Reorganization Idea Revisits Long Running Issue of Agency Duplication


President Trump’s executive order on reorganizing the government is the latest in a series of initiatives to improve efficiency that have had a checkered history. GAO has issued annual reports since 2011 on overlap, duplication and fragmentation in the government, centering on areas such as consolidating IT operations; duplication of efforts in purchasing commonly needed items; and the overlapping roles of agencies involved in financial regulation, among others.

While most of those ideas did not specifically identify reducing the associated jobs as a goal, that would be the effect in many cases; in addition, GAO has specifically recommended reductions in DoD headquarters-level work and regularly reassessing its needs for employees.

However, the most recent report, issued nearly a year ago, showed that of 544 recommended actions since 2011, only 41 percent had been fully addressed, 20 percent were not addressed at all and the rest were only partly addressed.

Agency IGs similarly have pointed out candidates for consolidation and regularly stress in reports and congressional testimony how many of their recommendations remain pending. The Obama administration made some government reform recommendations in several of its budget proposals, with little success in getting legislation enacted, while taking some actions administratively, such as by consolidating data centers and centralizing some procurement.