Plenty of waste. Easy to find, really. No surprise there. It’s part of the standard folklore, the outlandish and obscure studies, the ‘bridge to nowhere’ tales. But now it turns up the feds are spending exhorbitant amounts of money on….redundancy?

Here’s the latest.

The federal government could save billions in taxpayer dollars annually by consolidating duplicative government programs, according to a new report.

The newly-released report from the Government Accountability Office “makes us all look like jackasses,” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) told reporters Monday night.

Embarrassment is a hopeful sign.

The conservative senator [would they ever say ‘liberal’?] said the report — which identifies redundancies in more than 546 individual programs — reveals why the United States is $14 trillion in debt.

“Anybody who says we don’t look like fools up here hasn’t read the report,” he said.

Good for Coburn to be so…refreshingly honest.

The report is the product of President Obama’s executive order calling for a government-wide review of federal regulations. At the time, the president said the regulatory review would seek to eliminate rules that stifle job creation, are redundant, or are just “plain dumb.”

They certainly found them. Kudos to the president for starting that.

The report finds that there are 15 agencies involved in food safety, 80 programs involved in economic development and more than 100 involved in surface transportation. There are 10 agencies and 82 programs involved in teacher quality, and more than 20 agencies and about 56 programs involved in financial literacy efforts. There are about 2,300 investments across the Defense Department to modernize its business operations.

Mind-boggling. The president must have seen it coming…

Mr. Obama sought to highlight the need for greater government efficiency in his State of the Union address with a joke about the multiple agencies involved in regulating salmon.

“The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them while they’re in salt water,” he said. “I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

Funny. Now what?

Addressing duplicative efforts on even a single issue could save billions, the report found. For instance, the GAO says the government could save up to $5.7 billion annually by addressing potentially duplicative policies designed to boost domestic ethanol production. Additionally, the Defense Department could save $460 million annually by making broader changes to the governance of its military health care system.

Bulky wording. So…who’s addressing what, and how, and how fast? We’ll be watching, and looking for a follow up.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....