WASHINGTON — The U.S. government spent $15 billion on 679 renewable energy projects at 23 federal agencies in 2010, according to the latest report on overlap by congressional auditors, who also found three federal offices responsible for inspecting catfish.
The new report by the General Accountability Office — Congress' auditing arm — found 17 more areas where federal government action is fragmented, overlapping or duplicative.
In two previous reports, the auditors found 66 such areas, including job training, food safety and numerous national security programs.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, who authored the legislation requiring the GAO to examine duplication annually, said Tuesday, “Every dollar the government takes from a single mom or low-income family to fund an overlapping catfish inspection program is a dollar taxpayers have to earn back by working longer hours.
“And every dollar we take out of the economy to fund the government's 679th renewable energy initiative is a dollar that isn't available for businesses to renew our economy.”
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the chairman of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said the report would help lawmakers look for savings.
“But just because a program is identified by GAO as potentially ‘duplicative' doesn't mean that it is wasteful or unnecessary,” he said.
The latest report says the Department of Defense could save up to $82 million a year just by coordinating the development of combat uniforms among the military branches. The department has gone from two basic camouflage patterns to seven, the GAO reported, and the U.S. Army is developing new patterns and protective gear that will cost an estimated $4 billion over five years.
At the Department of Homeland Security, the GAO examined 50 research and development contracts and found 29 — worth about $66 million — in which the contracts overlapped with activities elsewhere in the department.