A new report from the Government Accountability Office identifies dozens of ways the federal government can save billions of dollars while improving the effectiveness of its spending – a task that will become all that much more pressing as the coronavirus crisis comes to an end and lawmakers begin to look for ways to reduce the budget deficit.
“The federal government has made an unprecedented response to significant public health and economic challenges as the country continues to battle Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” the GAO says in its report. “Once the pandemic recedes and the economy substantially recovers, Congress and the administration should develop and swiftly implement an approach to place the government on a sustainable long-term fiscal path.”
As in past reports, the GAO digs into the nitty-gritty of the federal budget, looking for areas of overlap and duplication that could be eliminated, as well as areas of fragmentation, where agencies could improve efficiency by pulling disparate efforts into one. The results can be remarkably detailed, and a good reminder of just how diverse federal spending can be.
In the current report, areas under review include everything from the management of “cell-cultured meat” production by the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture to potential savings in Medicaid claims processing and information retrieval systems.
The GAO says its reports have been quite effective, with its recommendations producing $429 billion in benefits from 2011 to 2019.
Speaking to a Senate committee earlier this month, Gene L. Dodaro, the government’s comptroller general, highlighted the savings that are available. “This year, we have over 112 new recommendations for consideration by the Congress and the executive branch,” Dodaro said. “The first has to do with leveraging the government’s enormous potential purchasing power by pulling together to purchase common items, medical supplies, office supplies, etcetera. There’s been some progress in this area, but there can be much, much more that result in significant savings.”