U.S. Government Accountability Office:

Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Request

GAO-06-417T: Published: Mar 10, 2006. Publicly Released: Mar 10, 2006.

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This testimony discusses the fiscal year 2007 budget request for the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). This request will help us continue our support of the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and will help improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people. Budget constraints in the federal government grew tighter in fiscal years 2005 and 2006. In developing our fiscal year 2007 budget, we considered those constraints consistent with GAO's and the Committee's desire to "lead by example." In fiscal year 2007, we are requesting budget authority of $509.4 million, a reasonable 5 percent increase over our fiscal year 2006 revised funding level. In the event Congress acts to hold federal pay increases to 2.2 percent, our requested increase will drop to below 5 percent. This request will allow us to continue making improvements in productivity, maintain our progress in technology and other transformation areas, and support a full-time equivalent (FTE) staffing level of 3,267. This represents an increase of 50 FTEs over our planned fiscal year 2006 staffing level and will allow us to rebuild our workforce to a level that will position us to better respond to increasing supply and demand imbalances in areas such as disaster assistance, the global war on terrorism, homeland security, forensic auditing, and health care.

Our fiscal year 2007 budget request will provide us the resources necessary to achieve our performance goals in support of the Congress and the American people. This request will allow GAO to improve productivity and maintain progress in technology and other transformation areas. We continue to streamline GAO, modernize our policies and practices, and leverage technology so that we can achieve our mission more effectively and efficiently. These continuing efforts allow us to enhance our performance without significant increases in funding. Our fiscal year 2007 budget request represents a modest increase of about $25 million (or 5 percent) over our fiscal year 2006 revised funding level--primarily to cover uncontrollable mandatory pay and price level increases. This request reflects a reduction of nearly $5.4 million in nonrecurring fiscal year 2006 costs used to offset the fiscal year 2007 increase. This request also includes about $7 million in one-time fiscal year 2007 costs, which will not recur in fiscal year 2008, to upgrade our business systems and processes. As the Congress addresses the devastation in the Gulf Coast region from Hurricane Katrina and several other major 2005 hurricanes, GAO is supporting the Congress by assessing whether federal programs assisting the people of the Gulf region are efficient and effective and result in a strong return on investment. In order to address the demands of this work; better respond to the increasing number of demands being placed on GAO, including a dramatic increase in health care mandates; and address supply and demand imbalances in our ability to respond to congressional interest in areas such as disaster assistance, homeland security, the global war on terrorism, health care, and forensic auditing, we are seeking Congressional support to provide the funding to rebuild our staffing level to the levels requested in previous years. In preparing this request and taking into account the effects of the fiscal year 2006 rescission, we revised our workforce plan to reduce fiscal year 2005 hiring and initiated a voluntary early retirement opportunity for staff in January 2006. These actions better support GAO's strategic plan for serving the Congress, better align GAO's workforce to meet mission needs, correct selected skill imbalances, and allow us to increase the number of new hires later in fiscal year 2006. Our revised hiring plan represents an aggressive hiring level that is significantly higher than in recent fiscal years, and it is the maximum number of staff we could absorb during fiscal year 2006. Our fiscal year 2007 budget request includes approximately $502 million in direct appropriations and authority to use about $7 million in estimated revenue from rental income and reimbursable audit work. Our fiscal year 2007 budget request supports three broad program areas: Human Capital, Engagement Support, and Infrastructure Operations. Consistent with our strategic goal to be a model agency, we have undertaken a number of initiatives to implement performance-based, market-oriented compensation systems; adopt best practices; benchmark service levels and costs; streamline our operations; cross-service and outsource activities; and leverage technology to increase efficiency, productivity, and results.

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