An Introduction to GAO’s High Risk List

High Risk MedallionAs an agency, we focus on improving the operations of a large, complex federal government that is responsible for trillions of dollars. In 1990, we started a program to report on government operations that we identified as “high risk” due to their greater vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or their need for fundamental transformation.

Since the beginning of the High Risk program, we have updated the High Risk List and reported on the status of progress to address high-risk areas—generally coinciding with the start of each new Congress. Our most recent report, issued in February 2013, discussed 30 high-risk areas.

You can watch a welcome video from the Comptroller General of the United States for an introduction to the report.

In the report, we identify for each high-risk area:

  • Why it is high risk
  • What GAO has found
  • What remains to be done

In our 2013 report, we removed two areas from the High Risk list because sufficient progress had been made:

  • Management of Interagency Contracting
  • Internal Revenue Service Business Systems Modernization

In addition, we added two areas:

As described in our podcast, progress in High Risk areas is possible with concerted Congressional and executive branch action and thorough follow-up. Our next update to the High Risk report will be in early 2015.


  • Questions on the content of this post? Contact J. Christopher Mihm at mihmj@gao.gov.
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