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GAO’s Strategic Issues Team

Posted on April 28, 2015
GAO’s workforce is organized largely by subject area, with most employees working in 1 of 14 mission teams. Today, we’ll spotlight the Strategic Issues (SI) team, which focuses on helping Congress and federal agencies address the governance and management challenges of the 21st century. Reports SI team reports cover these issue areas: SI also coordinates GAO’s high risk series that highlights every 2 years the agencies and program areas that are vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or are most in need of transformation. Impact In fiscal year 2014, SI’s work identified $2.4 billion in financial benefits for the federal government as well as 84 other benefits. Directors from SI testified at 5 congressional hearings and contributed to 3 testimonies with other GAO teams. A Closer Look at a Strategic Issues report: Sequestrationsequestration thumbnail For the first time in more than 2 decades, across-the-board spending cuts in 2013—known as sequestration—reduced federal agencies’ budgets by a total of $80.5 billion. We examined how 23 large federal agencies planned for and later implemented sequestration, and looked at the effects of the reduced spending. Although Congress and agencies shifted funds from lower to higher priorities, sequestration still had a wide range of effects on federal agency operations and services to the public. We found:
  • Service Reduction. Agencies reported that sequestration reduced assistance for education, housing, and nutrition, as well as health and science research and development grants. Some agencies also experienced backlogs and service delivery delays because of personnel constraints such as limited hiring and furloughs.
  • Investment Delays. Agencies reported putting off investments in information technology and facilities projects, among others.
  • Federal Workforce Effects. More than 770,000 federal employees were furloughed for 1 to 7 days. Agencies also canceled or limited monetary awards, reduced employee travel and training, and curtailed hiring—with possible negative effects on employee morale and workforce retention and recruitment.
In response to our recommendation, the Office of Management and Budget documented and made publicly available critical information on the 2013 sequestration. This should help agencies plan and implement any future sequestrations. Listen to this podcast for more:
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