GAO Mission and Operations:
GAO's Congressional Protocols
OCG-00-2, Jan 24, 2000
GAO developed congressional protocols for governing its work to better serve Congress, to improve the efficacy and efficiency of its work, and to ensure equitable treatment of all requesters.
GAO noted that: (1) to effectively support Congress, GAO must be professional, objective, fact-based, nonpartisan, nonideological, fair, and balanced in all its work; (2) GAO will strive to meet Congress' needs and exercise the independence necessary to guarantee that its products and work conform to its core values; (3) GAO undertakes work through congressional mandates, congressional requests, and legal authority; (4) GAO has a statutory obligation to fulfill requests from Congress and its committees; (5) requests for GAO work must be made in writing by a member, unless the work involves limited technical assistance or provision of readily available information, and should be addressed to the Comptroller General; (6) for requests that involve work on the internal operations of Congress, the Senate, House, or both, GAO will work with the requester to seek bipartisan support; (7) GAO will provide the following to all members who request work: (a) written communication acknowledging receipt of request within 10 calendar days; (b) initiation of a meeting with requester's staff within 30 calendar days; (c) initial estimate of staff days required before undertaking the work; (d) option for original requester to approve an unlimited number of co-requesters; (e) letter confirming the terms of agreement for the work within 14 calendar days after GAO and the requester agree on the terms; (f) periodic status reports; (g) option to withdraw at any time sponsorship of work that is not intended to result in a written product; (h) copy of draft report, if requested, when it is sent to the agency for comment; (i) option to restrict the release of a product for up to 30 calendar days after the date the product is issued; and (j) option to withdraw sponsorship at any time before the product is submitted for printing; (8) in limited circumstances, GAO may be unable to honor a request if the request addresses an issue of broad interest to multiple committees, involves an issue of legislative priority, is on a fast legislative track, or asks for a compilation of information from GAO's prior work or work originally requested by others; (9) all congressionally requested products will have a targeted issuance date and GAO will notify requesters 30 calendar days before they are to receive a product; (10) in response to inquiries about ongoing work, whether by congressional staff or the media, GAO will only disclose the names of requesters and the project's objectives, scope, methodology, and expected date of completion; and (11) GAO's Special Investigations Office will investigate referrals concerning allegations of federal fraud, waste, abuse, or misconduct.