Given continuing budget pressures combined with the focus on
performance envisioned in the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010,
federal agencies need to identify ways to operate more efficiently.
GAO was asked to (1) describe selected initiatives that federal
departments are implementing to achieve efficiencies; and (2)
identify key practices associated with implementing these
initiatives, as well as selected state initiatives, that can be
applied more broadly in the federal government. GAO reviewed agency
documents and interviewed officials from the Departments of
Homeland Security (DHS), Veterans Affairs (VA), Defense (DOD), and
Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as well as officials from five
states--Virginia, Iowa, Texas, Washington, and Georgia. Federal
departments in our review used different approaches to improve
efficiency. Their efficiency initiatives generally fell within two
categories--(1) reexamining programs, structures, and functions to
determine whether they effectively and efficiently achieved their
mission; and (2) streamlining and consolidating operations to make
them more cost effective. For example, the Secretary of Defense's
Efficiency Initiative, HUD's Transformation Initiative (including
HUDStat), and VA's Operational Management Reviews implemented broad
examinations of their programs, structures, and related processes.
DHS's Efficiency Review, VA's Project Management Accountability
System, and DOD's Continuous Process Improvement/Lean Six Sigma
Program employed targeted methods to streamline and consolidate
processes and systems. Most of the federal initiatives were
relatively new; consequently, their overall impact has yet to be
determined. However, each of these initiatives, as well as select
state initiatives--such as the Virginia Productivity Investment
Fund--demonstrated key practices from which federal agencies could
learn. GAO recommends that OMB share the key practices for
implementing efficiency initiatives identified in this report, and
develop proposals for funding mechanisms to support upfront
investment costs of longer-term efficiency projects that could
result in greater cost savings or other efficiencies in the future.
OMB staff stated that the report does not give sufficient weight to
its sharing of information consistent with the key practices GAO
has identified. While the report recognizes a number of OMB's
initiatives, GAO is unaware of the extent of OMB's efforts to share
the practices identified in this report. DHS, DOD, VA and HUD had
no comments on the recommendations.
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