On March 1, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars and Enhance Revenue. The 345 page report outlines “federal programs or functional areas where unnecessary duplication, overlap, or fragmentation exists,” and highlights “other opportunities for potential cost savings or enhanced revenues” throughout the federal government.
The report claims that reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could save billions of tax dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services. Programmatic duplication covered by the report occurs in HUD programs as well as in economic development and homelessness programs.
HUD’s Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program is examined with other economic development programs to determine efficiency and effectiveness. The GAO finds the results to be unclear.
Specifically, the report notes that, “HUD does not track long-term performance outcome measures for its Section 108 program because the agency continues to lack a reporting mechanism to capture how program funds are used.”
The GAO report applauds the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) for providing a renewed focus on improving federal coordination among homeless service providers. But the report still found federal coordination lacking, as local service providers cite an absence of federal coordination “as an important barrier to the effective delivery of services to those experiencing homelessness.”
The GAO report concludes with recommendations for OMB and Congress to increase oversight over Section 108 and homelessness programs to ensure HUD and other agencies improve their collaborative efforts. The report also indicated GAO’s plan to further examine “the extent to which these [homelessness] programs have been evaluated on their efficiency and effectiveness and the potential benefits of consolidating or eliminating federal programs that deliver services to those experience homelessness.”
During the March 2 Senate Appropriations T-HUD subcommittee hearing on HUD’s FY12 budget proposal (see article elsewhere in Memo), Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) referenced the GAO report and cited the Section 108 program’s duplicative activities. Senator Pryor asked HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan why HUD’s FY12 budget request asks for a 100% increase in Section 108 funding, even though the GAO report demonstrates that the program’s long-term performance outcomes are not tracked. Senator Pryor echoed a statement made earlier in the hearing by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), saying, “I don’t disagree with the goals of the program but I don’t think I can support more funding unless we know those tax dollars will be spent effectively and wisely.”
Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME) also cited the GAO report during the subcommittee hearing when discussing duplication in federal homelessness prevention and supportive service programs that lead to fragmentation of service.
In his response, Secretary Donovan noted that, within the FY12 budget, HUD includes proposals for inter-departmental coordination as well as increased funding of HUD technology to improve program tracking. Secretary Donovan also pointed to the HEARTH Act, which provides emergency assistance to homeless individuals and families through coordinated HUD programs, and the VASH program, which provides vouchers to homeless veterans through a partnership between VA and HUD.
To access the report, visit http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11318sp.pdf