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United States Government Accountability Office: GAO: 

2012 Update to GAO Strategic Plan 2010–2015: 

Table of Contents: 

Letter from the Comptroller General: 



Overview of GAO’s Strategic Plan for Serving the Congress: 

Adjustments to Certain Strategic Objectives: 

Actions GAO Has Taken to Constrain Costs and Improve Efficiency: 

GAO’s Strategic Plan Helps GAO Respond to a Dynamic Environment: 

[End of section] 

Letter from the Comptroller General: 

February 2012: 

I am pleased to present this interim update to GAO’s 2010-2015 
strategic plan for serving the Congress. We are issuing this update in 
response to the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act 
of 2010 (the Modernization Act).[Footnote 1] The Modernization Act 
requires agencies to adjust their strategic plans as necessary in 
February 2012 to make them consistent with the act’s requirements. 
Although as a legislative branch agency we are exempt from many laws 
that apply to executive branch agencies, we hold ourselves to the 
spirit of many of these laws, including the Modernization Act. 

After reviewing our existing strategic plan for serving the Congress, 
we have determined the plan conforms to the relevant requirements for 
strategic plan content as defined by the Modernization Act. We issued 
our current strategic plan in July 2010 after extensive research and 
consultation with the Congress.[Footnote 2] Fundamentally our plan 
remains sound. It was crafted to be comprehensive, yet flexible enough 
to accommodate change. Although at this time our strategic goals and 
objectives remain largely unaltered, we may need to revise them as we 
continue our ongoing outreach and consultation with our congressional 
clients to ensure the plan remains in tune with congressional 

GAO is changing its strategic planning cycle to be consistent with the 
Modernization Act’s requirement for agencies to update their strategic 
plans every 4 years rather than at least every 3 years. Therefore, the 
current GAO Strategic Plan for 2010-2015 will remain in effect, with 
some minor changes, through our plan’s next issuance in February 2014. 
The Appendix provides further details on the slight adjustments we 
have made to our plan and planning cycle. It also highlights some of 
the specific work we plan to conduct under our strategic goals and 
objectives to serve the needs of the Congress. 

As identified in our 2010-2015 strategic plan, the cross-cutting 
trends likely to affect the federal government and GAO’s work are 
still relevant today: evolving threats to U.S. national security 
interests, fiscal sustainability and debt challenges, a focus on 
economic recovery and renewed job growth, changing dynamics of global 
interdependence and shifts in power, transformative developments in 
science and technology, rapid expansion of collaborative networks, 
changes in government and governance, and demographic and societal 
changes affecting young and old. We expect the trends will continue to 
have far-reaching effects on government programs and operations, as 
well as the work the Congress asks GAO to conduct. 

GAO will continue to provide high-quality and independent support to 
the Congress in ways that generate material benefits to the nation. As 
the Congress and the administration debate ways to address the federal 
government’s unsustainable long-term fiscal path, our mission becomes 
ever more critical to help identify billions of dollars in cost-saving 
opportunities to tighten federal budgets and identify revenue-
enhancement opportunities needed to maintain vital government 
services. Through our ongoing strategic planning efforts, we remain 
committed to providing accurate, objective, nonpartisan, and 
constructive information to help the Congress conduct effective 
oversight and fulfill its constitutional responsibilities. 

GAO’s strategic plan for serving the Congress and the nation 
highlights the broad scope of our efforts to help the institution of 
the Congress respond to domestic and international challenges. These 
efforts include current and emerging challenges to the well-being and 
financial security of the American people; responding to changing 
security threats and the challenges of global interdependence; helping 
transform the federal government to address national challenges; and 
maximizing the value of GAO by enabling quality, timely service to the 
Congress and being a leading practices federal agency. 

GAO’s work enhances accountability and can help build confidence in 
the ability of the federal government to serve its citizens. GAO’s 
audit and evaluation capacity supports the Congress through original 
research and analysis of complex government programs. As government 
and society experience a period of transformation, we will continue to 
advise the Congress and heads of executive branch agencies about ways 
to make the government more efficient, effective, equitable, and 

The transformative trends outlined in our strategic plan to serve the 
Congress are also relevant to how GAO approaches its own work and 
manages its internal operations. GAO has undertaken a business process 
re-engineering initiative to streamline our engagement process and 
make our reports more compatible with electronic distribution. To 
improve the ability of the Congress, federal agencies, and the public 
to access our work, GAO has expanded distribution by leveraging mobile 
technology, multimedia content, and social media. To extend our 
resources further and maintain a broad perspective on issues affecting 
our profession, GAO continues to strengthen its collaborative networks 
with the federal, state, and local audit and accountability community, 
as well as with our counterparts internationally and with academia. 

