Improving DOD’s Commissaries

defenseDOD operates 238 commissaries (supermarkets) worldwide to provide groceries and household goods at reduced prices to military personnel, retirees, and their dependents. Since commissaries are not expected to entirely support themselves, Congress has funded these operations to the tune of about $1.4 billion annually since 2010.

Today’s WatchBlog explores how DOD can more efficiently manage its commissaries—and potentially reduce their operating costs. Continue reading

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Down on the (Fish) Farm 

Excerpted from GAO-16-399Are you more surf than turf? Whether you call yourself a pescetarian or just enjoy the occasional shrimp cocktail, chances are the fish and shellfish you eat were imported.

During National Seafood Month, listen to our podcast and read on to learn more about where the nation gets its fish, and federal efforts to ensure the safety of imported seafood. Continue reading

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Lead in Drinking Water

Excerpt from infographicIt’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and today’s WatchBlog explores our recent report and video on lead in drinking water and federal efforts to help ensure drinking water is safe from lead.

Our recent video explains how lead can enter drinking water, and what you can do to reduce your risks.

Continue reading

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Reevaluating the Retirement System

thumbnail retirement securityHow do you picture your retirement years? Spending time with your family? Maybe traveling a little? Everyone has dreams about what they want their post-work lives to be like, but for an increasing number of Americans, those dreams are receding into the distant future.

As traditional pensions have disappeared, more and more people must plan for their own retirements. However, the difficulty of saving for retirement, uncertainty about Social Security, and mounting health care costs may affect Americans’ ability to remain financially secure through retirement.

Our new video helps explain the issues.

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Abandoned Boats! Who Responds to Abandoned and Derelict Boats and other Vessels?

Homeland SecurityAbandoned and derelict recreational boats, fishing boats, and barges can block U.S. waterways and pose threats to the environment and public health—as fuel and hazardous material can leak into the water when these boats and other types of vessels deteriorate. So who’s in charge of responding to these types of incidents? The answer depends on the nature and location of the incident.

Earlier this year we looked at actions federal and state agencies have taken to address abandoned vessels. Today’s WatchBlog explores some of what we found. Continue reading

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IRS: Taxpayer Tips Can Turn Into Cash

photo of a pile of moneyThe Internal Revenue Service helps keep the federal government funded by enforcing tax laws and working to ensure that everybody pays their share. Nevertheless, every year some taxpayers—intentionally or inadvertently—overstate deductions, understate income, and don’t pay what they owe.

The IRS has an estimated $406 billion tax gap—the difference between the taxes owed and the taxes IRS has collected. To help close that gap, the IRS encourages the public to provide information about people and businesses that violate federal tax laws.

Today we’re examining some of the programs the IRS uses to get the public to report potential tax violations to the IRS. Continue reading

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The Surge Sealift Fleet—Shipping Military Supplies For Any Major Event

Surge Sealift Fleet ship More than 90% of military equipment, supplies, and fuel travels by sea. When the military deploys anywhere, the demand for naval transportation grows.

Additional shipping capacity must be ready to assist in any major event, ranging from a natural disaster to war. This requires both active and reserve ships. Today, the WatchBlog looks at our recent report on the surge sealift fleet of the Navy’s Military Sealift Command and the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration—61 reserve ships that provide millions of square feet of cargo capacity to transport equipment and supplies around the world. Continue reading

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Tracking Deliveries and Inventory of DOD Assets

These days, if you order an item online, you can usually track it as it makes its way from the warehouse to your doorstep. It isn’t quite so simple for the Department of Defense—which has struggled for years to be able to provide accurate information on the location, quantity, and condition of its assets (e.g., spare parts, food, and fuel).

Since 1990, we have included DOD supply chain management on our biannual High Risk list, which discusses, among other things, federal areas in need of broad-based transformation to improve operations. In 2005, we added “asset visibility” to DOD’s supply chain management high-risk area.

Today’s WatchBlog explores DOD’s recent progress in improving its ability to track items in its inventory, and discusses the challenges that remain. Continue reading

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Watching Out for Synthetic Identity Fraud

information technologyAs real WatchBlog fans know, over the years we’ve covered identity theft issues for a few reasons:

So, today on the WatchBlog, we’re focusing on yet another type of identity theft: “synthetic identity fraud.” This happens when a criminal, for example, steals a Social Security number and creates a fictitious identity with which to commit fraud. We’ll also look at highlights from our panel on the subject. Continue reading

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Our Increasingly Connected World — The Internet of Things 

GAO logoCell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, and numerous other consumer and industrial products are increasingly designed to gather data, connect to the Internet, and improve efficiency or assist with decision making.

Earlier this year, our Internet of Things technology assessment and Big Bite video podcast discussed some benefits, and potential risks, of our ever more connected world.

Today’s Watchblog delves a bit deeper into how IoT is affecting consumers, communities, and national defense. Continue reading

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