Optimizing Federal Data Centers

Figure 1: Example of Data Center Server Racks at the Social Security Administration’s National Support CenterIn recent years, federal agencies have moved more and more of their services and operations online, increasing their need for computer power and data storage—and leading to a dramatic rise in the number of federal data centers. These buildings house computer systems and equipment and, as we’ve previously reported, have significant costs for hardware, software, real estate, and electricity. Continue reading

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Dress Rehearsal: 2020 Census

Census takerOur staff are in the field this week observing the Census Bureau’s last complete test of operations before the 2020 Census. The “End-to-End Census Test” is the culmination of the Bureau’s research and planning efforts over the past decade to improve how it administers the census.

We’ve taken a look at these planning efforts in some recent reports, and today’s WatchBlog explores what we’ve found. Continue reading

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The Report Card Is In

Education Thumbnail imageWith back to school season in full swing, we thought we’d take a look at how the nation’s schools are measuring up.

We’ve issued a number of reports recently on some serious challenges that confront students—particularly students facing suspension in the District of Columbia, children attending Indian schools, and students with certain disabilities.

Today’s WatchBlog explores.

High suspension rates in the nation’s capital Continue reading

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We Want YOU! (to Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse)

infographic thumbnailFraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement of federal funds erodes the public’s trust in the government. So, we’re trying to make it as easy as possible to spot it and report it!

If you suspect that these kinds of activities are happening, you can anonymously report them to GAO’s FraudNet hotline—(800) 424-5454—via email, or online. Since 1979, FraudNet has received and referred thousands of tips that have helped find and prosecute fraudsters—saving millions of taxpayer dollars.

To learn more about fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, check out our new video (along with our infographic) on FraudNet.

For more information, visit http://www.gao.gov/fraudnet.

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Wildland Fire Knows No Boundaries…

thumbnail environmentWildfires are a natural and inevitable part of many healthy ecosystems, but they also burn millions of acres each year, cost billions of dollars to combat, and can have devastating effects on communities—including destruction of property and even death. The size and intensity of wildfires across the country have increased in recent years, in part as a result of dense vegetation, drought, and other climate stressors, while at the same time, more people are choosing to live in fire-prone locations.

And although we hate to disagree with Smokey Bear’s admonition that “only you can prevent wildfires,” multiple federal and nonfederal stakeholders have roles to play in reducing the risk from wildland fires. Today’s WatchBlog explores our recent review of how these stakeholders are working together to reduce wildland fire risk to communities. Continue reading

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Asylum Seekers

justiceEach year, tens of thousands of foreign nationals in the United States apply for asylum, which provides refuge for those unable or unwilling to return to their home country for various reasons. For example, they may have faced past persecution in their country, or fear future persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, social status, or political opinion.

But the outcomes of asylum applications in immigration courts can vary significantly. Today’s WatchBlog discusses the U.S. asylum application process and the factors related to application outcomes. Continue reading

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Celebrating 68 Years of Keeping an Eye on Defense

In 1947, President Truman signed the National Security Act—reorganizing and modernizing the U.S. armed forces, foreign policy, and the Intelligence Community into a new military-defense agency. Today in 1949, Truman signed an amendment to the act, officially renaming this agency the Department of Defense.

As the federal government grew in size and complexity, so too did our oversight role. GAO expanded to cover not only financial audits, but performance audits as well. We began providing a steadily increasing number of reports to Congress—including two reports in 1945 and 1947 that reviewed proposals for the creation of DOD.

To mark 68 years of DOD, today’s WatchBlog looks at how our defense-related reviews have evolved over time. Continue reading

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DOE’s Investments in Research and Development

Department of EnergyThe Department of Energy invested $7.36 billion in thousands of civilian research and development projects in 2015—supporting R&D in areas such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, and the electricity grid.

With this funding, researchers at national laboratories, universities, and private companies have discovered ways to better predict hurricane-caused storm surges, used bacteria to enhance biofuels production, and found ways to ensure a continued supply of energy in cities during power outages.

Today’s Watchblog explores how DOE oversees these civilian R&D projects. Continue reading

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Happy 227th Birthday Coast Guard—A Look at Some Recent Fleet Modernization Efforts

photo of a Coast Guard cutterHere’s a water cooler fun-fact: it’s Coast Guard Day!

On this day in 1790, the Tariff Act authorized the construction of 10 ships to enforce maritime tariff and trade laws and prevent smuggling. These ships—known as “revenue cutters” for the tax revenue they would reclaim—made up the Revenue Marine, which would later become the U.S. Coast Guard. Continue reading

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Is DOD Ready to Support a Response to a Cyber Attack?

information technologyCritical infrastructure—the facilities and systems that support banking, commerce, energy, and more—is vital to our national economy, security, and public health. It can also be vulnerable to cyber attacks, which are increasing in frequency, sophistication, and severity.

In the event of a major cyber attack against critical infrastructure, the Department of Defense may be called upon to support civil authorities with their response. Are they prepared to answer the call?

Today’s WatchBlog looks at whether DOD has enough of a plan in place to provide the necessary support after a cyber attack. Continue reading

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