GAO identifies 'tens of billions' in potential government savings

GAO identifies 'tens of billions' in potential government savings
© Getty Images

The government could save tens of billions of dollars by addressing 467 issues, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in its annual report released Tuesday. 

The report found, for example, that the Navy could save billions by improving its acquisition practices.

"GAO found 150 examples of systemic maintenance problems, such as failed engines and non-functional plumbing," GAO said.


It added that it would cost $4.2 billion to fix just 30 percent of those problems and that "Many of these problems could have been prevented with some attention to future maintenance concerns when designing and building the ships."

It also said for the second year in a row that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) could improve oversight for disaster relief funding for "significant cost savings."

OMB pushed back on the finding, as it did in 2019. 

"OMB disagreed with this recommendation and stated that it does not believe timeliness and sufficiency of internal control plans present material issues that warranted OMB action," the GAO report stated.

The report said the Defense Department could save hundreds of millions that go toward unfinished work at military depots, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services could save tens of millions by pushing states to implement screening and enrollment requirements for providers, and that the Government National Mortgage Association could save tens of millions of dollars through making its operations more efficient.

It also pointed to outstanding issues, such unfulfilled recommendations on low-activity waste that could save the Department of Energy tens of billions of dollars, as well as IRS efforts to combat identity theft refund fraud that could save billions.


The report comes as the nation faces steep economic challenges. The federal deficit is on track to hit a record of $3.7 trillion this year, 2.5 times larger than the highest on record, as the government moves to keep the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Economists say that when the downturn ends, the government will need to find a credible plan to reduce deficits and the overall debt. 

In the last decade, GAO said, its recommendations had saved the government an estimated $429 billion.