Updating Government Auditing Standards – The 2018 Yellow Book

Image of the U.S. GAO Yellow BookToday we issued a new revision of the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards, also known as the “Yellow Book,” which supersedes the 2011 revision of the standards.

What kind of training and experience make a competent auditor? How is audit quality control to be maintained? How can an auditor tell if he or she has come across material waste and abuse?

The Yellow Book has answers to these questions. Continue reading

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Are Acquisition Reforms Leading to Better Outcomes at DOD?

Over the past two decades, we’ve issued annual “Quick Looks” at the Department of Defense’s largest and most expensive acquisition programs. Our work continued this year with a review of DOD’s 86 major weapons programs, which totaled more than $1.66 trillion.

Four Photos Showing Various DOD Weapons Programs

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All Together Now!

At GAO, we all live in a grey, rectangular building. But today, we’re feeling far out about the 50th anniversary of the release of Yellow Submarine, a full-length, animated psychedelic trip with the Beatles. In it, the Fab Four sings and sails through many seas to help save Pepperland from the Blue Meanies.

Okay, so we might not be as hip as that technicolor team, but we’re happy to use this cultural anniversary to take you on a magical tour of some of our recent work, which you might even find pretty groovy. All together now! Continue reading

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Roads on Tribal Lands

Roads connect people to education, employment, health care, and other essential services. Roads are especially important on tribal lands because of the remote location of some tribes. But these roads are often unpaved and may not be well maintained, such as this muddy dirt road that is part of a school bus route.

Photograph of a Muddy Dirt Road That is Part of a School Bus Route

Today’s WatchBlog explores our report on road conditions on tribal lands and how this relates to students getting to school. Check out our video for a glimpse of what it’s like to ride a school bus on tribal lands, then read on for more. Continue reading

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Climate Change Adaptation at U.S. Military Bases around the World

Pentagon ThumbnailThe vast global network of bases used by the U.S. military faces significant risks from the weather effects associated with climate change. DOD has made efforts to adapt its overseas bases to these effects, but does it have the information and plans it needs?

Today’s WatchBlog explores our report on DOD’s efforts to adapt its overseas bases to the weather effects associated with climate change.

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The Nation’s Precarious Fiscal Future

Photograph Showing $100 BillsThe United States faces a highly challenging fiscal future. Absent change in policy, the federal fiscal path is unsustainable—debt is growing faster than the economy (GDP). This springs from the continuing gap between the amount of money the federal government collects in revenue, and the amount it spends—i.e., the federal deficit.

Today we issued an update on the fiscal condition of the U.S. government as of the end of FY 2017—and its likely fiscal future if policies don’t change.

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Lead Paint in Housing

Example of a Home with Peeling Lead PaintWas your home built before 1978? If so, there’s a chance that it contains some lead paint.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that roughly 35 percent of U.S. homes contain some lead-based paint.

So, what does this mean for you—and for your kids?

For National Healthy Homes Month, today’s WatchBlog explores our new report on lead paint in housing.

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Diversifying the Pipeline of STEM Talent

Education Thumbnail imageEducation programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) play an important role in preparing students for careers in STEM fields. Over the last decade, the federal government has taken important steps toward diversifying the pipeline of STEM talent in the United States, primarily by supporting STEM education opportunities for historically underrepresented groups in these fields. In 2016, the federal government spent $2.9 billion on 163 STEM education programs across all grade levels—from preschool to graduate school.

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After Showing Improvement, Trends for NASA’s Major Projects Slip Back

Image of earth and the moonEvery year, we look at NASA’s major projects to see how well they’re making progress against their cost and schedule goals—which we call our “Quick Look” review.

This year, these projects included a satellite that will study polar ice sheets, a lander that will collect data on Mars’s crust, and a project planning to demonstrate that sonic booms can be lowered to levels acceptable for commercial use of supersonic flight. All of these projects have life-cycle costs estimated to be at least $250 million.

Today’s WatchBlog explores our 10th annual Quick Look at the status of NASA’s major projects.

Listen to our podcast, then read on for more.

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Understanding Derivatives One Swap at a Time

Did you ever agree to swap your PB&J sandwich for your friend’s bologna sandwich? If so, you did a nonfinancial swap.

Since the 1980s, bankers have applied that basic concept to create financial contracts to swap a wide range of stuff—from interest rates to commodities to credit risk—you name it.
Commercial firms use swaps to manage risk. For example, airline companies use swaps to lock in their fuel prices to protect their profits against rises in fuel prices.

Swaps and other over-the-counter financial contracts whose value is derived from something else (called derivatives) have ballooned into a multitrillion-dollar market worldwide.

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