We assess our performance using a balanced set of quantitative measures in four key areas: results, client, people, and internal operations. Our priority measures are financial and other (nonfinancial) benefits describing the results of our audit work. Our methodology describes the steps we take to ensure data quality for our performance measures, including the definition and background, data sources, verification and validation, and data limitations for each of the measures in the four key areas. For additional details, see pages 133-141 of GAO's performance and accountability report for fiscal year 2016.
Our findings and recommendations produce measurable financial benefits for the federal government after the Congress or agencies take action in response to them. The financial benefit can be the result of changes in business operations and activities; restructuring federal programs; or modifications to entitlements, taxes, or user fees. In fiscal year 2016, our work yielded $63.4 billion in financial benefits—a return of about $112 for every dollar invested in GAO. Examples include (1) reducing improper payments in the Medicare Advantage Program (about $21.4 billion), (2) increasing the use of strategic sourcing by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reduce procurement costs (about $3.6 billion), and (3) improving cost estimates for the Department of Defense’s Bulk Fuel Operation and Maintenance budget (about $2.3 billion).
Many other benefits resulting from our work cannot be measured in dollars, but lead to program and operational improvements across the government. During fiscal year 2016, we recorded 1,234 of these other benefits. Our work led to improvements in numerous areas affecting public safety and security and the efficient and effective functioning of government programs. For example, our work
- prompted the Department of Transportation to enhance its oversight of roadside safety hardware (e.g., guardrails), including a new process to verify third-party crash-test results
- identified steps that the U.S. Federal Air Marshal Service could take to better incorporate security risks into decisions about deploying air marshals.
- prompted the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau CFPB to issue consumer advisories to reduce the exploitation of vulnerable people regarding pension advances
- identified actions that the Office of Management and Budget and Treasury can take to implement the DATA Act, to improve the quality and transparency of data on the federal government’s spending;
- prompted VA to improve the accuracy of the data collected on veteran suicides across its medical centers to better inform suicide prevention efforts
- led the National Guard to improve its preparation for a domestic response to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives.