Congressional Support Agencies:

The Role of the General Accounting Office

T-OPP-93-1: Published: Jun 10, 1993. Publicly Released: Jun 10, 1993.

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GAO discussed its role in assisting Congress in its legislative, oversight, and appropriations functions. GAO noted that: (1) its mission is to oversee the executive branch and ensure efficient government-wide management and accountability, prevent duplicative work among other support agencies, and alert Congress to potential problem areas; (2) recent operational improvements include increased prioritization of work, improved regional staff issue-area expertise, consolidated headquarters and field offices, increased use of emerging information resources technologies, increased internal examinations to improve efficiency and effectiveness, and improved standards for ensuring high-quality professional work; (3) actions taken to address objectivity concerns include reinforcing equal access policies to both the majority and minority parties, discontinuing assignments in which requesters wish to remain anonymous, supplying job starts listings to congressional leaders, reducing the number and length of detailees, allowing agencies to comment on controversial or significant reports and issues, and reducing the maximum report restriction period; and (4) changes in its relationship with Congress include controlling the quantity and mix of support agency work, downsizing GAO operations, increasing legislative branch effectiveness by modernizing automated data processing, communications, and facilities, an external review of GAO, and ensuring better executive branch oversight by holding annual oversight hearings.

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