FDA Oversight of Foreign Drug Safety (podcast)

GAO Podcast IconMuch of the U.S. drug supply is manufactured overseas, and the Food and Drug Administration inspects drug manufacturing facilities around the world to ensure that their drugs are safe for the U.S. market. How effective are these inspections?

Listen to Marcia Crosse, a director in our Health Care team, discuss her team’s recent review of FDA’s oversight of foreign drugs.

 

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Relief for Older Americans with Student Loans

photo of an aging person's handsAn increasing number of older Americans have defaulted on their federal student loan debt. To recover this debt, the federal government can withhold a portion of Social Security payments—a process known as offsetting.

A team led by Allison Bawden, a director in our Education, Workforce, and Income Security team, recently looked at older Americans’ student loan debt and the Social Security offset program. Listen to what they found:


Today’s WatchBlog further explores the issue. Continue reading

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What You Should Know About the Earned Income Tax Credit

photo of a tax formDo you know whether you’re eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit? For the EITC to work as Congress intended, it’s important that eligible taxpayers are aware of the credit and know how to properly claim it. One of the steps that the IRS has taken to educate taxpayers and tax preparers is designating an EITC Awareness Day—which is today. So, the WatchBlog is taking a look at some of our work on the EITC. Continue reading

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Smartphone Apps and Stalking

photo of satellite dishThese days, wherever people go, their smartphones follow—often collecting location data along the way. You may choose to download an app to your phone to share this information. For example, an app can show your friend how far away you are and when you can be expected to arrive.

However, if someone downloads one of these apps without your knowledge, he or she could use that information to reveal sensitive information about you, such as whether you visited a doctor or an attorney.

For National Stalking Awareness Month, the WatchBlog is looking at how some smartphone apps can facilitate stalking and how the federal government is trying to protect potential victims. Continue reading

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Actions for New Leaders – Our Priorities for Policy Makers App

photo of app in useDonald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States just a few days ago and the 115th Congress took office earlier this month. The new administration and Congress are taking shape, and will soon begin the tough task of leading the nation.

Where might these policymakers—legislative, executive, old, and new—look to start?

We suggest they check out our “Priorities for Policy Makers” app—available free on the App Store® or Google Play™. Continue reading

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A Check-Up on the Government’s Fiscal Health

2017_fiscaloutlook_slider_thumbAfter 6 years of declining deficits, the federal deficit increased to $587 billion in 2016 and U.S. debt held by the public stood at about $14.2 trillion at the end of 2016. These figures are only expected to grow.

The federal government’s long-term fiscal outlook is unsustainable.

To help policymakers grapple with this problem, we regularly prepare long-term fiscal simulations to show how the federal debt could grow or shrink based on different policy choices.

Today, we released the first of an annual overview report on the federal government’s fiscal condition and long-term fiscal health, and updated our fiscal outlook webpage. Read on for some of the highlights, our latest video explaining the issue, and some solutions to this growing problem. Continue reading

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Tracking Foreign Aid

Table 1: U.S. Government Foreign Assistance ReportingYou can find out how much money the United States spends on foreign assistance, and where that money is going, on ForeignAssistance.gov—an official U.S. website that publishes this data.

For example, ForeignAssistance.gov indicated that foreign assistance funding will be almost $34 billion for fiscal year 2017. But is that data accurate?

We recently examined foreign assistance data on ForeignAssistance.gov and today’s WatchBlog shares what we found. Continue reading

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Life’s Difficult Decisions: Choosing a Nursing Home for a Loved One

photo of elderly hands on a keyboardEvery year, millions of Americans seek care in nursing homes. If you or a close friend or family member are in this position, how would you choose the right one?

Fortunately, the government runs a website called Nursing Home Compare, which has information that is meant to help people research and compare nursing homes. While the website is generally helpful to people, we found some ways it could be improved. Today’s WatchBlog looks at Nursing Home Compare—and its Five-Star Rating System.

Comparing Nursing Home Quality Continue reading

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Housing for Homeless Veterans through VA’s Enhanced-Use Lease Program (interactive graphics)

GAO graphics iconApproximately 39,000 U.S. veterans were homeless as of January 2016 due to factors such as mental health issues and substance abuse. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ enhanced-use lease program turns unused federal buildings into affordable housing for homeless veterans.

This housing comes with crucial supportive services, including access to medical care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, and assistance with transportation.

The Department of Veterans Affairs' 70 Enhanced-Use Leases, as of September 2016

Our recent interactive graphics shows each state’s homeless veteran population, as well as the current and future location and status of enhanced-use leasing units. To interact with these graphics, visit the full report page.

 

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Reflections on Addiction and Recovery (videos)

GAO_Video_icon-largeOver 47,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States in 2014—more than any previous year on record. In fact, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death by injury in the country, surpassing auto accidents.

To help policymakers and the public understand drug abuse—including misuse of prescription drugs—and what can be done to address it, we added Illicit Drug Use to our collection of Key Issues. This new Key Issues page provides bottom line information about the issue and links to our key reports on the topic, including the results of our 2016 forum on strategies to prevent illicit drug use.

In order to illustrate the impact of illicit drug use on individuals and families, the forum began with two video testimonials of individuals who are in recovery from a substance abuse disorder—discussing how they started using drugs and their paths to recovery. Watch their stories:

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