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Federal Financial Accountability

GAO is required to report on the U.S. government’s consolidated financial statements, but three major impediments continue to prevent an audit opinion.

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The Secretary of the Treasury, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, annually prepares consolidated financial statements for the U.S. government for Congress and the administration to use in fiscal decision making. GAO has been required to audit the consolidated financial statements since 1997, but is also mandated to audit various other federal financial statements.

While federal financial management has improved since the federal government began preparing these statements, GAO has been unable to render an audit opinion on the government’s consolidated financial statements because of the following impediments:

  1. 1. serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense that have prevented its financial statements from being auditable;
  2. 2. the federal government's inability to adequately account for intragovernmental activity and balances between federal entities; and
  3. 3. the federal government's ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.

It is important to note that while almost all of the 24 largest federal entities received unmodified (“clean”) opinions on their most recent financial statements, the Department of Defense has consistently been unable to receive such an audit opinion on its financial statements.

U.S. Government’s Consolidated Financial Statements

Federal Entity Financial Statements

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  • portrait of Dawn Simpson
    • Dawn Simpson
    • Director, Financial Management and Assurance
    • (202) 512-9473
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    • Cheryl Clark
    • Director, Financial Management and Assurance
    • (202) 512-9377
  • portrait of Jim Dalkin
    • Jim Dalkin
    • Director, Financial Management and Assurance
    • (202) 512-3133