Our 10 Most Popular Podcasts of 2014

thumbnail_gaoWant to know what nanomanufacturing is? The connection between fracking and new oil pipelines? How much those F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will ultimately cost? Listen to our 10 most downloaded podcasts of 2014 to help understand some of the major issues of the year.

The $1 Trillion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter?
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive aircraft the Department of Defense has ever developed. But when it’s all said and done, just how much will it cost you, the taxpayer? Our most popular podcast of 2014 explains some of the issues with estimating this aircraft’s costs:

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Improved Cost Estimates Needed


A More Efficient Federal Government = Potential Taxpayer Savings
Learn how the federal government might save money and increase efficiency in our podcast on our 4th annual look at duplication, overlap, and fragmentation across the government:

Reducing Government Duplication and Saving Tax Dollars


Stolen Identities, Stolen Tax Refunds
Fraudsters made off with more than $5 billion in tax refunds using stolen identities in the 2013 tax filing season. Learn how this happens, and what you should do if you think it’s happened to you:

Identity Theft Refund Fraud


Airline Pilot Shortages
The number of commercial airline pilots has declined since 2000, and there are concerns about a potential shortage of qualified pilots in the near future. Our podcast describes why this shortage is happening, and what the federal government and airline industry can do about it:

Current and Future Availability of Airline Pilots


Transporting Oil and Gas
Technology advancements, such as hydraulic fracturing, have greatly increased U.S. production of oil and natural gas, often in areas with no infrastructure for safely transporting it out. Our podcast on oil and gas transportation infrastructure issues explains the risks:

Oil and Gas Transportation


DOD Plans for New and Existing Major Weapon Programs
Earlier this year we completed our annual review of the Department of Defense’s plans to acquire major weapon systems. Learn more about how DOD plans to spend hundreds of billions in tax dollars:

Annual Quick Look at DOD’s Portfolio of Major Weapon Programs


Risks and Challenges of Bitcoins and Other Virtual Currencies
This year saw the bankruptcy of the Mt. Gox virtual currency exchange after it reportedly lost more than $460 million worth of Bitcoins. Learn about some of the issues with these currencies, including challenges for federal law enforcement and risks for investors:

Federal Government Challenges with Virtual Currencies


Deciphering Health Care Costs
It’s hard to find out what a health procedure will cost and, even if you can, higher prices don’t necessarily equal better care. Our podcast on variations in health care pricing also describes some tools for estimating your health care costs:

Health Care Price Transparency


Nanomanufacturing & Implications for U.S. Competitiveness
Nanotechnologies, such as concrete that lasts longer and “heals” itself, could dramatically affect society and the economy. Listen to our Chief Scientist, Tim Persons, explain nanomanufacturing and what its “megatrend” status means for U.S. competitiveness:

Highlights of a GAO Forum on Nanomanufacturing & Implications for U.S. Competiveness


Federal Agencies’ Customer Service Efforts
Federal agencies like the Forest Service and border patrol provide services to the public, but how do they know how well they’re meeting people’s needs? Find out how selected federal agencies evaluate and improve their customer service:

Federal Agencies’ Customer Service Efforts


See you next year!
This is our last post for 2014. Thank you for following our blog. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please do so, and you will get an e-mail when we return in January 2015.

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Podcast on GAO’s State and Local Fiscal Outlook Model Update

GAO Podcast IconState and local governments nationwide face long-term fiscal sustainability challenges. Since 2007, GAO has published simulations of fiscal trends in the state and local government sectors.

Explore the state and local fiscal outlook model, and hear our podcast with Michelle Sager, a director in GAO’s Strategic Issues team who led the recent update of the model.

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A Holiday Spirit of Giving at GAO

thumbnail_gaoThe holiday season is a time for giving, and we could not be more proud of all the giving our employees do—not just at the holidays but also throughout the year. So we wanted to take a moment this holiday season to celebrate and recognize those who donate their personal time and money toward charitable causes. Here’s a look at some of the giving that GAO watchdogs are doing this holiday season and beyond.

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Podcast on State Funding for Higher Education and College Affordability

GAO Podcast IconAs higher education costs rise, state support can help make public colleges more affordable. However, budget constraints and other factors have led to reduced state funding for higher education in recent years.

Hear our podcast with Melissa Emrey-Arras, a director in GAO’s Education Workforce and Income Security Team who led a recent review of state funding trends and policies affecting college affordability.

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Podcast on Aviation Security and Expedited Passenger Screening

GAO Podcast IconIn 2011, the Transportation Security Administration introduced its Precheck program, which offers expedited screening to selected air travelers. TSA’s use of expedited screening has rapidly increased in recent years, highlighting the need to ensure the effectiveness of the agency’s security assessments.

Hear our podcast with Jennifer Grover, a director in GAO’s Homeland Security and Justice team who led a recent review of how TSA’s pre-check program has been working since then.

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Federal Programs Serving Native Americans

thumbnail environmentMore than 560 federally recognized tribes in the United States receive approximately $19 billion in annual funding from the federal government for certain protections, services, and benefits. These federal programs cover areas ranging from education to health care to cultural preservation. Let’s take a look at some of our recent work to help improve federal programs that serve Native American communities.

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Podcast on Physician-Assisted Fraud in SSA Disability Benefits

GAO Podcast IconEach year, the Social Security Administration relies on medical evidence to determine whether millions of new disability benefit claimants are qualified. This evidence, and those who provide it, have raised questions about potential fraud.

Hear our podcast with Dan Bertoni, a director in GAO’s Education, Workforce, and Income Security team, who led a recent review of SSA’s efforts to detect and prevent physician-assisted fraud in its disability programs.

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Tax Expenditures: Spending through the Tax Code

taxes thumbnailAs we near the end of the year, you may be trying to make charitable donations so you can take a tax deduction. The charitable donation deduction is one of many special tax provisions that can reduce the amount of taxes a person or company must pay. These provisions are called “tax expenditures” because they amount to government spending through the tax code. We have examined tax expenditures very closely to determine whether policymakers and the public know how effective tax expenditures are in achieving their intended goals.

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GAO Again Named Among Best Places to Work in the Federal Government

thumbnail_gaoThe Partnership for Public Service today announced that GAO has again placed highly in its 2014 roster of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government, rising to 2nd place among mid-size agencies.  We ranked 3rd in that category last year.

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All About Agency Financial Statement Auditing

thumbnail_auditingEvery year, GAO audits selected agencies’ financial statements and the consolidated financial statements of the federal government. We’ve discussed the results of our federal government audit on the WatchBlog before, but we wanted to provide more context on the agency-level audits we perform, and on financial statement auditing in general. Taxpayers can view agency financial statements and the audits of those statements as a snapshot of an agency’s financial performance and use of federal funds. This is similar to the way an investor can analyze a company’s annual report.

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