Potential Candidates for Congressional Oversight

OCG-00-3R: Published: Nov 1, 1999. Publicly Released: Nov 1, 1999.

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Paul L. Posner
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided a list of federal government programs, activities, and facilities for review by a series of bipartisan congressional task forces for possible termination, reduction, deferral, or reform.

GAO noted that: (1) GAO was asked to identify oversight themes suggested by those candidates that could serve as the basis for congress' prospective bipartisan task forces; (2) the candidates reflect the need to reconsider what government does, how it does it, and who benefits from such government activities; (3) reassessing what the federal government does addresses the basic purpose(s) and objective(s) of any federal entity or program; (4) GAO identified federal activities where conditions originally prompting the activity's establishment have changed or where the cost/benefit of the program is questionable; (5) Congress originally defines the intended beneficiaries for any federal program or service based on certain perceptions of eligibility or need; (6) periodic oversight can be an effective means to ensure that limited resources remain properly targeted, in light of changing conditions, available resources, program operations, and overall congressional priorities; (7) many of GAO's options identify inefficient federal operations stemming from such problems as costly fragmentation and possible duplication in missions, facilities and programs, or the failure to weed out excessive administrative structures and costs; (8) in many cases, civilian agencies' physical locations and delivery structures have remained unchanged for decades, notwithstanding recent downsizing in most agencies, advances in communications and information processing technologies, and changes in the intended recipients of federal programs and activities; (9) the narratives GAO provided for each candidate include references to related GAO reports and testimonies and a principal GAO contact for each suggested candidate; (10) the narratives are intended to provide: (a) a clear and concise description of underlying concerns and challenges, which are more fully developed in the key findings of referenced GAO reports and testimonies; and (b) one possible approach, within a budgetary context, to address these concerns; and (11) GAO has focused on specific programs, projects, activities, or facilities and have not addressed governmentwide concerns.

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