The nation faces formidable challenges to meet the complex demands on 
the federal government, sustain economic recovery, and address the 
long-term fiscal outlook. GAO’s Strategic Plan 2010-2015 provides the 
framework to respond effectively to the needs of the Congress as it 
seeks to address these interlinked challenges. The slight adjustments 
we are making with this update in response to the Modernization Act, 
as well as the specific work we plan to pursue, will help GAO 
contribute to informed debate and workable solutions. We will continue 
to conduct outreach with the Congress to ensure both our strategic 
plan and our work remain responsive to any changes in external factors 
and congressional priorities. 

Signed by: 

Gene L. Dodaro: 
Comptroller General of the United States: 

[End of section] 



The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, or GPRA,[Footnote 
3] was amended with the enactment in 2011 of the GPRA Modernization 
Act of 2010 (the Modernization Act).[Footnote 4] This act offers 
opportunities to focus sustained attention on improving the efficiency 
and effectiveness of federal programs and operations. The federal 
government, with an estimated $3.8 trillion in outlays in fiscal 2012, 
is one of the world’s largest and most complex entities. As we have 
previously reported, the Modernization Act can help address government 
challenges by: 

* instituting a more coordinated and cross-cutting approach to 
achieving results, 

* focusing on addressing weaknesses in major management functions, 

* ensuring performance information is both useful and used, 

* sustaining leadership commitment and accountability, and, 

* engaging the Congress in identifying management and performance 
issues to address.[Footnote 5] 

GAO has been given a role in reviewing implementation of the act at 
several junctures, including a report due by June 2013 on initial 
implementation of the act’s planning and reporting requirements at 
both the governmentwide and agency levels.[Footnote 6] GAO is also 
issuing several products to support the Congress’s role in influencing 
and providing oversight of executive branch results.[Footnote 7] 

Further, the Modernization Act requires the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) and agencies to develop governmentwide priority goals, 
including goals focusing on improvements to five key management 
functions: financial, human capital, information technology, 
procurement and acquisition, and real property management. GAO’s work 
has highlighted opportunities for improvements in each of these areas 
and aspects of several of them are on the GAO high-risk list due to 
their vulnerability to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement or the 
need for broad-based transformation. GAO will be updating GAO’s high-
risk website in 2012 to reflect our most recent work related to these 
management areas, as well as leading practices for collaboration, 
strategic planning, and organizational transformation. 

Modernization Act-Related Changes for GAO’s Strategic Planning and 
Performance Reporting Process: 

Although we are not subject to the requirements of the Modernization 
Act, we intend to implement the spirit of the law as a matter of 
policy. Among its requirements, the Modernization Act makes both 
process and content changes for agency strategic plans. In terms of 
process, the strategic planning cycle has changed. Previously, GPRA 
called for agencies to update plans at least every 3 years and to 
cover at least a 5-year period. Now, agency plans are to be issued 
every 4 years and to cover at least a 4-year period. Further, agencies 
are to consult with the Congress every 2 years about the plan. The 
Modernization Act also calls for agencies to prepare an interim 
strategic plan update in February 2012 to make their plans consistent 
with the requirements of the act. 

GAO will change its strategic planning cycle to that required by the 
Modernization Act and associated OMB Guidance; GAO is moving from a 3-
year to a 4-year cycle. The current GAO Strategic Plan 2010-2015 will 
remain in effect through the next plan’s issuance in February 2014. We 
have reviewed our existing strategic plan, and we broadly follow the 
Modernization Act’s requirements for strategic plan content, with 
minor adjustments appropriate to our context as a legislative branch 

GAO is making other changes to its strategic planning and performance 
and accountability process to conform to the Modernization Act’s 
requirements and implementing guidance.[Footnote 8] We have identified 
financial and nonfinancial benefits as our priority measures and 
developed a new presentation of nonfinancial benefits to provide 
readers with more information on the program and operational areas in 
which these benefits are achieved. These areas include public 
insurance and benefits; public safety and security; acquisition and 
contract management; tax administration; program efficiency and 
effectiveness; and business processes and management. We also updated 
our website on strategic planning, performance, and accountability to 
include data on our priority performance measures.[Footnote 9] 
Further, the Comptroller General designated the Chief Operating 
Officer as the Performance Improvement Officer for mission areas and 
the Chief Administrative Officer/Chief Financial Officer as the 
Performance Improvement Officer for internal operations. 

