Why Do GAO Recommendations Get Implemented?

Posted on May 09, 2014
While GAO is empowered to make recommendations to federal agencies and to bring matters to Congress for their consideration, we don’t actually have the authority to require agencies to make changes. Yet, we consistently report results we have achieved for the taxpayer. Clearly, agencies are taking our recommendations. Here’s why: Our auditors approach their work with generally accepted government auditing standards in hand, starting with a carefully considered methodology and taking the right questions into the field. We take the necessary steps to determine that the data we use is sufficiently reliable to support the findings we report. Findings that back our recommendations are built on a rigorous framework that includes:
  • criteria (how should it be?);
  • condition (how is it?);
  • cause (why is there a difference?); and
  • effect (what bad thing is happening because of the difference between how it should be and how it is?).
With this framework and our sophisticated approach to internal review, we can ensure that our findings are fact-based, accurate, and objective. Although we don’t have the authority to make agencies take our recommendations, they can trust that those recommendations came from reliable data and fully-supported findings. As our recent annual Performance and Accountability report highlighted, federal agencies and Congress have implemented 79% of the roughly 1,820 recommendations we’ve made in the last 4 years. We will continue making recommendations that agencies and Congress can trust to help the government save time, effort, and money.