Fiscal Year 2005 Budget Request:

U.S. General Accounting Office

GAO-04-474T: Published: Mar 4, 2004. Publicly Released: Mar 4, 2004.

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GAO exists to support the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people. GAO's work covers virtually every area in which the federal government is or may become involved, anywhere in the world. Perhaps just as importantly, our work sometimes leads us to sound the alarm over problems looming just beyond the horizon--such as our nation's enormous long-term fiscal challenges--and help policymakers address these challenges in a timely and informed manner. This testimony focuses on GAO's (1) fiscal year 2003 performance and results; (2) efforts to maximize our effectiveness, responsiveness, and value; and (3) budget request for fiscal year 2005 to support the Congress and serve the American people.

In summary, the funding GAO received in fiscal year 2003 allowed it to conduct work that addressed many of the difficult issues confronting the nation, including diverse and diffuse security threats, selected government transformation challenges, and the nation's long-term fiscal imbalance. Perhaps the foremost challenge facing the government decision makers this year was ensuring the security of the American people. By providing professional, objective, and nonpartisan information and analyses, GAO helped inform the Congress and the executive branch agencies on key security issues, such as the nature and scope of threats confronting the nation's nuclear weapons facilities, its information systems, and all areas of its transportation infrastructure, as well as the challenges involved in creating the Department of Homeland Security. Its work was also driven by changing demographic trends, which led it to focus on such areas as the quality of care in the nation's nursing homes and the risks to the government's single-employer pension insurance program. Its work in these and other areas covered programs that involve billions of dollars and touch millions of lives. Importantly, in fiscal year 2003, GAO generated a $78 return for each $1 appropriated to the agency. With the Congress's support, GAO has demonstrated that becoming world class does not require a substantial increase in the number of staff authorized, but rather maximizing the efficient and effective use of the resources available to us. GAO has worked with Congress to obtain targeted funding for areas critical to GAO such as information technology, security, and human capital management. In keeping with the Comptroller General's belief that the federal government needs to exercise a greater degree of fiscal discipline, GAO has kept its request to $486 million, an increase of only 4.9 percent over fiscal year 2004. In keeping with the Congress' intent, GAO is continuing its efforts to revamp its budget presentation to make the linkages between funding and program areas more clear.

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