Using Money When You Can’t See It

thumbnail_equal_opportunityHow does someone who is visually impaired distinguish a $1 bill from a $5 or a $20? It’s nearly impossible—U.S. paper currency is all the same size, same general design, and has the same texture.

But there’s also no simple fix because people have varying types and degrees of visual impairment.

For Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week, the WatchBlog explores the 3-pronged approach the Treasury Department is taking to make U.S. currency more accessible to the visually impaired. Continue reading

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The Stubborn Problem of Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud (podcast)

GAO Podcast IconThe Internal Revenue Service estimates that it paid out more than $3 billion in identity theft tax refund fraud in 2014—i.e., fraudsters using stolen identities to file taxes in someone else’s name, collecting tax refunds, and then disappearing.

Jay McTigue, a director of our Strategic Issues team, recently led a review of the IRS’s efforts to combat identity theft tax refund fraud. Listen to him talk about the accuracy of the IRS’s estimates of this type of fraud, the government’s defenses against it, and why it will continue to be a major threat.


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Securing the Nation’s Most Sensitive Information (podcast)

GAO Podcast IconHigh-impact federal information systems hold sensitive information, which, if lost, could cause catastrophic harm to individuals, the government, and the nation.

We recently surveyed federal agencies about cyber threats to high-impact systems and efforts to protect them. Listen to Greg Wilshusen, a director in our Information Technology team, explain what his team found:

 


Comments on the WatchBlog? Contact blog@gao.gov.

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Managing DOD’s Spare Parts

defenseSpare parts. Every military service—the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps—has them, and they’re crucial to ensuring that complicated and expensive weapons systems work when needed.

There are also a lot of them—as of September 2014, the Department of Defense managed about 5 million of these items, worth nearly $100 billion.

The Defense Logistics Agency is DOD’s go-to entity for managing spare parts. But are the military services taking advantage of what DLA has to offer? Continue reading

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Customer Service for Federal Student Loan Borrowers (podcast)

GAO Podcast IconThe Department of Education issued almost $96 billion in higher education loans through its Direct Loan Program in fiscal year 2015. Under this program, students borrow from the federal government, but repay the loan through loan servicers under contract with the Department of Education.

But are these student loan borrowers getting the kind of customer service they need to manage and pay back their loans?

Listen to Melissa Emrey-Arras, a director in our Education, Workforce, and Income Security team, discuss problems with how loan servicers communicate with borrowers, and the need for better oversight of these services.


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Help for Those Who Help Provide Special Education

Education Thumbnail imageSince 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has helped school-aged children with disabilities obtain an education. Last fiscal year, it helped nearly 7 million students participate in classes and engage in school-based activities.

But are educators spending more time filling out paperwork for IDEA than they are in the classroom?

As this school year comes to a close, today’s WatchBlog looks at efforts to lighten IDEA’s administrative workload. Continue reading

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Managing for Results in the Federal Government (podcast)

GAO Podcast IconEvery year, certain executive branch federal agencies are supposed to identify their major management challenges and report on their specific plans to fix them. But are they following through and effectively identifying challenges and solutions?

Listen to Chris Mihm, managing director of our Strategic Issues team, explain major federal management issues and how they can be resolved.

 

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Privacy, Accuracy, and the FBI’s Face Recognition Technology (podcast)

GAO Podcast IconFace recognition technology used to only be the stuff of science fiction. The FBI now uses this technology for investigative leads. But how well can this new technology actually link crime images to criminals? And where is the FBI getting all of those photos to search for matches?

Listen to Diana Maurer, a director in our Homeland Security and Justice team, share what her team found when it recently looked into the accuracy and privacy of the FBI’s use of face recognition technology.

 

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How to Spot and Report Government Fraud, Waste and Abuse (infographic)

infographic thumbnailYou may already know that members of the public can anonymously report allegations of fraud, waste, abuse or mismanagement of federal funds to GAO’s FraudNet.

But what exactly constitutes fraud? And what’s the difference between waste and abuse? To help navigate these finer points, and to see how FraudNet helps protect federal funds, check out our latest infographic: Continue reading

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Our 24/7 Fraud Reporting Line

Photo of GAO Special Agent badgeFor nearly 40 years, people have reported suspicions of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement of federal funds to our FraudNet team. Today’s WatchBlog peeks inside FraudNet to see what happens to the calls, emails, and other tips we receive. A new expansion of the fraud line will  occur in July and it will become available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A group effort

Our FraudNet team works closely with other law enforcement entities and state and federal agencies. Of the more than Continue reading

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