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Where Do GAO Reports Come From?

Posted on January 28, 2014
As an independent nonpartisan agency that reports to Congress, our work comes from 3 main sources:
  • Congressional Requests. Congressional committees, subcommittees, or members of Congress can request that we look into a particular subject. In conjunction with members of Congress, we developed our Congressional Protocols, which outline policies and procedures for accepting and completing work. Once a request is accepted, our teams work to develop nonpartisan, objective researchable questions that address the requester’s subject of interest.
  • Mandates. Some of our work is statutorily required by public laws or committee reports. For example, Congress mandated our annual reports on Duplication & Cost Savings in Government.
  • Comptroller General’s Authority. The Comptroller General also has the authority under U.S. law to initiate GAO work in “all matters relating to the receipt, disbursement, and application of public funds.” We do some of our work under CG authority, in matters of particular national importance.
GAO building entranceRegardless of how our work is initiated, we always seek to advise Congress and the heads of executive agencies about ways to make government more efficient, effective, ethical, equitable, and responsive. Most GAO reports and testimonies are publicly available, unless they contain classified information. In fiscal year 2013, GAO reaped $51.5 billion in financial benefits and helped make the government more efficient in 1,314 other ways. GAO’s annual performance and accountability report provides more details.