Privacy, Legal, and Other Site Policies

GAO Privacy and Security Notification


Thanks for visiting our Web site and reviewing our privacy policy. This site is provided as a public service by the Government Accountability Office. The documents and information contained on this site are public information and may be freely distributed or copied.

We do not routinely collect personally identifiable information when you visit our Web site or our accounts on third-party social media sites. We do, however, collect personal information in several circumstances, which are described below. In addition, we collect some technical information when you visit our site to help improve site service and to make your navigation seamless. All of the information posted to our site is protected in accordance with GAO security policies. Information posted to third-party social media sites and applications is not under GAO control.

Information Collected and Stored

If you visit the Web site to read or download information, we automatically gather and store certain technical information about your visit. This information is collected for site management and statistical purposes only. This information never identifies who you are and we do not track or record information about individuals or attempt to identify individual users or their usage patterns.

The information we collect and store about your visit includes:

    • The name of the domain from which you access the Internet;
    • The date and time you access our site; and
    • The Internet address of the Web site from which you accessed our site or the Internet address of the computer used to link to our site.

This information is only used to help us make our site more useful for you. Through collecting this data we learn about the number of visitors to our site and the types of technology our visitors use. GAO uses this information to determine interest in various areas of the site and to monitor system performance. We will not obtain personally identifying information about you when you visit our site unless you voluntarily choose to provide such information to us by e-mail, or by completing a comment or other online form.

If You Send Us Personal Information

If you choose to provide us with personally identifiable information—for example, by filling out an e-mail form to subscribe to our publications mailing list—we may use that information to respond to your comment or to get you the information you have requested. That information is temporarily retained and then destroyed in accordance with guidelines of the National Archives and Records Administration. We will not release any personally identifiable information, including e-mail addresses, to the public or to private organizations. We never create individual profiles or give such information to any private organizations. GAO never collects information for commercial marketing.


When you visit our Web site, small bits of text known as cookies are stored on your computer. GAO uses both per-session and persistent cookies to make it easier for you to comment on a report, complete a survey, and navigate our site, as well as for GAO to gather information about how our site is used to help us improve its performance.

Per-session cookies are stored in memory, are only available during an active browser session, and are erased as soon as you leave our Web site. Persistent cookies, which are not erased when you leave our site, anonymously track how you interact with our site, including where you came from and what you did during your visit. Neither our persistent nor our per-session cookies collects personally identifiable information on users. All data collected is used only for the purposes described above, and is accessible to GAO staff whose duties require it.

If you do not wish to have your visit information collected, you may opt-out by disabling cookies in your browser settings (instructions: Doing so will still permit you to access our full Web site.

Site Security and Intrusion Detection

GAO uses software to monitor traffic and to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, to cause harm, or otherwise to damage this site. Unauthorized attempts to upload information or change information on this server are strictly prohibited. Unauthorized use, tampering with or modification of this system—including supporting hardware or software—may subject the violator to criminal and civil penalties. In the event of unauthorized intrusion, all relevant information regarding possible violation of law may be provided to law enforcement officials.

Social Media

GAO uses social media tools to share mission-related information that has been collected and approved for public dissemination. Please note that links or references to these third-party sites are provided solely for the convenience of the user, and do not constitute an endorsement by GAO. GAO does not own, manage, or control the applications used on third-party social Web sites. Although some social media Web sites may request information at the time of registration, GAO does not routinely collect or retain any private information from our use of third-party social media Web sites or applications. In some cases, we may collect posted comments on these sites when necessary to determine whether and how to respond to a posted inquiry. To the extent that GAO collects or retains information posted to social media sites or applications, it will be maintained in GAO's records management system which has security control safeguards in place for the protection of this information. GAO will retain comments or other information copied from these sites and applications only as long as data retention schedules require.

GAO encourages all users to read the privacy policies of the third-party sites and applications before registering or posting information. GAO disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from any comments posted on these sites and applications.


If you have any questions or comments regarding GAO's privacy policy, please contact the GAO Privacy Office at

GAO welcomes questions about this site. Please address them to