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GAO Higher Education Director Named Finalist for Service to America Medal

WASHINGTON (May 8, 2023). Today, Melissa Emrey-Arras, Director with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), was named a finalist for the 2023 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals. The “Sammies,” run by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, are the premier awards program honoring excellence and innovation in federal service. Selected from more than 350 impressive nominations, Ms. Emrey-Arras has been named Volker Career Achievement Award finalist for her extensive work examining federal student aid and student loan forgiveness programs, leading to significant improvements in effectiveness and efficiency of those programs.

Ms. Emrey-Arras has dedicated her career to holding the federal government accountable to the American people. In her 21 years with GAO, she has been a crusader against fraud in higher education. Her innovative work has uncovered significant weaknesses in the Department of Education’s oversight of federal student aid and has been instrumental in helping the government safeguard taxpayer funds. Melissa’s thorough reporting has prompted both Congress and the Department of Education to improve higher education programs, saved billions of dollars for the federal government, and improved access for a broad range of students to attend college.

“Melissa’s expansive body of work has made a significant difference for any prospective student or family in America that experience concerns about how they’re going to navigate college tuition and financial aid”, said Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO. “Melissa is a true public servant who works to improve the federal government and the lives of the American people. Her contributions have better positioned students and their families to fulfill their college aspirations.”

Since its inception in 2002, the Sammies have honored over 700 outstanding federal employees. Melissa Emrey-Arras is among 47 federal employees across 25 federal agencies honored as 2023 Sammies finalists for their outstanding contributions to safety, public health and sustainability across our nation and the world. Visit for more information on the awards and the 2023 finalists.

All finalists are eligible for the Service to America Medals People’s Choice Award, where the public can vote online and support Melissa’s work. Members of the public can vote starting on May 12.


The Government Accountability Office, known as the investigative arm of Congress, is an independent, nonpartisan agency that exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities. GAO also works to improve the performance of the federal government and ensure its accountability to the American people. The agency examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO provides Congress with timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonideological, fair, and balanced. GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and reliability.


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GAO Makes MACPAC Appointments, Designates Vice Chair


WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 1, 2023)—Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), today announced the appointment of six new members to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC). He also named the Commission’s Vice Chair.