Department of What?

President Obama is thinking of creating a Department of Jobs which would merge the Department of Commerce, the Office of the United States Trade Representative and some economic divisions at the State Department.  Of course he will market this as a commitment to job creation, saving money and elimination of government programs.

There is a better place to begin and a road map was released in March by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) with opportunities to reduce potential duplication in government programs, save tax dollars and enhance revenue.

The report identified federal programs where unnecessary duplication, overlap, or fragmentation exists, the actions needed to address such conditions and the potential financial and other benefits or doing so.

GAO used 81 areas for consideration based on related work.  Thirty-four areas related to overlapping objectives or providing similar services to the same populations.  Forty-seven areas had opportunities to reduce the cost of government operations or enhance revenue collections.

The watchdog agency found 44 federal employment and training programs that overlap with at least one other program in that they provide at least one similar service to a similar population.  Only five had been studied to evaluate whether outcomes were the result of the program itself or another cause altogether. 

GAO said little is known about the effectiveness of most programs.  

A close look was taken at the military but they were not alone.  $58 billion at the Department of Transportation for over 100 separate surface transportation programs.  And almost $1 trillion in government-wide tax expenditures listed by the Treasury Department, some of which the GAO found “may be ineffective at achieving their social or economic purposes.”

One interesting tidbit:  at a time when the national debt has soared over the $14 trillion mark, the government has 20 different agencies – housing 56 different programs – all working on the same thing …improving financial literacy.

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