Overview of GAO’s Strategic Plan for Serving the Congress: 

Strategic Objectives and Planned Work: 

As seen through our Strategic Goals and Objectives (table 1), GAO 
seeks not only to help position the government to better manage risks 
that could compromise the nation’s security, health, and solvency, but 
also to identify opportunities for managing government programs and 
resources wisely for a more sustainable future. We reviewed the extent 
to which there had been major developments that significantly affected 
the focus of our work or that would require a change in our strategic 
objectives or performance goals. We found that our plan’s strategic 
objectives and performance goals still reflect our likely work for the 
Congress. However, we are making minor adjustments to one strategic 
objective and two performance goals, as explained in the next section 
(see page 11). 

Table 1: GAO’s Strategic Goals and Objectives for 2010-2015 

Goal 1: Help the Congress Address Current and Emerging Challenges to 
the Well-Being and Financial Security of the American People: 

1.1: Financing and Programs to Serve the Health Needs of an Aging and 
Diverse Population; 

1.2: Lifelong Learning to Enhance U.S. Competitiveness; 

1.3: Benefits and Protections for Workers, Families, and Children; 

1.4: Financial Security for an Aging Population; 

1.5: A Responsive, Fair, and Effective System of Justice; 

1.6: Viable Communities; 

1.7: A Stable Financial System and Consumer Protection; 

1.8: Responsible Stewardship of Natural Resources and the Environment; 

1.9: A Viable, Efficient, Safe, and Accessible National Infrastructure. 

Goal 2: Help the Congress Respond to Changing Security Threats and the 
Challenges of Global Interdependence: 

2.1: Protect and Secure the Homeland from Threats and Disasters; 

2.2: Ensure Military Capabilities and Readiness; 

2.3: Advance and Protect U.S. Foreign Policy Interests; 

2.4: Respond to the Impact of Global Market Forces on U.S. Economic 
and Security Interests. 

Goal 3: Help Transform the Federal Government to Address National 

3.1: Analyze the Government’s Fiscal Position and Opportunities to 
Strengthen Approaches to Address the Current and Projected Fiscal Gap; 

3.2: Improve Financial Management and Internal Controls to Prevent 
Fraud, Waste and Abuse; 

3.3: Support Congressional Oversight of Major Management Challenges 
and Program Risks. 

Goal 4: Maximize the Value of GAO by Enabling Quality, Timely Service 
to the Congress and by Being a Leading Practices Federal Agency: 

4.1: Improve Efficiency and Effectiveness in Performing GAO’s Mission 
and Delivering Quality Products and Services to the Congress and the 
American People; 

4.2: Maintain and Enhance a Diverse Workforce and Inclusive Work 
Environment Through Strengthened Recruiting, Retention Development, 
and Reward Programs; 

4.3: Expand Networks, Collaborations, and Partnerships That Promote 
Professional Standards and Enhance GAO’s Knowledge, Agility, and 
Response Time; 

4.4: Be a Responsible Steward of GAO’s Human, Information, Fiscal, 
Technological, and Physical Resources. 

Source: GAO Strategic Plan 2010-2015. 

[End of table] 

As detailed in the GAO 2010-2015 strategic plan, our strategic goals 
and objectives reflect the wide array of national and international 
issues that we cover in our mission to support the Congress and, in 
the case of goal 4, our efforts to ensure our internal operations 
support that mission efficiently and effectively. GAO serves all 
standing congressional committees and about 70 percent of 
subcommittees. GAO issues hundreds of products annually in response to 
congressional requests and mandates. Our 2010-2015 strategic plan 
addressed mandates to do major bodies of work in several areas. While 
other legislation with GAO mandates has been enacted since GAO’s 2010-
2015 strategic plan was issued, this work generally aligns with our 
existing strategic objectives and performance goals. The scope of our 
work is broad-based, which allows us to respond to requests from the 
Congress that cover the full range of issues of interest to our 
clients. Table 2 provides examples of the work GAO plans to conduct 
for the Congress under these strategic goals in fiscal years 2012 and 

Table 2: Examples of GAO’s Planned Work by Strategic Goal: 

Examples of Planned Work under Goal 1: 

* Evaluate efforts to address improper payments in Medicare and 

* Assess challenges to ensuring the public’s health, such as 
addressing shortages of pharmaceuticals. 

