Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Request:

U.S. Government Accountability Office

GAO-11-453T: Published: Mar 11, 2011. Publicly Released: Mar 11, 2011.

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This testimony discusses the U.S. Government Accountability Office's (GAO) budget request for fiscal year 2012. In fiscal year 2010, GAO provided assistance to every standing congressional committee and 70 percent of their subcommittees. Our work yielded significant results across the government, including financial benefits of $49.9 billion--a return on investment of $87 for every dollar invested in GAO. In addition, we documented over 1,300 other benefits resulting from our work that helped improve services to the public, promote improved management throughout government and change laws, such as the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010.

Recently, we issued two major reports that underscore GAO's continuing value in helping Congress and the Administration reduce costs and improve government, particularly in a time of reduced resources. First, on March 1, 2011, we detailed 81 opportunities to reduce duplication, overlap, or fragmentation. These opportunities span a range of federal government mission areas such as agriculture, defense, economic development, energy, general government, health, homeland security, international affairs, and social services. Within and across these missions, our report touches on hundreds of federal programs, affecting virtually all major federal departments and agencies. By reducing or eliminating unnecessary duplication, overlap, or fragmentation and by addressing the other cost-saving and revenue-enhancing opportunities contained in the report, the federal government could save tens of billions of tax dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services. Second, our High Risk update issued on February 17, 2011 identified 30 federal areas and programs at risk of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, and those in need of broad-based transformation. Solutions to high-risk problems offer the potential to save billions of dollars, dramatically improve service to the public, and strengthen confidence and trust in the performance and accountability of the U. S. Government. Looking ahead to fiscal year 2012, GAO is acutely aware of our dual responsibilities in a time of fiscal austerity. First, the Congress has rightly come to rely upon GAO to help identify billions of dollars in cost-saving opportunities to tighten federal budgets or to point out revenue enhancement opportunities. We know our mission becomes ever more critical when the nation faces difficult financial times. But second, GAO must also ensure it meets this responsibility while implementing all possible cost savings in its own operations without diminishing our traditionally high-quality work that lays the foundation for critical decision-making and oversight by the Congress. Accordingly, we are seeking only to maintain our fiscal year 2010 funding level of $556.8 million in fiscal year 2012 and plan to maintain our current authorized staffing levels. While operating at this funding level with no increase poses challenges, GAO is committed to reducing our own costs as much as possible in order to absorb the additional demands and increasing costs of the coming year without additional resources. Our budget request attempts to balance tradeoffs and assumes that we will be able to manage at reduced funding levels, and try to maintain our staffing levels to provide insightful analyses on the most important priorities for congressional oversight and decision making. However, if GAO's funding is reduced below the requested level, more drastic measures would be needed, such as reductions in our staff capacity, which would result in increased delays in responding to congressional requests, limit our ability to provide timely responses to support congressional oversight, and reduce the number of requests that we could complete.

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