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Government's Fiscal Path “Unsustainable”

Washington, D.C. (March 12, 2020) –The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) today published its fourth annual report on the nation’s fiscal health, offering a frank assessment of the federal government’s current fiscal condition and longer-term fiscal outlook.  

“Our latest fiscal health report provides an objective look at the fiscal challenges facing our country,” said Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO. “Interest on the debt is the fastest growing element of federal spending.  Absent change, it will overtake defense discretionary spending within 15 years and eventually dominate the budget. Health care is the other major driver of federal spending. In our view, policymakers need to undertake fundamental changes to both the revenue and spending sides of the budget to address the problem.”

“Debt that grows faster than the economy is unsustainable,” Dodaro observed. “We believe that Congress should develop a plan to put the government’s finances on a more responsible track, while ensuring that the United States is able to meet its security and social needs and retains the flexibility to deal with unforeseen events.” 

The new report—The Nation’s Fiscal Health: Action Is Needed to Address the Federal Government’s Fiscal Future—provides information on the government’s unsustainable fiscal path and its primary drivers, growing fiscal pressures that could further strain the federal budget, the importance of altering the government’s fiscal direction, and the need for a new approach to managing the debt. To help preserve the full faith and credit of the United States, GAO has urged Congress to consider the agency’s recommendations on managing federal debt and the debt limit.

The fiscal health report draws on Treasury’s recently issued fiscal year 2019 Financial Report; GAO’s audit of the government’s consolidated financial statements; the 2019 High Risk List; the 2019 annual report on fragmentation, overlap, and duplication; and related work. To learn more about America’s fiscal future, visit GAO’s website.

For more information, contact Chuck Young, Managing Director of GAO Public Affairs, at or 202-512-4800.


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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No Opinion from GAO on the U.S. Government's Annual Financial Statements


WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 27, 2020)—The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is unable to render an opinion on the federal government’s FY 2019 consolidated financial statements due to serious material weaknesses in financial reporting. These include financial management problems at the Department of Defense (DOD), the federal government’s inability to adequately account for transactions between agencies, and shortcomings in the process for putting together the consolidated financial statements.