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This publication has been superseded by GAO-09-3SP, GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Developing and Managing Capital Program Costs, March 2009. From August 13, 2007 - July 14, 2008, GAO is seeking input and feedback on this Exposure Draft from all interested parties. See page 4 for more information. The U.S. Government Accountability Office is responsible for, among other things, assisting the Congress in its oversight of the federal government, including agencies' stewardship of public funds. To effectively use public funds, the government must meet the demands of today's changing world by employing effective management practices and processes, including the measurement of government program performance. Legislators, government officials, and the public want to know whether government programs are achieving their goals and what their costs are. We developed the Cost Guide in order to establish a consistent methodology, based on best practices, to be used across the federal government for developing and managing its program cost estimates. For the purposes of this guide, a cost estimate is the summation of individual cost elements, using established methods and valid data to estimate the future costs of a program, based on what is known today. The management of a cost estimate involves continually updating the estimate with actual data as they become available, revising the estimate to reflect changes, and analyzing differences between estimated and actual costs--for example, using data from a reliable earned value management (EVM) system.

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