21st Century Challenges:

Reexamining the Base of the Federal Government

GAO-05-325SP: Published: Feb 1, 2005. Publicly Released: Feb 1, 2005.

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This report is intended to help the Congress in reviewing and reconsidering the base of federal spending and tax programs. It is intended as one input among many that Congress will receive as it decides what its agenda will be for oversight and program review. We have framed the issues presented as illustrative questions for policymakers to consider as a supplement to their own efforts. The questions are drawn from GAO's issued work, our strategic plan prepared in consultation with the Congress, input from several inspectors general and the institutional knowledge of our staff. They cover discretionary spending, mandatory spending, including entitlements, as well as tax policies and programs. While answers to these questions may draw on the work of GAO and others, only elected officials can and should decide which questions to address as well as how and when to address them. The report is organized in three sections. The first section sets the stage by providing the rationale for reexamining the base of the federal government and the scope of GAO's effort. The second section is organized around 12 areas of federal activity and includes narratives discussing emerging changes in each area as well as several illustrative reexamination questions for each area. The third section provides some perspective on various strategies, processes, and approaches that should be considered as a possible means to address the issues and questions raised in this report.

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