* Assess implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care 

* Assess the health care provided to veterans and military families 

* Assess the condition of public pension funding. 

* Evaluate the recession’s impact on older workers’ employment and 

* Identify challenges in veterans’ employment and training. 

* Regularly report on GAO’s findings from oversight of the Troubled 
Asset Relief Program (TARP). 

* Conduct studies required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act on 
topics such as investor protection, Securities and Exchange Commission 
operations, and other reforms. 

* Evaluate consumer protections for financial services and products. 

* Assess federal efforts to mitigate foreclosures. 

* Evaluate management of rental housing assistance programs. 

* Review federal efforts to develop renewable energy and energy-
efficient technologies. 

* Assess Environmental Protection Agency efforts to restore and 
maintain the nation’s waters and ensure compliance with clean air 

* Assess implementation of the Sex Offender Registration and 
Notification Act. 

* Review federal efforts to counter domestic methamphetamine 

* Assess U.S. Postal Service plans for restructuring to address its 
financial outlook and condition. 

* Review federal efforts to promote affordable, effective 
telecommunications services. 

* Assess alternative methods for financing federal surface 
transportation infrastructure. 

Examples of Planned Work under Goal 2: 

* Assess the soundness and efficiency of the Department of Defense’s 
(DOD) highest-cost weapon acquisition programs. 

* Evaluate the effect of recent weapon system acquisition reforms and 
policy changes. 

* Assess logistics and contractor support for the drawdown in 

* Monitor the transition from a military-led to a civilian-led 
presence in postconflict areas. 

* Assess the implications of proposed adjustments in strategy and 
force structure for readiness (training, equipping, and staffing), 
costs and funding, and DOD’s overseas presence 

* Assess DOD’s rationale for budget cuts. 

* Analyze military health care costs. 

* Assess the economy and efficiency of the State Department, USAID and 
the foreign operations of other U.S. government agencies, as well as 
multilateral organizations and non-governmental actors receiving U.S. 
support to deliver humanitarian and development assistance. 

* Evaluate governmentwide and agency-specific information security 
efforts and programs, as well as national cyber critical 
infrastructure protection. 

* Assess the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to 
integrate and transform its management functions. 

* Assess federal efforts to share and leverage intelligence and law 
enforcement information to strengthen homeland security 

* Evaluate the implementation of the federal Disaster Declaration 

* Assess efforts to strengthen automated targeting of high-risk cargo 
transported by sea. 

* Assess DHS’s efforts to enhance the resiliency of critical national 
assets, networks, and systems. 

* Review the coordination of federal strategies, resources, and 
results for enforcing U.S. immigration laws. 

* Assess lessons learned from DOD’s 2005 Base Closure and Realignment 

* Evaluate coordination among U.S. government agencies that provide 
export promotion services to small businesses. 

Examples of Planned Work under Goal 3: 

* Review DOD financial management improvement efforts. 

* Assess federal agencies’ reliance on contractors and their ability 
to provide effective oversight. 

* Identify ways to improve NASA’s acquisition of major space flight 

* Identify critical skills gaps and related human capital issues in 
agencies and across the federal government. 

* Identify actions needed to reduce duplication, overlap, and 
fragmentation; achieve cost savings; and enhance revenues for the 
federal government. 

* Conduct annual financial audits of the Consumer Financial Protection 
Bureau, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Housing Finance 
Agency, Internal Revenue Service, Securities and Exchange Commission, 
TARP, and the Bureau of the Public Debt, as well as a consolidated 
financial audit of the federal government. 

* Assess the implementation of the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010. 

* Conduct audits of federal internal controls needed to ensure 
accountability over resources and payments, including improper payment 

* Assess Department of Energy’s priorities for scientific investment. 

* Review federal management and effectiveness in carrying out IT 
acquisition, development, and integration efforts. 

* Monitor and update GAO’s high-risk list of programs vulnerable to 
waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. 

