From catfish inspection to job training, study finds dozens of overlapping federal programs

The government has 76 programs to treat drug abuse spread across 15 different agencies. It has 47 programs for job training. And there are three federal agencies that inspect catfish.

These are among the findings in a new Government Accountability Office report that found 162 areas where services are duplicated or money is being wasted in the federal government. The annual cost of duplicative or wasteful programs is estimated at roughly $250 billion, according to fiscal hawk Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

The senator said the money from those programs is worth more than the annual impact of the sequester, which went into effect in March and has triggered $85 billion in across-the-board agency budget cuts.

"That's 250 billion dollars a year, that's three times what the sequester was," Coburn said. "Just in waste, in duplication, in stupidity, and lack of efficiency and effectiveness by the federal government. (It) makes you want to pull your hair out."

The 76 programs on drug abuse cost roughly $4.5 billion. Two elements of the Department of Homeland Security also used five separate contracts to detect the same chemical.

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    The report found six overlapping programs in defense aimed at increasing the number of camouflage uniforms from two a few years ago to seven.

    The GAO, though, found that renewable energy programs top them all -- with 679 overlapping programs.

    "Nobody knows what's going on there. Not the Department of Energy, all these other 13 other agencies that have these programs. Nobody knows. We're just throwing money thinking it will stick on the wall," Coburn said.

    Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said there's nothing partisan about these findings.

    "It's partisan only in the sense that it's the bureaucracy against the American people. It's the fiefdoms within government against any kind of real reform," he said.

    Coburn said the federal government could save $2.5 trillion over 10 years if Congress and the administration worked at it--- money that would reduce deficit spending.

    Coburn also complained that most of the allegedly wasteful or duplicative programs from prior reports have not yet been addressed. "None of the big savings have been addressed, and we continue to go along our merry way not solving the problem," he said.