This website is provided as a public service by the Government Accountability Office. Its documents and information are public information and may be freely distributed or copied.
We do not routinely collect personally identifiable information (PII) when you visit our website or our social media accounts (though information posted to third-party social media sites is not under our control). We do, however, collect personal information in several circumstances (described below). We also collect some technical information when you visit our site to help improve your user experience. All of this site's information is protected in accordance with GAO security policies.
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Information Collected and Stored
We automatically gather and store certain technical information about your visit to our website. This information is only collected for site management and statistical purposes. This information never identifies who you are and we do not track or record information about individuals or attempt to identify individual users or their usage patterns.
The information we collect and store about your visit includes:
The name of the domain from which you access the Internet
The date and time you access our site
The Internet address of the website from which you accessed our site or the Internet address of the computer used to link to our site
By collecting this data, we learn about the number of visitors to our site and the types of technology they use. We use this information to determine interest in various areas of the website and to monitor system performance. We will not gather PII about you when you visit our site unless you voluntarily choose to provide such information to us by e-mail or by completing an online form.
If You Send Us Personal Information
If you choose to provide your PII—for example, by filling out an e-mail form to subscribe to our publications mailing list—we may use that information to respond to your comment or to get you the information you have requested. Your PII is temporarily retained and then destroyed in accordance with guidelines from the National Archives and Records Administration. We will not release any PII, including e-mail addresses, to the public or to private organizations. We never create individual profiles or give such information to any private organizations. We never collect information for commercial marketing.
When you visit our website, small bits of text known as cookies are stored on your computer. We use both per-session and persistent cookies to make it easier for you to do things like comment on a report, complete a survey, or navigate our site. Cookies also help us gather information about how our site is used so that we can improve its performance.
Per-session cookies are stored in memory, are only available during an active browser session, and are erased as soon as you leave our site. Persistent cookies, which are not erased when you leave our site, anonymously track how you interact with our site (including where you came from and what you did during your visit). Neither our persistent nor our per-session cookies collect PII on users. All data collected is used only for the purposes described above, and is only accessible to GAO staff whose duties require it.
If you do not wish to have your visit information collected, you may opt-out by disabling cookies in your browser settings (instructions: https://www.acquisition.gov/cookies-opt-out). Doing so will still permit you to access our full website.
Site Security and Intrusion Detection
We use software to monitor web traffic and to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, cause harm, or otherwise damage our website. Unauthorized attempts to upload information or change information on this server are strictly prohibited. Unauthorized use, tampering with, or modifying this system—including supporting hardware or software—are subject to criminal and civil penalties. In the event of unauthorized intrusion, all relevant information regarding possible violations of the law may be provided to law enforcement officials.
We use social media tools to share mission-related information that has been collected and approved for public dissemination. Links or references to these third-party sites are provided solely for the convenience of the user, and do not constitute an endorsement by GAO. We do not own, manage, or control the applications used on these sites. Although some social media websites may request information at the time of registration, we do not routinely collect or retain any private information from our use of third-party social media sites or applications. In some cases, we may collect posted comments on these sites when necessary to determine whether and how to respond to a posted inquiry. To the extent that we collect or retain this information, it will be maintained in GAO's records management system (which has security control safeguards in place to protect it). We will retain comments or other information copied from these sites and applications only as long as data retention schedules require.
We encourage all users to read the privacy policies of the third-party sites and applications before registering or posting information. GAO disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from any comments posted on these sites and applications.
GAO uses Google/YouTube’s video player, which may install a persistent cookie on your computer or device. Consult YouTube's privacy policies for further information.
System of Records Notice
GAO is required to post a System of Records Notice if it maintains personnel records containing PII that are retrieved by a personal identifier. GAO’s Human Capital Management System of Personnel Records meets these criteria. The System of Records Notice for this system is published in the Federal Register.
We strive to be a model organization—one that is client and customer driven. In that spirit, we participate in an online customer satisfaction survey using the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The survey randomly selects a small proportion of visitors to our website and asks them a series of questions about their online experience. The survey will appear in a separate browser window and you may complete it after you leave our site. The results show how our site compares with other commercial and government websites and helps guide our efforts to improve our website. Thank you for taking the time to fill out the survey if it appears during your visit.
If you have questions, comments, or suggestions about the customer satisfaction survey, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.