* Evaluate government efforts to reduce the gap between taxes owed and 
taxes collected. 

* Review issues related to financing the federal government’s growing 

* Conduct bimonthly reviews of how recipients such as state-level 
agencies use the Recovery Act’s funds. 

* Continue work on technology assessments, as deemed necessary by the 
Congress, potentially including homeland security, information 
technology, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and hypersonic aviation. 

Examples of Planned Work under Goal 4: 

* Complete an end-to-end analysis of our engagement process and 
implement actions to significantly improve efficiency while 
maintaining quality. 

* Improve staff utilization to enhance our agility and responsiveness. 

* Pursue alternative methods for communicating the results of our work 
to significantly improve our ability to quickly provide important 
content in easy-to-use formats. 

* Continue to pursue operational efficiencies in administrative 
support areas. 

* Conduct a pilot of expanded telework, explore office sharing, and 
examine ways to reduce infrastructure costs and enhance employee 

Source: GAO. 

[End of table] 

As identified in our 2010-2015 strategic plan, the cross-cutting 
trends likely to affect the federal government and GAO’s work are 
still relevant to the work we expect to do during this planning 
period. For example, in our 2010-2015 strategic plan, issued in July 
2010, we had noted the urgency surrounding the nation’s debt and long-
term fiscal challenges, as well as the challenges associated with 
recovery from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression 
in an environment of high joblessness and weak housing and commercial 
real estate markets. Concerns about Europe’s sovereign debt and 
possible spillover effects were also growing. Rising poverty had 
joined with aging to test our nation’s social safety net. 

A scan of developments since that time shows these challenges persist. 
Notably, passage of the Budget Control Act of 2011[Footnote 10] has 
improved the nation’s fiscal outlook by enacting measures that the 
Congressional Budget Office has estimated will reduce the deficit by 
$2.1 trillion over the period of fiscal years 2012 to 2021. But even 
with the act, 
GAO’s simulations show that reaching a sustainable path over the long 
term will require steps to address the major drivers of the federal 
budget—an aging population, rising health care costs, and revenues. 
Further, GAO’s report on the 10th anniversary of September 11 found 
real progress in protecting the country from terrorist attacks. Yet we 
found that shortcomings persist in border security and visa overstays, 
airline screening, and emergency preparedness. GAO’s work also evolved 
to reflect changing societal and technological trends. For example, 
our recent report on distance education recommended improvements in 
the Department of Education’s data collection and oversight to better 
assure academic quality over the growing number of programs serving 
diverse student populations.[Footnote 11] 

Adjustments to Certain Strategic Objectives: 

Our 2010-2015 strategic plan notes that as the Congress focuses on 
known challenges facing the nation and responds to unforeseen events, 
the mix of work we are asked to undertake may change, necessitating 
that we adjust our priorities as appropriate or focus or modify the 
resources allocated for some strategic objectives and performance 

Minor Changes to GAO’s Strategic Objectives for Health Care and 
Financial Management: 

Health care is a major driver of the federal budget and an important 
concern for all Americans. Our 2010-2015 strategic plan factored in 
the prospect of passage of far-reaching reform that included mandates 
for GAO, but the focus of our planned work has become clearer based on 
ongoing consultations with the Congress as well as experience with 
enacted law. As a result, we made some slight changes to several 
performance goals under Strategic Objective 1.1, Financing and 
Programs to Serve the Health Needs of an Aging and Diverse Population, 
to more fully reflect our efforts on Medicare and Medicaid. 

We are also retitling Strategic Objective 3.2 to Improve Financial 
Management and Internal Controls to Prevent Fraud, Waste, and Abuse. 
This better reflects the full spectrum of work being done for the 
Congress under that objective, notably GAO’s sustained efforts 
directed at establishing a sound foundation for federal financial 
management, including in such high-risk areas as defense financial 
management. Our work includes audits directed at improving federal 
accountability for assets and operations and identifying 
governmentwide opportunities to improve controls to prevent improper 
payments and deter fraud, waste, and abuse. 

New Developments Affect the Emphasis of GAO’s Work on Health Care: 

We will continue to contribute to congressional oversight of 
implementation of health insurance reforms included in the Patient 
Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), as amended, through work 
on health insurance and aspects of the Medicaid program significant to 
its expansion. In fiscal year 2011, GAO contributed 20 products in 
this area. More work is continuing this year, and includes: 

* the transition from the health coverage tax credit to PPACA premium 

* estimates of the number of adults with pre-existing conditions, and 

* employers’ anticipated responses to PPACA. 

