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?).