The National Park Service Is Turning 100—How Are Its Finances?

NPS_centennial_logoThe National Park Service is celebrating its centennial on August 25, 2016.  For 100 years, the Park Service has helped the public enjoy its parks and worked to protect its resources. It currently manages 413 parks covering 84 million acres. That number keeps growing—the Service established one of its most recent parks, Stonewall National Monument in New York City, on June 24, 2016, to commemorate LGBT rights. Continue reading

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Human Trafficking in the United States

Figure 5: “Look Beneath the Surface” Public Awareness Campaign PosterHuman trafficking— using force, fraud or coercion to exploit a person for the purposes of commercial sex or to work against their will—happens in the United States. But it’s not always easy to recognize the victims or understand the scope of the problem.

We recently examined some of the challenges the federal government faces in combating human trafficking—and here’s what we found. Continue reading

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Opportunity Knocks, 36,000 Feet in the Air

Photo: Wright brothers' plane. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-W86-35.On December 17th, 1903, two brothers took to the skies. Orville and Wilbur Wright’s 12-second inaugural flight near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina launched a revolution that would affect everything from war to commerce to vacations.

For National Aviation Day—established by FDR and celebrated on Orville Wright’s birthday—we look at the vehicles of air travel and the people who collaborate and contribute to the dream of flight.

It started with just two people on the dunes but now, over 100 years later, will there be enough people to build and maintain aircrafts and fly them? Continue reading

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For World Humanitarian Day, Examining Federal Efforts in Syria

thumbnail international affairsFriday, August 19 is World Humanitarian Day, designed to increase the public’s awareness about humanitarian assistance and honor humanitarian personnel (including those who lost their lives in the cause of duty).

In anticipation of tomorrow’s World Humanitarian Day, the WatchBlog looks at federal efforts to support humanitarian assistance for people affected by the conflict in Syria.

More than 13.5 million people in need Continue reading

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Avoiding a Washed-Up Flood Insurance Program

housing thumbnailThe floods devastating Louisiana will cause millions, if not billions, of dollars’ worth of damage. Homeowners who opted to purchase flood insurance coverage for their property may be able to rely on the National Flood Insurance Program for help. Today the WatchBlog looks at the nation’s flood insurance program and what might be needed to to keep it afloat. Continue reading

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Is Your Project’s Technology Up to the Job? Our New Draft Tech Readiness Assessment Guide Can Help Answer That

Cover of Technology Readinexs Assessment GuideTechnology can help solve some of the thorniest problems. But immature tech can create more problems than it solves.

NASA, the Department of Defense, and others originally conceived of the idea of “technology readiness assessments” to determine technology maturity—whether the tech for a project has been around long enough to have outgrown any initial problems.

To help practitioners assess their tech, we released a draft technology readiness assessment guide. It outlines 7 best practices for developing and producing reliable, high-quality assessments.

We developed this guide with experts from government agencies, private industry, nonprofit groups, and academia. We are also seeking comments on the guide over the next year. Continue reading

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What Do Quagga Mussels, Pythons, and Hydrilla Have in Common?   

lionfish hunter with speared lionfishThey’re all aquatic invasive species—and federal agencies are trying to do something about them. When nonnative plants, animals, and microorganisms live in new aquatic habitats, they can damage ecosystems and threaten commercial, agricultural, and recreational activities. Today’s WatchBlog explores what federal agencies are doing to address invasive species in U.S. waters. Continue reading

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GAO for Your Reading Pleasure

GAO logoOur reports make for great reads, but sometimes summer calls for lighter fare. For National Book Lovers Day, read about how our real-life work shows up in best sellers and lesser known books alike.

Best sellers Continue reading

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Working toward Implementing the DATA Act

information technologyFederal agencies spend more than $3.7 trillion a year. But it’s not always easy to get reliable, useful, and consistent information about this spending—information that can help improve oversight, decision making, and transparency.

So, Congress passed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 to help more directly link spending data to program information and results. To do this, agencies will have to report standardized data. Legislators, government officials, and the public will then have online access to comparable financial information across agencies.

But federal agencies are having a hard time pulling together their plans for how they will Continue reading

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The Costs and Benefits of Federal Telework (podcast)

GAO Podcast IconIt used to be that if you weren’t in the office, you couldn’t get work done. Now, at least 1 million federal employees are eligible to telework.

But what are the costs and benefits to federal agencies of this flexible workforce?

A team led by Yvonne Jones, a director in our Strategic Issues team, recently set out to answer that question, combing through reports of federal telework costs and benefits at 6 agencies. Hear Yvonne discuss what her team found:

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