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From Preparing for Biological Incidents, to Global and Domestic Threats, to Science and Tech in an Innovation Economy, GAO Focuses on a Dozen Trends Shaping Government

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 15, 2022)—The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) today issued a dozen trend papers outlining critical challenges facing our nation, all part of the non-partisan, fact-based agency’s new Strategic Plan for Serving the Congress and the Nation. The new plan will guide the congressional watchdog’s future efforts from 2022 to 2027, as GAO helps lawmakers oversee federal operations and address some of the most important national issues facing government and society as a whole.

“Our latest plan outlines a number of key trends, domestic and international, with significant implications for the well-being of the American people,” said Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO. “These trends include science and technology innovation and challenges in the U.S. economy, the impact of global supply chains, racial and ethnic disparities, and global and domestic security threats in an increasingly digital world,” Dodaro added. “Our hope is that greater awareness of these trends will spur the nation’s leaders to better understand the challenges facing the federal government."

Tackling these trends will be critical to ensuring the federal government is prepared for the future, said Dodaro.  “For 100 years, GAO has been at the forefront of efforts to improve government performance, striving to help make programs more efficient and effective.  In addition, today’s policymakers need forward-looking information to help them deal with evolving challenges, before they become crises. To that end, GAO established a Center for Strategic Foresight and publishes a strategic plan every four years to help prioritize its audit work and better prepare our government for future uncertainties, as well as future opportunities.”

GAO’s strategic plan presents 12 trends with national significance.  Some, such as the federal government’s unsustainable long-term fiscal path, have been of concern for a number of years, while others have emerged or intensified more recently. The trends are:

  • National security:  Global and Domestic threats
  • Fiscal Sustainability and Debt
  • Preparing for Catastrophic Biological Incidents
  • Racial and Ethnic Disparities
  • Science, Technology, and the Innovation Economy
  • Security Implications for an Increasingly Digital World
  • Changes to How and Where We Work
  • Future of Global Supply Chains
  • Online Learning and Technology in Education
  • Evolving Health Technologies
  • Sustainable Development
  • Evolving Space Environment

GAO undertook extensive research to develop these trends, leveraging its own internal experts as well as consulting with experts inside and outside the federal government.  The agency expects to update its trends and identify other emerging issues in the coming years to reflect new developments.

GAO’s plan consists of two other components separate from the trend areas:

  • GAO’s Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives form the foundation of the agency’s plan and lay out its long-term strategies to accomplish its goals.
  • The plan’s Key Efforts detail the agency’s near-term priorities to provide Congress with timely and fact-based analysis of the most important issues facing the nation.

The Strategic Plan is available on GAO’s website at For more information, contact Chuck Young, Managing Director of Public Affairs, at (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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