WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 15, 2018) – The U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) 2018 work yielded a record $75 billion in financial benefits for the federal government —a return of about $124 on every dollar invested in GAO. In addition, GAO produced nearly 1,300 nonfinancial benefits that shaped legislation and enhanced programs across government. These new statistics are part of GAO’s new performance and accountability report for fiscal year 2018, which was issued today and documents the agency’s efforts during the past year to help the federal government run more efficiently and effectively.
“Our latest performance and accountability report makes clear GAO is one of the best values in government, providing taxpayers with impressive cost savings and improvements to a wide range of programs the American people rely on,” said Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and the head of the GAO. “I want to extend my sincerest appreciation to everyone at GAO for helping to make 2018 such a banner year.”
Key audit work behind this year’s record financial benefits number included
revising spending limits for Medicaid demonstration projects ($36.8 billion);
helping the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services achieve and measure the benefits of its fraud prevention system ($1.3 billion);
identifying unexpended and unobligated balances in the Defense Department’s (DOD) military personnel accounts ($849 million); and
examining improper payments at the Department of Health and Human Services ($1.9 billion).
Some of the benefits of GAO’s work cannot be measured in dollars but involve significant program improvements. For example, GAO’s work on public safety and security helped better protect U.S. manufacturers from economic harm and U.S. consumers from potential risks posed by counterfeit products sold online; prompted the Transportation Security Administration to begin strengthening its strategy for securing airport perimeters and controlling access to restricted areas; and led the Justice Department and the Office of National Drug Control Policy to begin developing results-oriented measures to help them assess progress in combatting the opioid epidemic.
GAO reports on the nation’s most vulnerable populations also delivered results. That work spurred Congress to pass legislation requiring annual data collection and reporting on elder abuse; the Indian Health Service to publish wait time standards for primary care and urgent care visits; and the Federal Communications Commission to begin measuring the effectiveness of industry efforts to prevent wireless network outages to help ensure public access during emergencies. GAO reports also called for guidance to help states better apply protections for substance affected infants as well as updated guidance to better monitor lead in school drinking water.
The agency’s legislative impact in 2018 was also significant. In response to GAO work, Congress directed
the Veterans Health Administration to research the overmedication of veterans that had resulted in deaths, suicides, and mental health disorders;
the Department of Homeland Security to develop performance metrics for all deployed border security and to regularly assess advanced protective technologies for cybersecurity; and
federal agencies, such as DOD, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Center, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to report on how they plan to implement GAO recommendations.
Similarly, GAO influenced the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. On the basis of GAO findings, Congress directed DOD to improve its leadership of business operations, military readiness goals, and implementation strategies; increase reporting on the Columbia-class submarine; and change its space leadership structure.
In 2018, GAO issued 633 reports and made 1,650 new recommendations. Senior GAO officials were asked to testify 98 times on issues affecting nearly every federal activity. For more information, contact Chuck Young in the Office of Public Affairs at (202) 512-4800.
The Government Accountability Office, known as the investigative arm of Congress, is an independent, nonpartisan agency that exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities. GAO also works to improve the performance of the federal government and ensure its accountability to the American people. The agency examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO provides Congress with timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonideological, fair, and balanced. GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and reliability.