GAO is also reviewing: 

* access to care for Medicaid recipients, 

* states’ efforts to implement the Medicaid expansions under PPACA, 

* children’s access to health insurance coverage under PPACA, 

* states’ plans to implement PPACA options for increasing home and 
community-based services in Medicaid, and, 

* Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and state efforts to 
reduce improper payments in the Medicaid program. 

Health care-related work is continuing on other high-priority issues, 
such as implementation of strategies to help address improper payments 
in the Medicare program and efforts to improve quality of care, such 
as our just-issued products on shortages of medicine.[Footnote 12] Our 
work has intensified under Performance Goal 1.1.6, Assessing Actions 
and Options for Improving Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and DOD 
Health Care Services. With more servicemembers transitioning to VA 
with the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there will 
likely be more demand on VA, which could affect access. As a result, 
we have done work to help ensure that VA’s budget planning is adequate 
for the growing care needs, as well as examined health care for women 
servicemembers and veterans. Coordination of care for servicemembers 
leaving active duty is also a concern. A current GAO engagement is 
evaluating the transition of servicemembers from DOD to VA in terms of 
drug needs—-in particular, psychiatric and pain medications. 

New Developments Affect the Emphasis of GAO’s Work on Natural 
Resources and Defense 

New developments since our issuance of our strategic plan are also 
having an impact on the particular engagements GAO is being asked by 
the Congress to conduct. For example, in connection with our Strategic 
Objective 1.8, Responsible Stewardship of Natural Resources and the 
Environment, work has increased in: 

* federal oversight of offshore oil and gas operations and oil spill 
prevention and response, as a result of the Macondo oil spill in 2010; 

* nuclear reactor and nuclear fuel safety and security, as a result of 
the 2011 tsunami in Japan; 

* environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing, as a result of 
concerns about increased oil and gas development; 

* environmental regulatory issues, as a result of the national debate 
around the impact of regulation on jobs; 

* flood control, as a result of serious floods in the Midwest during 
2011; and; 

* agricultural spending, particularly in the area of farm subsidies, 
as a result of national interest in budgetary savings. 

The focus of our planned work on defense may also somewhat shift going 
forward. Our plan for defense-related work already reflected budgetary 
pressures on the military, issues associated with reducing the U.S. 
presence in Afghanistan, and efforts to counter Iran and North Korea’s 
nuclear ambitions, as well as emerging concerns over security of 
supplies and natural resources in the face of widespread outsourcing 
and competition with China. However, our ongoing consultations with 
the Congress suggest that the administration’s new strategic guidance 
may change the focus of that work. Issued in January 2012, the 
guidance states that the United States will continue to meet its 
global responsibilities, but in a manner more aligned with current and 
emergent requirements and constrained budgets. The administration 
proposes rebalancing U.S. global priorities toward the Asia-Pacific 
region; reducing “protracted, large scale operations”; and reducing 
infrastructure by seeking congressional authority to begin another 
base-closure process. Although the full impact of budgetary pressures 
on defense is unknown, our work will likely increasingly focus on how 
DOD plans to achieve greater efficiencies in its operations and 
balance planned investments in personnel, weapon systems, and training. 

Actions GAO Has Taken to Constrain Costs and Improve Efficiency: 

Our 2010-2015 strategic plan also noted that several external factors 
could affect the achievement of our performance goals, including the 
resources we receive. Since fiscal year 2010, GAO has significantly 
reduced spending throughout the agency. Our fiscal year 2012 
appropriation is $45 million, or 8.1 percent, below fiscal year 2010. 
We streamlined costs and are operating at a reduced level through 
staffing reductions, voluntary retirements, voluntary separation 
incentives, and extremely limited hiring to only replace critical 
vacancies; reducing staff retention programs, such as student loan 
repayments and incentive awards; and reducing or deferring operational 
costs and investments in information technology (IT), facilities, and 
other support services. Since fiscal year 2010, we have reduced 
engagement support costs, such as travel and external specialized 
expertise, by over 20 percent and reduced infrastructure support 
costs, such as IT and administrative support services, by over 18 

In addition, we are continuing to explore other opportunities to 
enhance workforce and budget flexibilities to help reduce our 
infrastructure costs, provide staff more flexibility and increase our 
effectiveness and efficiency, such as streamlining our engagement-
management process; expanding our telework policies; reducing our 
physical footprint both in headquarters and in our field offices; 
exploring office-sharing; expanding our video-conference capability; 
and attracting an additional tenant in GAO’s headquarters building to 
increase revenue. 

