Issue Brief 12-17
April 13, 2012

In February, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its 2012 Annual Report: Opportunities to Reduce Duplication, Overlap and Fragmentation, Achieve Savings, and Enhance Revenue, as required by law (GAO-12-342SP). The report identifies 51 areas where there is an opportunity to achieve greater efficiency or effectiveness in federal spending. Section I focuses on 32 areas where GAO found evidence of duplication, overlap, or fragmentation in federal programs. Section II identifies 19 opportunities to reduce the cost of government or enhance revenue collections.

The report is comprehensive, totaling more than 400 pages. Moreover, it identifies scores of federal spending and tax programs, sometimes within a single area of potential duplication. For example, area #28 is housing assistance, and the report observes, “Examining the benefits and costs of housing programs and tax expenditures that address the same or similar populations or areas, and potentially consolidating them, could help mitigate overlap and fragmentation and decrease costs.” The report includes a section describing why the issue is important and what GAO found. The appendix lists of all the programs and activities related to housing assistance, and the list totals more than 150 programs or activities spread across several federal agencies.

This Issue Brief isolates the areas, programs, and activities included in the GAO report that appear to have the greatest potential impact on states. It includes a brief description of the issues GAO investigated and a partial list (those of interest to states) of programs and activities identified by GAO as being related to a specific issue.