The History of GAO - Recent Years

During the last 20 years, GAO has sought to improve accountability by alerting policymakers and the public to emerging problems throughout government. In the 1980s, for example, the agency reported on problems brewing in the savings and loan industry and repeatedly warned about the government's failure to control deficit spending. But GAO did more than just point out shortcomings in government operations. It worked with executive branch agencies to strengthen financial management. GAO urged federal agencies to modernize outmoded financial systems, prepare yearly financial statements, and submit them for audit. As the 1990s drew to a close, GAO did important work on a range of issues--computer security, conditions at nursing homes, the choices posed by continuing budget surpluses, and so on. Today, the agency that once checked millions of government vouchers has become a multidisciplinary organization equipped to handle Congress’s toughest audit and evaluation assignments.

In 2018 we published the book GAO: Reporting the Facts, 1981-1996, The Charles A. Bowsher Years. This book recounts highlights from Bowsher’s tenure as GAO’s Comptroller General.