Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Request: U.S. Government Accountability Office

GAO-09-699T: May 21, 2009

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In fiscal year 2008, GAO delivered advice and analyses to the Congress in response to requests from all of the standing committees of the House and the Senate, as well as over 80 percent of their subcommittees. The hard work of our staff yielded significant results across the government, including expert testimony at over 300 congressional hearings, hundreds of improvements in government operations, and billions in financial benefits. GAO submits for congressional consideration a request for a fiscal year 2010 appropriation of $567.5 million to support 3,250 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff. This request represents an increase of $36.5 million, or 6.9 percent, over our fiscal year 2009 funding level, which would support a 3.5 percent increase over our 2009 FTE level. Importantly, almost 70 percent of our requested increase is needed for mandatory pay and uncontrollable cost increases. While our fiscal year 2009 funding level allows us to make progress in responding to new congressional requests sooner, our fiscal year 2010 request would enable GAO to make greater progress in addressing the issues of greatest interest to the Congress and the American public during these challenging times, which is our highest priority. GAO is also requesting authority to use $15.2 million in offsetting collections, as detailed in our budget submission.

GAO is an invaluable resource for helping the Congress provide oversight, accountability, and transparency in government. The demand for GAO services continues to remain high as a direct result of the high quality of our work, and this high demand is an indication of the Congress's desire for timely and objective analyses and professional advice. In each of fiscal years 2007 and 2008, GAO received over 1,200 requests and mandates. The number of congressional mandates, our highest-priority work, more than doubled from fiscal year 2007 to 2008. In addition, as evidenced above, our work covers more and more complex issues across a broad range of federal programs, requiring more in-depth analysis to complete. High Congressional Demand for GAO Services This congressional demand for GAO studies also has affected our ability to respond promptly to congressional requests. For instance, in fiscal year 2008, GAO delayed starting work on 21 percent of our accepted requests due to staff unavailability. The average time we took to initiate congressionally requested engagements was almost 5 months in the first half of 2009, compared with less than 3 months in fiscal year 2005. In addition, GAO is providing testimony at an increased number of congressional hearings. We testified at 304 hearings in fiscal year 2008. This was the second highest number for GAO in the last 25 years. We expect to continue receiving a high volume of requests related to either the nation's new challenges, such as the recent developments in the financial markets and economy, or to the many emerging initiatives of the Congress and the administration. Moreover, all Senate committees are required to review programs within their jurisdiction to root out fraud, waste, and abuse in program spending--giving particular scrutiny to issues raised in GAO reports--and develop recommendations for improved government performance. Also, recent changes to House rules require each standing committee or subcommittee to hold at least one hearing on any issue raised by GAO that indicates that federal programs or operations authorized by that committee or subcommittee are at high risk for fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement. Our January 2009 issuance of the biennial, High-Risk Series: An Update, which identifies federal areas and programs at risk of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, as well as those in need of broad-based transformations, identified 30 at-risk federal programs. Issued to coincide with the start of each new Congress, our high-risk updates have continued to help to focus and sustain attention to these programs so that executive branch officials who are accountable for each program's performance, as well as members of the Congress, have the information needed to complete their oversight responsibilities. The high-risk update report is available on our Web site at