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WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security, highlighted a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that provides a best practice guide for the federal government to consider when evaluating whether to consolidate physical infrastructure and management functions.

The report, Streamlining Government: Questions to Consider when Evaluating Proposals to Consolidate Physical Infrastructure and Management Functions, was produced by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) at the request of Sen. Carper, Oversight of Government Management Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Task Force on Government Performance Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.).

Federal agencies can increase efficiency and effectiveness and cut costs by consolidating physical structures, such as closing offices, or by consolidating management functions like information technology and administration support services. But consolidation is not problem-free. It can be costly, complex, politically-charged and lengthy. In response to the Senators' request, GAO examined tools to help the federal government better evaluate consolidation proposals. Among GAO's key findings, central to the success of any consolidation initiative is the identification of and agreement on specific goals, with the consolidation goals being evaluated against a realistic expectation of how they can be achieved. Also critical is cooperation and communication among leadership, employees, and stakeholders.

"One of my top priorities is to help the federal government achieve better results for less money," said Sen. Carper. "One way federal agencies can greatly reduce costs and inefficiencies is to streamline operations and physical structures. But while consolidation can come with great benefits, it can also come with some challenges. This report gives Congress and the Administration a useful guide to effectively evaluate and assess federal consolidation initiatives as part of our ongoing efforts to save taxpayer dollars and make our government work more efficiently and effectively. I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues to help agencies apply these best practices and other cost-saving measures."

GAO highlights also provides a list of important questions that federal agencies should consider when evaluating whether to consolidate physical infrastructure and management functions.

  • What are the goals of the consolidation? What opportunities will be addressed through the consolidation and what problems will be solved? What problems, if any, will be created?
  • What will be the likely costs and benefits of consolidation? Are sufficiently reliable data available to support a business-case analysis or cost-benefit analysis?
  • How can the up-front costs associated with the consolidation be funded?
  • Who are the consolidation stakeholders, and how will they be affected? How have the stakeholders been involved in the decision, and how have their views been considered? On balance, do stakeholders understand the rationale for consolidation?
  • To what extent do plans show that change management practices will be used to implement the consolidation?

As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Sen. Carper has introduced a number of measures focused on making the federal government more effective and efficient. In December 2010, President Obama signed Sen. Carper's Government Performance and Results Modernization Act (S.3853) into law. The bill calls on agencies to identify overlapping federal programs and to set clear goals that can be measured and reported to Congress and the American people in a more transparent way. Sen. Carper has also introduced the Information Technology Investment Management Act of 2011, which seeks to better monitor the federal government's $80 billion Information Technology portfolio and requires troubled projects be fixed or terminated.

To read the full report, please visit: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-542

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