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GAO Unable to Provide an Opinion on the U.S. Government’s Financial Statements

WASHINGTON (February 16, 2024) – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is again unable to determine if the federal government’s consolidated financial statements are reliable. This year’s audit report discusses progress that has been made, but also underscores that much work remains to improve federal financial management and highlights that the federal government continues to be on an unsustainable long-term fiscal path.

“Congress and the Administration need reliable and complete financial information, within each agency and across the government as a whole, to govern effectively and efficiently,” said Gene. L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO. “Also, the federal government continues to operate on an unsustainable fiscal path, jeopardizing the country’s long-term position to face domestic and international challenges. The creation of a long-term fiscal plan is needed to strengthen our readiness to confront any challenges that may occur.”

The difficulty in providing an opinion on the federal government’s fiscal year 2023 and 2022 financial statements is due to a number of issues. Longstanding financial management problems persist at the Department of Defense, accounting for transactions and balances between federal agencies continues to be inadequate, and weaknesses in the federal government’s process for preparing the consolidated financial statements remain. Additionally, the Small Business Administrations’ financial management deficiencies in their pandemic relief programs have continued, the Department of Education experienced problems with data used to estimate the costs of its loan programs, and improper payments totaling $236 billion were reported across several agencies and programs.

The Financial Report of the U.S. Government, which includes the consolidated financial statements and GAO’s audit report on the statements, provides a comprehensive view of government finances.

Today’s GAO work is directly related to the GAO report issued yesterday on the nation’s overall fiscal health, which again called for changes in the federal government’s spending and revenue policies. Both reports demonstrate the need for federal government to develop and implement plans to improve the long-term fiscal sustainability of the nation. 

Dodaro thanked the Inspector General community for their contributions to auditing the annual financial statements of their respective departments and agencies.

GAO's audit report on the U.S. government's consolidated financial statements is included in the 2023 Financial Report of the United States Government, which is prepared by Treasury in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget.


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.

Next Release:

The Nation’s Fiscal Health: Major Changes to Fiscal Policies Are Critical to Long-Term Fiscal Sustainability


WASHINGTON (February 15, 2024)— Warning the nation’s long term fiscal health faces mounting challenges, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) today issued its annual report on the nation’s fiscal future. The report describes the federal government’s unsustainable long-term fiscal path and calls on Congress to develop a plan to address the nation’s rapidly growing debt levels, review all current spending and revenue policies, and help pivot to a long-term sustainable fiscal path.