GAO updated the management challenges facing the agency to include a 
new challenge related to improving efficiency in its mission work. 
This intensifies and expands on some of the efforts already included 
in the GAO Strategic Plan 2010-2015 and involves such steps as 

* an end-to-end analysis of our engagement management process to 
identify ways to improve efficiency while maintaining adherence to 
essential quality standards; 

* better capitalizing on our employees’ flexibility and agility when 
assigning work, such as through multitasking of staff across multiple 
engagements and enlisting expertise where needed; and 

* building on GAO’s progress in tailoring and presenting information 
to be more web-friendly, repurposing valuable content in existing 
reports, and leveraging in-house expertise to inform decision making 
on key issues.[Footnote 13] 

GAO is continuing its effort to network with federal, state, and local 
officials with similar or complementary missions to enhance GAO’s 
knowledge, agility, and response time. These collaborations have been 
instrumental in facilitating GAO’s audit work, creating efficiencies, 
avoiding duplication of effort, and sharing best practices. 

We are also consulting continuously with congressional committees to 
assure that our work is focused on their highest priorities. 
Additionally, we continue to work with committees to amend or repeal 
statutory mandates for GAO studies that have outlived their usefulness 
or do not represent the best use of GAO’s resources given current 
congressional priorities. 

GAO’s Strategic Plan Helps GAO Respond to a Dynamic Environment: 

Fiscal year 2011 was an active and challenging time for GAO. We 
succeeded at performing our mission, responding to mandates, and 
accomplishing many of our goals while managing budget constraints. 
Fiscal years 2012 and 2013 bring more challenges with responsibilities 
to further assess and report on government programs and financial 
regulatory reform efforts, among many other pressing issues. GAO will 
continue to place a priority on providing quality products in a timely 
fashion that identify opportunities for eliminating waste and 
enhancing revenue across the federal government. 

The current and emerging challenges facing the federal government and 
the seriousness of its fiscal outlook will require close attention in 
the coming years. GAO’s Strategic Plan for 2010-2015 provides a 
framework to help understand and address these challenges. The slight 
adjustments to our planning cycle and strategic objectives we are 
making with this update, as well as the specific work we plan to 
pursue, will help GAO continue to be prepared to serve the Congress 
today and in the future. 

[End of section] 


[1] Pub. L. No. 111-352, 124 Stat. 3866 (Jan 4, 2011). The 
Modernization Act amends the Government Performance and Results Act of 
1993 (GPRA), Pub. L. No. 103-62, 107 Stat. 285 (Aug. 3, 1993). 

[2] GAO Strategic Plan: Serving the Congress and the Nation 2010-2015, 
[hyperlink,] (Washington, 
D.C.: July 1, 2010). 

[3] Pub. L. No. 103-62, 107 Stat. 285 (Aug. 3, 1993). 

[4] Pub. L. No. 111-352, 124 Stat. 3866 (Jan. 4, 2011). 

[5] GAO, Managing for Results: GPRA Modernization Act Implementation 
Provides Important Opportunities to Address Government Challenges, 
[hyperlink,] (Washington, 
D.C.: May 10, 2011). 

[6] [hyperlink,], p.16. 

[7] GAO, Managing for Results: Opportunities for Congress to Address 
Government Performance Issues, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 9, 

[8] GAO will also extend the period for evaluating performance versus 
GAO’s strategic objectives and performance goals from 3 years to 4 
years-—i.e., through fiscal year 2013 (vs. fiscal year 2012). 

[9] See [hyperlink,]. 

[10] Pub. L. No. 112-25, 125 Stat. 240 (Aug. 2, 2011). 

[11] GAO, Higher Education: Use of New Data Could Help Improve 
Oversight of Distance Education, GAO-12-39 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 17, 

[12] See [hyperlink,] and 

[13] GAO, Fiscal 2011 Performance and Accountability Report, 
[hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C., 
Nov. 15, 2011), 60-61.