- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 26, 2018

The federal government runs more than 160 different programs to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education — and it could save millions of dollars if it would figure out how to get rid of duplication, the Government Accountability Office says in a new report Thursday.

All told, 13 different agencies have programs, totaling $2.9 billion in spending in a single year.

“Nearly all of these programs overlapped with at least one other program,” GAO investigators said in their latest annual duplication report.

The report is now going on its eighth year, after then-Sen. Tom Coburn demanded the government start a tally of all the things the government does — and then duplicates elsewhere.

So far, the first seven years of reports have tallied $125 billion in savings through 2018, with $53 billion in additional savings projected in future years, the GAO said.

Tens of billions of dollars more could be saved if the government would follow through on more than 300 other recommendations that have been made over the years, but which administrations have either ignored or only partially addressed.

This year’s report lists 23 new areas of duplication ranging from huge bucks — the Energy Department could save tens of billions of dollars if it would come up with better ways to treat radioactive waste — to relative pennies, if the Pentagon tracked foreign currency fluctuations and timed its purchases better.

The Defense Department bought $60 billion worth of goods overseas from 2009 to 2017. But it ends up paying a premium in higher exchange rates than it would if it paid closer attention, the GAO said. Investigators said even shortening the time between disbursing the cash and making the purchase can save millions of dollars.

Being the largest pot of discretionary spending, the Pentagon is always a juicy target for the waste and duplication report.

This year’s edition dings the Defense Department four times.

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