Weekly Roundup: GAO Testimony on Efficiency and Effectiveness
Posted on: March 4, 2015

Opportunities to Reduce Fragmentation, Overlap, Duplication, and Improper Payments and Achieve Other Financial Benefits

http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/668828.pdf, Mar. 4, 2015

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) provided testimony to the Senate Committee on the Budget regarding opportunities for the federal government to save billions of dollars by reducing fragmentation and addressing improper payment issues.

Previous GAO reports recommended over 400 actions for agencies to undertake to reduce fragmentation, overlap and duplication, as well address an estimated $124B in improper payments.  GAO’s testimony to the Senate provided a status report on how many actions have been addressed (29% as of November 2014), as well as suggestions on how to tackle the remaining issues.  Cost efficiencies, GAO states, could come through strategic sourcing of contracts, improved fiscal oversight of social programs, and the integration of effective IT portfolio management techniques.

On the other hand, improper payments increased in the past fiscal year, which has been attributed in large part to Medicare and Medicaid programs.  GAO previously outlined ways to minimize payment errors and save taxpayer dollars, such as using automated IT solutions that monitor postpayment claims, increasing oversight of managed care, and implementing actions to combat fraud, waste and abuse.

A 2013 Executive Report from the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) highlights how the improper payments issue has been an ongoing challenge for the federal government.  In summary, the AGA intergovernmental roundtable identified several approaches to mitigating government-wide improper payments:

  • Improve ‘front-end’ controls,
  • Improve automation,
  • Conduct continuous monitoring and auditing,
  • Share best practices, and
  • Improve systems through workforce training.

A continued focus on improper payments and procedural redundancies from federal audit agencies, intergovernmental working groups, and private sector services will hopefully keep the federal government on track to fully address the remaining 300 actions.

AGA Executive Report, 2013