The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, Fragmentation and Overlap in Programs Highlight the Need to Identify, Assess, and Reduce Inefficiencies, on May 10. GAO previously issued a report on duplication among government programs, including those that serve people experiencing homelessness, in 2011 (see Memo, 3/4/11).
The recent GAO report says that three federal agencies - HUD, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) - have the primary responsibility over administering programs that serve people experiencing homelessness, and that some Department of Labor (DOL) programs serve the same the beneficiaries. GAO found that while the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) has taken notable steps in recent years to improve coordination across agencies, particularly through the issuance of the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, more work must be done to improve coordination.
“The strategic plan serves as a useful and necessary step in increasing agency coordination and incorporates some elements of an effective strategy, but lacks key characteristics desirable in a national strategy. For example, the plan does not list priorities or milestones and does not discuss resource needs or assign clear roles and responsibilities to federal partners,” says GAO in the report summary.
GAO recommends that:
- “The Interagency Council [on Homelessness] and the Office of Management and Budget––in conjunction with the Secretaries of HHS, HUD, Labor, and VA––should consider examining inefficiencies that may result from overlap and fragmentation in their programs for persons experiencing homelessness.”
- “To help prioritize, clarify, and refine efforts to improve coordination across agencies, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of federal homelessness programs, the Interagency Council, in consultation with its member agencies, should incorporate additional elements into updates to the national strategic plan or other planning and implementation documents to help set priorities, measure results, and ensure accountability.”