The GAO released a new report yesterday called Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue. It could start a very productive conversation or become a political football.
Those of us who have worked in government, believe in organizational collaboration, change and innovation have seen many redundant and duplicative grants, programs and projects. Over the years, the cost in time, talent and funding is very high. Not only do we fund things, often over and over again, we rarely build on previously funded programs or grants. What happened to all the hard work and good ideas before now? A grant goes up and it comes down.
Categorical funding is not a friend to collaboration. A great majority of current issues clearly cross organizational, sector and discipline boundaries. It’s relatively easy to spend the same dollar over and over again and not look back.
As we seek to address and survive a massive federal debt and political wrangling over programs, we could be leading the charge to become sustainable. We are capable of directing organizational innovation, taking hold of difficult decisions, while consciously looking for ways to jump ahead of the curve. I think we can see around the corner.
Just like corporate responsibility is a growing field, I think sustainability in government is something we can anticipate, not wait for the hammer to come down. A great deal of what is going on now has been anticipated for years, do we have the courage to call the question ourselves?