Sneak Preview: GAO Recommends That OMB Develop Program Consolidation Guidance

January 23, 2015 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from an article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) A key goal under the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) uniform grant guidance is to improve program performance to achieve better outcomes; however, program consolidation is also on the horizon. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) contends that OMB can do more to encourage federal agencies to streamline their programs through consolidation, where applicable and with careful planning, to achieve better results. It recently recommended that OMB develop guidance to assist federal agencies in identifying potential grant program consolidation opportunities to promote better outcomes through improved efficiency.

GAO in several reports in recent years has concluded that the proliferation of grant programs has increased the potential for overlap and duplication. For example, GAO found widespread duplication in a 2011 report on federally funded employment and training programs. It found that 44 of 47 employment and training programs overlap with at least one other program by providing at least one similar service to a similar population.

“Program consolidations may help address these problems,” GAO said recently. “Consolidations also have the potential to improve the effectiveness and performance of federal assistance programs by simplifying grant administration and facilitating coordination among grant recipients.”

However, while some consolidated programs have reduced overlap and duplication, other consolidated programs have experienced an increase. “It is critical that federal policymakers consider what other program or funding streams exist in related areas and what the impact of the consolidation on these is likely to be,” GAO said. “Consolidation initiatives can be complex, costly and difficult to achieve. A case-by-case analysis … is important to ensure effective stewardship of government resources in a constrained budget environment.”


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