GAO is well known for its financial and performance audits of the federal government. In our pursuit of objective, fact-based information, we often encounter technical issues related to accounting, actuarial science, economics, science, and technology. We have many employees with backgrounds in all of these areas and they are led by five experts—our Technical Chiefs—to help us dive deeper into these areas.
GAO’s current Technical Chiefs
In addition to providing assistance to our mission teams, the Technical Chiefs also lead and contribute to reports and congressional testimony related to their areas of expertise. Here are descriptions of GAO’s Technical Chiefs and examples of the types of work they do:
- The Chief Accountant is our expert on accounting, auditing, and business practices, such as financial management, financial reporting, and program cost effectiveness. The Chief Accountant supports GAO financial audits, including the audit of the U.S. government’s consolidated financial statements. The Chief Accountant also represents GAO in organizations such as the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board. Robert (Bob) Dacey, GAO’s current Chief Accountant, holds a J.D. from George Mason University and a B.B.A., magna cum laude, from the University of Cincinnati. Prior to his appointment, he distinguished himself through leadership in GAO’s financial audit, information security, and critical infrastructure work, and in the private sector.
- The Chief Actuary is our expert on applying actuarial science to issues such as pensions and retirement security, health and disability insurance, and property and casualty insurance—helping to assess their liabilities, risks, and actuarial soundness. For example, the Chief Actuary has worked to help clarify the U.S. Postal Service’s liabilities for its pension, retiree medical, and workers’ compensation programs. Frank Todisco, GAO’s current Chief Actuary, is a nationally recognized expert on retirement security issues, and a member of the Actuarial Standards Board, which establishes standards of practice for the U.S. actuarial profession. He has a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in economics from Princeton University and an MA in economics from The New School for Social Research.
- The Chief Economist provides direction on a variety of economic issues including cost-benefit analysis, pricing, competition, and decision-making under uncertainty (when the probability of potential outcomes is unknown or incalculable). The Chief Economist works on financial and consumer markets issues such as intellectual property. In addition, the Chief Economist leads seminars on economic issues for GAO’s senior management to keep them updated on developments in the field. Susan Offutt, our current Chief Economist, holds a PhD and MS from Cornell University. Prior to her work at GAO, she held leadership positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Office of Management and Budget, and the National Research Council.
- The Chief Scientist assists our mission teams on topics like nuclear engineering, radiation detection systems, nanotechnology, biomedical sciences, and data analytics. The Chief Scientist leads technology assessments such as this one on nanotechnology in the U.S. manufacturing sector. Timothy Persons, GAO’s current Chief Scientist, holds a PhD in biomedical engineering and an M.Sc. in computer science from Wake Forest University, and an M.Sc. in nuclear physics from Emory University. He previously held leadership positions within the national security community.
- The Chief Technologist consults on a range of engineering, software development, computer security, and technology issues. The Chief Technologist leads technology assessments such as this one on explosives detection technologies for passenger rail. Naba Barkakati, GAO’s current Chief Technologist, holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland and has authored more than two dozen books.
The chiefs also work together—for example, the Chief Scientist and Chief Technologist both direct GAO’s Center for Science, Technology, and Engineering. The Center’s work focuses on science, engineering, computer security, operations research, and the aforementioned technology assessments.
In a time of complex federal challenges, our Technical Chiefs provide the expertise we need to continue our work on topics that are important to you.