GAO’s 2017 Performance and Accountability Report—More than $73 Billion in Financial Benefits

cover of 2017 reportIt’s that time of year again, the time we like to share the results of our work with you, the taxpayer. This year our audit work produced over $73 billion in financial benefits. In other words, for every $1 Congress invested in us, we returned $128.

And we don’t just work to save you money—we also aim to improve government effectiveness. This year, we recommended more than 1,200 ways that the federal government could improve programs and operations. How? Among other things, our reports prompted federal agencies to:

  • Streamline the appeals process for veterans’ disability claims
  • Prevent paying $480 million in fraudulent refunds in fiscal years 2015 and 2016
  • Inspect more foreign drug manufacturing facilities
  • Issue a rule requiring drug companies to report data on the sale and use of antibiotics for use in food animals
  • Develop a strategy to address the use of opioids during pregnancy to help prevent Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in newborns

We also identified key services that help youth with autism transition from high school to adulthood. As you can see our reviews and investigations touched on a wide range of federal programs, involving nearly every federal agency. And we don’t just report on the results of our work—we testify.

Congress called upon our experts to testify nearly 100 times this year. Among other topics, we testified on how agencies could better:

  • Reduce payment errors in Medicaid
  • Strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity
  • Improve border security
  • Improve Navy readiness and training
  • Protect older adults from abuse by guardians

Our 2017 Performance and Accountability Report has the full details on what we accomplished in the past fiscal year, information on how we calculate results and find savings, and what’s on the horizon for next year.


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The Health and Welfare of the Nation’s Children (podcast & infographic)

thumbnail of infographicThe long-term success of the nation depends in large part on how well families and society care for children. Our recent report looked at more than 20 indicators to get a picture of the state of children’s well-being. We found that while the U.S. has improved in some categories such as health insurance and high school graduation rates, some subgroups continue to fare worse than others. For example, Black, Hispanic, and poor students’ estimated average reading and math scores are worse than those of their White and non-poor peers. And Hispanic children have the lowest rates of insurance. Continue reading

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The DATA Act – Working Towards Federal Spending Transparency

Government thumbnail imageThe Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 requires federal agencies to prepare and submit standardized, accurate information about the roughly $3.7 trillion they spend each year. The Office of Management and Budget and the Department of the Treasury are required to help facilitate such reporting, and make it available to the public. We’ve reported on the challenges—and successes—related to these efforts over the past several years. Continue reading

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Sorting Out the Federal Government: Creating an Inventory of Programs Using Information Architecture

information managementHave you ever bought shoes online? Did you search for hiking boots? In mud brown? Size 10? The database you used likely allowed you to search for a specific color, size, style, and other features. It may have given you a wide variety of shoes to choose from that matched the characteristics you were looking for.

When it comes to information about federal programs, though, there is no way to do a similar search—although there is a requirement that executive agencies develop such an inventory. Today’s WatchBlog post explores our recent review of one approach to developing a useful inventory of federal programs. Continue reading

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The Evolution of CYBERCOM

The Department of Defense faces tens of millions of attempted cyberattacks every year. In response, it established the U.S. Cyber Command in 2009 to more effectively address the growing risk of these threats. Although initially located within the U.S. Strategic Command, in August 2017 the President ordered CYBERCOM to be elevated to the status of a full and independent command—traditionally a military organizational unit under the command of one individual.

Earlier this year, we looked at some advantages and disadvantages of CYBERCOM’s structure and leadership style, as well as DOD’s progress in implementing its cybersecurity strategy. Today’s WatchBlog shares some of what we found. Continue reading

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Improving DOD’s Commissaries

defenseDOD operates 238 commissaries (supermarkets) worldwide to provide groceries and household goods at reduced prices to military personnel, retirees, and their dependents. Since commissaries are not expected to entirely support themselves, Congress has funded these operations to the tune of about $1.4 billion annually since 2010.

Today’s WatchBlog explores how DOD can more efficiently manage its commissaries—and potentially reduce their operating costs. Continue reading

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Down on the (Fish) Farm 

Excerpted from GAO-16-399Are you more surf than turf? Whether you call yourself a pescetarian or just enjoy the occasional shrimp cocktail, chances are the fish and shellfish you eat were imported.

During National Seafood Month, listen to our podcast and read on to learn more about where the nation gets its fish, and federal efforts to ensure the safety of imported seafood. Continue reading

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Lead in Drinking Water

Excerpt from infographicIt’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and today’s WatchBlog explores our recent report and video on lead in drinking water and federal efforts to help ensure drinking water is safe from lead.

Our recent video explains how lead can enter drinking water, and what you can do to reduce your risks.

Continue reading

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Reevaluating the Retirement System

thumbnail retirement securityHow do you picture your retirement years? Spending time with your family? Maybe traveling a little? Everyone has dreams about what they want their post-work lives to be like, but for an increasing number of Americans, those dreams are receding into the distant future.

As traditional pensions have disappeared, more and more people must plan for their own retirements. However, the difficulty of saving for retirement, uncertainty about Social Security, and mounting health care costs may affect Americans’ ability to remain financially secure through retirement.

Our new video helps explain the issues.

Continue reading

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Abandoned Boats! Who Responds to Abandoned and Derelict Boats and other Vessels?

Homeland SecurityAbandoned and derelict recreational boats, fishing boats, and barges can block U.S. waterways and pose threats to the environment and public health—as fuel and hazardous material can leak into the water when these boats and other types of vessels deteriorate. So who’s in charge of responding to these types of incidents? The answer depends on the nature and location of the incident.

Earlier this year we looked at actions federal and state agencies have taken to address abandoned vessels. Today’s WatchBlog explores some of what we found. Continue reading

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