Securing Anthrax (and Other Dangerous Pathogens)—the Risk of “Incomplete Inactivation”

still from animated gifIn 2015, the Department of Defense discovered that one of its laboratories had inadvertently sent live anthrax to almost 200 other labs worldwide over 12 years. Labs routinely inactivate samples of dangerous pathogens so they can be shipped to other labs and safely studied. The samples in this incident were labeled “inactivated” and removed from containment, but the inactivation process was incomplete.

The animated GIF below shows how the anthrax spread in this incident. For more information and recommendations on ways to address the risks of incomplete pathogen inactivation, check out the full report.

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Wildlife Trafficking (video)

GAO: US Efforts to Combat Wildlife TraffickingThe illegal slaughter and trade in wildlife—such as elephants, rhinoceroses, and tigers—is worth an estimated $7 billion to $23 billion a year, and is pushing some animals to the brink of extinction.

A team led by Kim Gianopoulos, a director in our International Affairs and Trade team, recently looked into U.S. efforts to combat wildlife trafficking. Watch this video for what we found is being done to protect large animals in Africa.

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Nuclear Weapons and the U.S. Strategic Triad

Boeing B-52H 60-0021 5BW Minot AFB 21Sep95 When the United States first developed nuclear weapons, no one anticipated that the country would need three ways to deliver them. But, since the 1960s, U.S. nuclear weapons have been deployed by air, land, and sea.

These three modes of delivery (and the vehicles that support them) are collectively known as the strategic triad.

But does this three-pronged nuclear strategy still make sense? Joe Kirschbaum, a director in our Defense Capabilities and Management team, led a team that examined this issue. Listen to what they found, and read on as today’s WatchBlog examines the strategic triad. Continue reading

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Detecting Fraud in the Immigrant Investor Visa Program (podcast)

GAO Podcast IconForeign nationals who make substantial investments in projects that create or sustain U.S. jobs can get a conditional green card and a path to citizenship under the Immigrant Investor Program. Yet the program’s reliance on voluminous paper applications leaves it open to fraud risk. What’s being done about that?

Listen to Seto Bagdoyan, a director in our Forensic Audits and Investigative Service team, discuss the number of applications, who is getting these visas, and what’s being done to catch fraudulent applications.


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Long Term Care Workforce (podcast)

GAO Podcast IconAs the U.S. population ages, a growing number of older Americans are expected to need help with routine activities, such as bathing, dressing, and eating. Will the caregiver workforce be ready for them?

A team led by Kathleen King, a director in our Health Care team, recently set out to explore this question. Here’s what they found.


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Connected People, Devices & Data | The Results of Our Data and Analytics Innovation Forum

Data and Analytics Innovation coverNew technology is all around—fitness trackers count your steps, navigation apps steer you right, and the internet is everywhere. These and other tech trends have resulted in massive volumes of data being generated, stored, and analyzed at unprecedented rates.

What does all this mean for the economy and society? We convened a forum of representatives from industry, government, academia, and nonprofit organizations to discuss just that. This week we released the results of that discussion and today’s WatchBlog gives a glimpse into what was said. Continue reading

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Uncle Sam Wants YOU! DOD Advertising in the Online Age

defenseBe all you can be. The few, the proud. Aim high. Accelerate your life. Each of these slogans has been a part of advertising campaigns for different branches of the armed services (the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy, respectively). From a sign on the side of a bus to suggested sites on your Facebook feed, we are all exposed to advertising every day.

With the Department of Defense slated to spend $575 million in the next year to influence your perception of the military and bring in new recruits, today’s WatchBlog takes a look at how that money is being spent.

Examples of military service social media advertising, mobile assets for advertising, and print advertising.(Excerpted from GAO-16-396) Continue reading

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Prestige TV and GAO—A Match Made in Hollywood Heaven?

GAO logoThe current golden age of prestige television has more in common with GAO’s work than you’d think—it turns out that Emmy-nominated TV shows, both comedies and dramas, worry about the same issues we do. Today’s WatchBlog explores how our work could help inform Hollywood about the safety, labor, and cybersecurity threats that make for such riveting TV.

Comedians in Cars… Continue reading

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Our New Center for Enhanced Analytics

GAO logo[The title of this post was changed to correct an error in the name.]

Analytics and “big data” seem to be the next frontier in a number of arenas. Data researchers can use the large, real-time data sets that are available today to facilitate scientific discovery, improve the flow of traffic, and increase energy efficiency, among many other things.

Last year, the White House appointed the first federal Chief Data Scientist. And a few months ago, the federal government released a strategy for big data research and development. Also, numerous initiatives are under way across federal agencies to both release data sets for public use and better use data to manage federal programs.

For years, GAO’s skilled technical staff has provided insights into large data sets that Continue reading

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Where No Auditor Has Gone Before

photo of space shuttle, source: NASAIt’s Star Trek’s 50th anniversary—it first took viewers “where no man has gone before” in 1966. Since then, the Enterprise and its sister ships have spent much of their time at warp speeds, saving planets and fending off hostile life forms. To celebrate the journey, check out how our work has helped explore deep space and beyond.

Following NASA to the Final Frontier

NASA recently laid out its goals for human exploration beyond the moon—literally, where no one has gone before. Continue reading

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