Detecting Fraud in the Immigrant Investor Visa Program (podcast)

GAO Podcast IconForeign nationals who make substantial investments in projects that create or sustain U.S. jobs can get a conditional green card and a path to citizenship under the Immigrant Investor Program. Yet the program’s reliance on voluminous paper applications leaves it open to fraud risk. What’s being done about that?

Listen to Seto Bagdoyan, a director in our Forensic Audits and Investigative Service team, discuss the number of applications, who is getting these visas, and what’s being done to catch fraudulent applications.


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Long Term Care Workforce (podcast)

GAO Podcast IconAs the U.S. population ages, a growing number of older Americans are expected to need help with routine activities, such as bathing, dressing, and eating. Will the caregiver workforce be ready for them?

A team led by Kathleen King, a director in our Health Care team, recently set out to explore this question. Here’s what they found.


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Connected People, Devices & Data | The Results of Our Data and Analytics Innovation Forum

Data and Analytics Innovation coverNew technology is all around—fitness trackers count your steps, navigation apps steer you right, and the internet is everywhere. These and other tech trends have resulted in massive volumes of data being generated, stored, and analyzed at unprecedented rates.

What does all this mean for the economy and society? We convened a forum of representatives from industry, government, academia, and nonprofit organizations to discuss just that. This week we released the results of that discussion and today’s WatchBlog gives a glimpse into what was said.

Data can help innovate

Massive volumes of data have created opportunities. For example, a parking app using real-time data can help drivers find spots in cities such as Chicago and San Francisco. This not only reduces drivers’ time—and frustration—but could help with infrastructure planning.

We dubbed this process—innovatively using the results of large-scale data analysis—Data and Analytics Innovation.

Figure: A Twenty-first Century Cycle: Data and Analytics Information(Excerpted from GAO-16-659SP)

Sounds great, right? In fact, forum participants discussed many positive things to come from Data and Analytics Innovation, including larger benefits to the economy and society from innovations in the areas of health care and transportation, among others, as well as job creation.

Privacy, job loss and other concerns

However, participants also raised some concerns, specifically around privacy and job loss. For example, one participant noted that some apps could share your information with as many as 40 or 50 companies—and neither you nor the companies may know the extent to which third parties will share that data with others, now or in the future. In addition, participants discussed what these innovations would mean for people who work in bookkeeping, assembly-lines, and other routine tasks that could be replaced by automation.

Read more about a range of innovations and what they could mean, in the full report of the forum.

  • Questions on the content of this post? Contact our Chief Scientist, Dr. Tim Persons at
  • Comments on GAO’s WatchBlog? Contact
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Uncle Sam Wants YOU! DOD Advertising in the Online Age

defenseBe all you can be. The few, the proud. Aim high. Accelerate your life. Each of these slogans has been a part of advertising campaigns for different branches of the armed services (the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy, respectively). From a sign on the side of a bus to suggested sites on your Facebook feed, we are all exposed to advertising every day.

With the Department of Defense slated to spend $575 million in the next year to influence your perception of the military and bring in new recruits, today’s WatchBlog takes a look at how that money is being spent.

Examples of military service social media advertising, mobile assets for advertising, and print advertising.(Excerpted from GAO-16-396) Continue reading

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Prestige TV and GAO—A Match Made in Hollywood Heaven?

GAO logoThe current golden age of prestige television has more in common with GAO’s work than you’d think—it turns out that Emmy-nominated TV shows, both comedies and dramas, worry about the same issues we do. Today’s WatchBlog explores how our work could help inform Hollywood about the safety, labor, and cybersecurity threats that make for such riveting TV.

Comedians in Cars… Continue reading

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Our New Center for Enhanced Analytics

GAO logo[The title of this post was changed to correct an error in the name.]

Analytics and “big data” seem to be the next frontier in a number of arenas. Data researchers can use the large, real-time data sets that are available today to facilitate scientific discovery, improve the flow of traffic, and increase energy efficiency, among many other things.

Last year, the White House appointed the first federal Chief Data Scientist. And a few months ago, the federal government released a strategy for big data research and development. Also, numerous initiatives are under way across federal agencies to both release data sets for public use and better use data to manage federal programs.

For years, GAO’s skilled technical staff has provided insights into large data sets that Continue reading

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Where No Auditor Has Gone Before

photo of space shuttle, source: NASAIt’s Star Trek’s 50th anniversary—it first took viewers “where no man has gone before” in 1966. Since then, the Enterprise and its sister ships have spent much of their time at warp speeds, saving planets and fending off hostile life forms. To celebrate the journey, check out how our work has helped explore deep space and beyond.

Following NASA to the Final Frontier

NASA recently laid out its goals for human exploration beyond the moon—literally, where no one has gone before. Continue reading

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Back to School with GAO

Education Thumbnail imageAs students return to school, some are facing more challenges than just catching the bus and doing homework. Today, the WatchBlog is testing your knowledge of some of the issues affecting the well-being of the nation’s school-age children. Continue reading

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Criminal Justice—Exploring Alternatives to Prison

thumbnail_justiceThe federal prison population has grown from about 25,000 in 1980 to approximately 193,000 in August 2016. This expansion comes with substantial associated costs: housing, food, security, and medical care for each prisoner can cost $66 to $101 per day, depending on the security level of the correctional facility. To cover these costs, Congress gave the Bureau of Prisons almost $7.5 billion in funding for fiscal year 2016.

The Department of Justice has taken steps to slow the growth of the federal prison population by pursuing alternatives to incarceration. Today’s WatchBlog takes a closer look at some of these alternatives. Continue reading

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FBI Face Recognition Technology

thumbnail_justiceIn movies and television shows, law enforcement agencies use automated face recognition to find suspects and solve crimes.

Does it work that way in real life? Not quite—as Diana Maurer, a director in our Homeland Security and Justice team, explains in this podcast:


Even so, law enforcement is still using this tech for investigative leads. Today’s WatchBlog examines the FBI’s use of face recognition technologies. Continue reading

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