GAO Produces Record Return–$338 for Every Dollar Invested in the Agency
WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 19, 2019) – The U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) work yielded a record $214.7 billion in financial benefits for Congress and the nation in fiscal year 2019—a return of about $338 on every dollar invested in GAO. The congressional watchdog agency also produced more than 1,400 other benefits that shaped legislation and improved programs across government. These statistics can be found in GAO’s performance and accountability report for fiscal year 2019 being issued today, which documents the agency’s efforts during the past year to help the federal government work better.
“Our new performance and accountability report underscores GAO’s value both in achieving impressive taxpayer savings and improving programs vital to the wellbeing of the American people,” said Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and the head of the GAO. “I want to thank Congress for its support and congratulate every GAO employee for their contributions that helped to make 2019 another highly successful year.”
GAO’s average return for the past five years has been about $171 for every dollar invested in the agency. Key audit work behind this year’s record financial benefits number include helping reduce the Department of Defense’s procurement costs for weapon systems acquisitions ($136.1 billion) and improving the Internal Revenue Service’s efforts to combat identity theft refund fraud ($900.2 million).
Many benefits of GAO’s reports are measured in program improvements rather than dollar amounts. For example, in the area of public safety and security, GAO work prompted Congress to establish grant programs to test for and remediate sources of lead in school drinking water, including replacing old water fountains. In another instance, the agency’s study of vulnerable populations spurred the Veterans Health Administration to issue a suicide prevention media and outreach management standard operating procedure to help ensure continuity of its suicide prevention efforts.
To better meet Congress’ evolving information needs, GAO continued to build bodies of work in key areas. For example, the agency issued 18 reports and made 52 recommendations relating to a number of challenges associated with disaster response and recovery. GAO also expanded its focus on cybersecurity, hiring around 30 new experts to help build the agency’s capacity in this critical area. GAO’s work identified cybersecurity vulnerabilities in such areas as weapon system acquisitions, the 2020 Census, and information systems at the 23 civilian agencies covered by the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990.
The agency’s legislative impact in 2019 was also significant. For example, in response to GAO work, Congress directed the Department of Veterans Affairs to modernize and improve its appeals process, improve the accuracy and fairness of Gulf War Illness claims, and retrofit facilities to better care for women veterans.
In fiscal year 2019, GAO issued 617 reports and made 1,607 new recommendations. In addition, senior GAO officials were asked to testify 97 times to over 50 different Congressional Committees 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.