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Student Loan Work Results in “Service to America” Medal for GAO Director

WASHINGTON D.C. (October 16, 2023) With a career improving federal student aid programs for generations of students and student loan borrowers, U.S. Government Accountability Office Director Melissa Emrey-Arras today won a 2023 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal. Ms. Emrey-Arras, who leads GAO’s extensive body of work examining higher education and federal student aid programs, has been named the Volker Career Achievement Award recipient.

In Melissa’s 21 years with GAO, her work has been instrumental in identifying significant problems with the management of federal student loans and loan forgiveness programs. As a result of her efforts, both Congress and the Department of Education have taken steps to significantly improve the effectiveness of these federal student aid programs. She has also been a fervent leader in helping vulnerable students—including homeless youth, student parents, and veterans—access much needed federal student aid to attend college. Her recent work focuses on ensuring colleges provide accurate cost information to prospective students after uncovering that 91% of colleges do not currently do so. Melissa’s thorough reporting has prompted Congress to consider legislation requiring colleges to provide more accurate cost information.

“On behalf of myself and everyone at the Government Accountability Office, I want to congratulate Melissa Emrey-Arras for winning the 2023 Paul A. Volker Career Achievement Award”, said Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO. “Her extensive body of work has helped countless students and borrowers, and she has led the way in urging colleges to be transparent with education costs.”

The Service to America Medals is the premier awards program recognizing innovation and leadership in federal service. Melissa Emrey-Arras was selected as one of six medalists from a diverse group of 27 finalists. The winners were chosen by a selection committee that included leaders from government, business, charitable organizations, academia, entertainment, and media. Ms. Emrey-Arras and her fellow medal recipients will be honored at an awards ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on October 17th, 2023.


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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Finding Federal Cybersecurity Weaknesses: GAO Issues New Cybersecurity Guide


WASHINGTON, D.C (September 28, 2023) – As the risks to IT systems supporting the federal government and the nation’s critical infrastructure increase and security threats continue to evolve, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) today issued a new guide for conducting cybersecurity performance audits.