this GAO report really are stunning, and we plan to ask the Administration how and when it will act on GAO’s findings,” Lieberman said. “I don’t know if there could be a more timely report as we urgently grapple with runaway debt and deficits, and the worry among the American people that our great country is heading over a cliff grows more anxious and deep.  The report provokes us, it challenges us, and most of all, it provokes the Executive branch to take maximum advantage of every single taxpayer dollar.”

Collins said: “GAO’s conclusion that the 81 areas quantified have opportunities for eliminating duplication, reducing operational costs, or enhancing revenue is an urgent call to action.  At a time when our country has an unsustainable debt of $14 trillion, there simply can be no excuse for such waste, duplication, and inefficiencies.

“This duplication and overlap serve neither the taxpayers nor the beneficiaries well.  To cite just one example, a low-income person with a disability may confront a bewildering maze of some 80 programs providing transportation assistance.   Perhaps the greatest irony of all is the fact that 20 agencies, housing 56 different programs, are all redundantly trying to improve financial literacy of the American people.  The American people can teach the government a thing or two about financial literacy: in difficult fiscal times, we should pay for something once, not dozens of times.”  

Coburn said: “Today’s hearing confirms what most Americans assume about their government.  We are spending trillions of dollars every year and nobody knows what we are doing.  The Executive Branch doesn’t know.  The Congressional branch doesn’t know.  Nobody knows.  GAO has identified a mother lode of government waste and duplication that should keep Congress busy for the rest of the year.”

The Committee is preparing several oversight letters on topics covered in the report, including FEMA’s oversight of grant programs, duplicative efforts to secure the northern border, streamlining mechanisms for sharing security-related information with public transit agencies, persistent weaknesses in the planning and management of critical research and development investments at DHS, and agency implementation of stricter rules governing award fees paid to contractors.            

Witnesses at the hearing were Comptroller General Gene Dodaro; Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra; and Dan Gordon, Administrator of the Office and Management Budget’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy.