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GAO’s 2017 High Risk List Update

Posted on February 15, 2017

Today we released our updated High Risk List, which includes three new areas:

We also removed an area related to sharing and managing of information related to terrorism, after agencies made significant progress in addressing this area.

Every 2 years, at the beginning of a new Congress, we update our High Risk List— highlighting areas in government that are particularly vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement, or needing broad-based transformation. With the addition of the three new areas, today’s update discusses 34 high-risk areas, including for each:

  • Why it is high risk,
  • What we found, and
  • What remains to be done.

Listen to Chris Mihm, Managing Director of our Strategic Issues team, discuss some highlights from our latest update:

2017 Update to GAO's High Risk List

Today’s WatchBlog discusses further changes to high-risk areas, as well as how we measure progress towards getting off the list.

Expanded, Removed, and Narrowed Areas

Along with the addition of 3 new areas, our 2017 list expanded 2 areas, removed 1, and narrowed 2 others. Due to challenges that have emerged over the past several years, we expanded:

We also removed sharing and managing terrorism-related information from the list, because significant progress had been made to strengthen how intelligence on terrorism, homeland security, and law enforcement is shared among relevant partners at all levels of government.

Lastly, improvements in management and oversight enabled us to narrow:

Our Rating System, and Getting Off the List

We continue to use our 5-point star rating system to measure progress against our 5 criteria for removal from the High Risk List. This short, animated video from 2015 explains further:

GAO's Rating System for High Risk Areas


In 2015, GAO introduced a rating system for tracking progress in High Risk areas. See how GAO depicts each area’s rating with its five-pointed star tool.

Our goal is to eliminate the High Risk List, but it will take continued perseverance by the executive branch in implementing our recommended solutions and continued oversight and action by Congress to get there. Learn more in our full report or on our High Risk page.

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