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At a hearing on the annual release of the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) duplication report, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., pointed out a problem with housing duplication as an example of lack of accountability in the federal government. He said housing is spread out over more than 20 agencies, so there is no coordination, goal-setting and accountability. Consequently, he said, housing programs are not working.

According to Enzi, this is just one example of duplication in the federal government which leads to overspending and unaccountable actions. He is trying to find ways to improve the efficiency of federal agencies and save taxpayer money.

“You get a lot of incentive if you give money away, but you don’t get a lot of incentive if you take money away,” Enzi said, speaking at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing.

Every year, the GAO releases its annual report on opportunities to reduce fragmentation, overlap and duplication in federal programs – as well as opportunities to save money and increase revenue. But according to Gene Dodaro, the comptroller general of the United States and head of the U.S. GAO, there is no mechanism to ensure agency act on their recommendations to save the government money and make it more efficient.

When asked by Enzi what can be done to improve efficiency in federal agency spending, Dodaro said there needs to be a fundamental shift in the culture of government.

“The culture of government is to spend money and to make payments as fast as possible,” Dodaro said. “That culture needs to change.”

Dodaro said rigorous congressional oversight is the only thing he has found to be successful. He said we need to force federal agencies to explain why they fail to take action on some GAO recommendations.