Getting a Good Deal — How to Do Federal Contracting Right

photo of hardhat and blueprintsOliver Hart and Bengt Holmström won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Economics for their contributions to contract theory—which looks at how contract incentives help resolve conflicts of interest between parties.

And, as anyone who’s hired a contractor knows, ensuring that a job is done right (and that you get a good deal) isn’t always easy. In fact, we see these challenges all the time in our work—the federal government bought about $440 billion of goods and services in recent years—and we urge agencies to follow good contracting principles to save money and get better outcomes. Continue reading

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Health Care for Women Veterans (podcast)

GAO Podcast IconThe Department of Veterans Affairs has policies intended to help ensure the privacy, safety, and dignity of women veterans when they receive medical care at its facilities. For example, exam rooms must have privacy curtains and exam tables must face away from doors. In 2010, we found weaknesses in these areas—have things gotten better since then?

A team led by Randy Williamson, a director in our Health Care team, recently looked at the extent to which certain VA facilities were complying with these policies, and found room for improvement. Listen to Randy explain what they found.


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Elder Abuse by Guardians (podcast)

GAO Podcast IconWhen an older adult becomes incapable of making informed decisions, a state may appoint a guardian with the authority to make decisions on that person’s behalf. While many guardians make these personal and financial decisions in good faith, some have been reported to abuse the person in their care.

A team led by Kathy Larin, a director in our Forensic Audits and Investigative Services team, recently looked into the extent of such abuse, and what’s being done to protect older Americans. Listen to Kathy explain what they found.


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Tackling the Tax Code – How the IRS Communicates with Taxpayers

photo of a tax formThe tax code is complex, so taxpayers rely on the IRS to help them understand and follow the law. But the IRS publishes thousands of guidance documents a year, so where should taxpayers start? As we near the end of the tax year, today’s WatchBlog takes a closer look at how the IRS explains the tax code and taxpayers’ responsibilities.

Sorting through it all
Continue reading

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401(k) Eligibility and Vesting Policies (podcast)

GAO Podcast IconMillions of Americans depend on their 401(k) retirement plans to sustain them through their later years. It’s money they’ve been setting aside from their paychecks, and in some cases their employers have kicked in funds as well. But not all 401(k) plans are the same, and differing policies regarding eligibility requirements and employer contributions can have a big impact on workers’ retirement savings.

Listen to Charlie Jeszeck, a director in our Education, Workforce, and Income Security team, discuss some of the policies employers offer, and how they might affect employees’ retirement savings.


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Achieving Financial Benefits—One Action at a Time

Duplication iconSince 2011, we’ve outlined actions federal agencies and Congress can take to reduce fragmentation, overlap, and duplication in federal programs and activities—work that resulted in $56 billion in financial benefits to the federal government between fiscal years 2010 and 2015 (with an additional $69 billion expected through 2025).

November 15 marked our annual update to our Action Tracker, the online tool we use to monitor these actions. Today’s WatchBlog shares some highlights from our latest update.

Taking action Continue reading

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Vehicle Safety – A Closer Look

thumbnail_transportationDriving is one of the riskiest things most Americans do. There were more than 5.5 million vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2013—killing more than 32,000 people and injuring another 2.3 million.

You may remember getting your car inspected for safety, but car condition is a factor in only 2-7% of U.S. crashes according to the Department of Transportation.

In fact, drunk driving, speeding, weather, distracted driving, road conditions, and many other factors contribute to road safety. So, what does this mean for vehicle inspection programs? For Sunday’s World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, we’re sharing some of what we found from our 2015 review.

A history of safety inspections Continue reading

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The Insights and Analyses from Mapping Data

GAO logoGeographic information systems (GIS) are powerful tools that display spatial information (such as locations on a map) in order to help us understand patterns and relationships about our world.

So, with National GIS Day on November 16th, the WatchBlog is looking at how this technology helps us communicate clearly and answer complex questions about loan programs, Amtrak service, and more.

Using GIS to identify… Continue reading

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GAO’s 2016 Performance and Accountability Report—Over $63 Billion in Financial Benefits

cover of 2016 Performance and Accountability ReportOnce a year we like to share the results of our work with you, the taxpayer. This year our audit work produced over $63 billion in financial benefits. In other words, for every $1 Congress invested in us, we returned $112.

And we don’t just work to save you money—we work to improve government effectiveness. This year, we recommended more than 1,200 ways that the federal government could improve operations. How? Among other things, by prompting federal agencies to better:

  • protect U.S. diplomatic personnel and their families overseas
  • prepare for domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive attacks, and
  • prevent payment errors in Medicare.

Continue reading

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Preparing the Next Leaders

thumbnail businessThe elections are over and new leaders are assembling staff, setting priorities, and preparing to tackle major issues facing the nation.

What do these leaders and their staff need to know to hit the ground running in January?

Our Management Agenda provides high-level information about the critical management challenges facing the federal government—and what needs to happen to address those challenges. Continue reading

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