Shedding Light on Tennessee Valley Authority Debt

energyOn this date in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the law that brought the Tennessee Valley Authority into existence. It is now the country’s largest public power provider, delivering electricity to more than 9 million people.

The electric utility industry requires huge upfront investments to ensure that utilities can meet future energy needs. The 84-year-old TVA, however, is already billions of dollars in debt—and needs to fund its pensions on top of that. Today’s WatchBlog explores TVA’s debts and what it needs to do to prepare for the energy demands of the future. Continue reading

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Separate and Unequal?

Today, the nation marks the 63rd anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court case declaring that racially segregated schools are unconstitutional. On last year’s anniversary, we released a report examining race and poverty in schools. We found that some K-12 public schools appeared to still be segregated by race, and also by class. We looked at how these schools measured up to others, and found some disparities. Continue reading

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Who Let the Watchdogs Out? We’re on Location Discussing the Internet of Things (video podcast)

GAO's Watchdog Report Big Bite!Have you ever used a fitness tracker to measure your daily steps? Or adjusted your home thermostat from your phone? If you answered yes, then you’ve experienced the Internet of Things.

If you haven’t heard the term before, the Internet of Things basically refers to how devices, appliances, and vehicles are increasingly designed to capture data and personal information, send it to the internet, and improve efficiency or assist with decision making. Is this a good thing? Are there risks?

In our latest Watchdog Report Big Bite Editionour first video podcast—we’re on location around Washington D.C. discussing our new report on the societal benefits—and potential risks—of the Internet of Things:

Continue reading

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Technology in Transit

Do you use public transportation? If so, you may have noticed that your trips are more high-tech than they used to be. That’s because transit agencies are using Intelligent Transportation Systems—like computer-aided dispatch and automatic vehicle location—to help make your neighborhood buses, trains, and metros more efficient.

For National Transportation Week, today’s WatchBlog looks at the challenges and benefits associated with this technology.

Figure 1: Use of Selected Transit ITS Technologies Continue reading

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Podcast Roundup – Recent Podcasts You May Have Missed

Watchdog ReportIt’s been a busy spring for podcasting! If you’re not subscribed on iTunes or our RSS feed, you may be missing out. Today’s WatchBlog catches you up on some of our recent podcasts. Continue reading

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Building a Better Federal Workforce

Public Service Recognition Week logoThis week marks Public Service Recognition Week. During this annual event, we usually feature some of our work on the federal workforce—and this year is no exception. Continue reading

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The DATA Act Reporting Deadline Is Here—Will Agencies Show You the Money?

Ever wonder how federal agencies spend the trillions of dollars they’re allotted each year? Well Congress did too, and it passed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act), which required agencies to submit standardized, accurate financial information so that legislators, government officials, and the taxpaying public can follow the money more closely. Continue reading

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May the Fourth Be Well Insured

photo of the earth from spaceYou should have pretty good insurance before handing your car keys to Han Solo.

While we don’t have insights into the Millennium Falcon’s insurance policy, the federal government has helped the commercial space launch industry since 1988 by sharing the liability for potential damages that could result from a launch accident.

On this Star Wars Day, the WatchBlog is examining the liability risk in commercial space launches. Continue reading

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GAO Insights into the Nation’s Finances and the Role of the Debt Limit

Today, U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro delivered testimony to Congress on our nation’s unsustainable long-term fiscal position. He said that the Congress and administration face serious economic, security, and social challenges that will require difficult policy choices in the short term about the level of federal spending and investments, as well as ways to obtain needed resources. In addition to near-term financing decisions, a broader plan is needed to put the government on a more sustainable long-term fiscal path. Continue reading

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Small Businesses and Financial Technology

photo of a pile of moneyIn today’s world, it’s not unusual for people to go online to conduct all kinds of business that used to be done face-to-face. It is not surprising then that new technologies are being used to provide financial services directly to consumers. These innovations are known as “FinTech” (financial technology). We looked at a number of issues related to the burgeoning FinTech industry. Continue reading

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