Obstacles Ahead for U.S. Icebreakers

Polar StarU.S. Coast Guard icebreaker ships hammer their way through sheets of ice to access remote ice-covered oceans.

That’s a key capability if you want to get to the ends of the Earth, and that is part of their mission. Bodies of water in the polar regions—Arctic and Antarctic—remain ice-covered for the majority of the year and the U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for providing the nation with access to them. Duties include providing fuel and other supplies to the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica, as well as advancing U.S. interests. Continue reading

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GAO’s Disaster Assistance Collection

Disaster Assistance medallionHurricanes, wildfire, floods, the Zika virus—natural and manmade disasters have significant consequences for people, communities, and the environment. So, what is the federal government doing to respond to these disasters and help with long-term recovery efforts?

Check out our new webpage on disaster assistance to find out!

We’ve conducted in-depth investigations into FEMA’s work, the National Flood Insurance Program—including ideas for comprehensive reforms—and the Department of Health and Human Services’ efforts to deal effectively with public health emergencies. The new collection shares some of our findings and offers links to our key reports in these areas.

Our collection also features our Facebook Live video, Cuppa GAO—Coffee with our Experts, with Chris Currie, a director in our Homeland Security and Justice team. In the video, he discusses federal disaster response and recovery efforts and challenges, for FEMA and other agencies.

And take a look at our infographic detailing how much the federal government spends on disaster assistance. Continue reading

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Collecting Revenue on U.S. E-Cigarette Imports

Types of e-cigarettes and e-cigarette partsOver the last decade, the use of traditional cigarettes in the United States has declined, while the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has grown rapidly. We’ve previously reported that the federal government could not specifically track e-cigarette imports. However, U.S. Customs and Border Protection began doing so on January 1, 2016, and we analyzed the first full year of data.

Today’s WatchBlog explores what we found. Continue reading

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Improving Federal Administration of Programs that Serve the American Indian Population

High Risk MedallionFor nearly a decade, we’ve reported that federal agencies have ineffectively administered Indian health care, education, and energy resource development programs. This year we added the agencies responsible for these programs to our High Risk List—which discuss the federal agencies and programs most vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.

Today’s WatchBlog discusses federal administration of Indian health care services, education programs, and development of Indian energy resources. Watch our video, and read on for more.

Continue reading

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Keeping the F-35 Fighter Flying

Photo of an F-35 in flight against a blue skyThe stealthy F-35 aircraft, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, is slated to replace several different types of aircraft in the U.S. fleet. Three variations of the plane—one that can take off vertically, one suited to aircraft carriers, and one designed for regular runways—are heading to the Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force, respectively. Plans call for the U.S. to buy 2,456 of them.

It is a gargantuan investment and the nation’s most costly weapon system. For sustainment alone—repairs, maintenance, etc.—the cost estimate tops $1 trillion to keep the aircraft flying through its projected 60-year lifespan.

With F-35 aircraft development nearing completion and the Department of Defense preparing to ramp up production, DOD’s ability to sustain the F-35 is of critical concern. Doing so requires a capable supply chain.

Today’s WatchBlog explores our report on DOD’s efforts to sustain the growing F-35 fleet. Continue reading

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It’s Official—GAO Is a Great Place to Work!

Once again, GAO has been named one of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government. We held our rank as the 2nd best place to work among midsize federal agencies in 2017, and even improved our score from last year.

In addition, we were again No. 1 for our support of diversity for midsize agencies—the third year in a row that our scores went up for this category. Continue reading

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How Much Does Crime Cost?

justiceBurglary, murder, identity theft—all crimes have costs for victims and society. The Department of Justice reported that federal, state, and local governments spent more than $280 billion in 2012 on criminal justice, including police protection, the court system, and prisons.

However, there are many other costs that researchers consider when estimating the total cost of crime in the United States. These can include tangible costs like replacing damaged property, and intangible costs like victims’ pain and suffering.

Today’s WatchBlog takes a look at our recent report on how researchers calculate these costs—and why these costs matter. Continue reading

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How Much Is That Doggie in the Cabin?

photo of airport towerIf you’re one of the millions flying this holiday season, you may be wondering whether you’ll have to pay fees for services that aren’t included in your ticket price. Want to bring Fido? There’s a fee for that. Want to bring a carry-on and get a cup of coffee? There may be new fees for that.

Today’s WatchBlog explores airlines’ new fees for optional services and what the Department of Transportation is doing to protect consumers. Continue reading

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GAO’s 2017 Performance and Accountability Report—More than $73 Billion in Financial Benefits

cover of 2017 reportIt’s that time of year again, the time we like to share the results of our work with you, the taxpayer. This year our audit work produced over $73 billion in financial benefits. In other words, for every $1 Congress invested in us, we returned $128.

And we don’t just work to save you money—we also aim to improve government effectiveness. This year, we recommended more than 1,200 ways that the federal government could improve programs and operations. How? Among other things, our reports prompted federal agencies to: Continue reading

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The Health and Welfare of the Nation’s Children (podcast & infographic)

thumbnail of infographicThe long-term success of the nation depends in large part on how well families and society care for children. Our recent report looked at more than 20 indicators to get a picture of the state of children’s well-being. We found that while the U.S. has improved in some categories such as health insurance and high school graduation rates, some subgroups continue to fare worse than others. For example, Black, Hispanic, and poor students’ estimated average reading and math scores are worse than those of their White and non-poor peers. And Hispanic children have the lowest rates of insurance. Continue reading

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