This testimony discusses the U.S. Government Accountability Office's (GAO) budget request for fiscal year 2011. This has put us in a better position to assist the Congress in confronting the many difficult challenges facing the nation. In fiscal year 2009, GAO supported Congressional decision making and oversight on a range of critical issues, including the government's efforts to help stabilize financial markets and address the most severe recession since World War II. In addition to providing oversight for the 2008 Economic Stabilization Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), we continued to provide the Congress updates on programs that are at high risk for waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement or are in need of broad reform, and delivered advice and analyses on a broad array of pressing domestic and international issues that demand urgent attention and continuing oversight. These include modernizing the regulatory structure for financial institutions and markets to meet 21st century demands; controlling escalating health care costs and providing more effective oversight of medical products; restructuring of the U.S. Postal Service to ensure its financial stability; and improving the Department of Defense's management approaches to issues ranging from weapons system acquisitions to accounting for weapons provided to Afghan security forces. Overall, we responded to requests from every standing committee of the House and the Senate and over 70 percent of their subcommittees. As a knowledge-based organization, our ability to timely assist the Congress as it addresses the nation's challenges depends on our ability to sustain our current staffing levels. We are submitting for your consideration a prudent request for $601 million for fiscal year 2011, which will allow us to maintain our capacity to assist the Congress in addressing a range of financial, social, economic, and security challenges going forward. This amount represents a 4.1 percent increase ($22.6 million) to maintain our fiscal year 2010 operating level, and a 3.8 percent increase ($21.6 million) to continue mandated Recovery Act oversight beyond the expiration of the funding we received to help offset the cost of this new responsibility. The total requested increase of 7.9 percent will allow us to continue the Recovery Act work, maintain our fiscal year 2010 staffing level, cover mandatory pay and uncontrollable cost increases, and reinvest savings from nonrecurring costs and efficiencies to further enhance our productivity and effectiveness.
With the strong support of the Congress and this subcommittee, in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 GAO increased our staff capacity. Our fiscal year 2011 budget request is prudent and essential to ensure that we can maintain this capacity and continue to provide timely, high-quality assistance to the Congress in confronting the critical economic, financial and security challenges facing the nation. We have a proven track record of helping the Congress evaluate critical issues of national importance and improving the transparency and accountability of government for the American people. For example, our work in the banking sector provided a framework that can be used to help reform the financial regulatory system and to evaluate proposals to ensure that any new regulatory system is sufficiently comprehensive, addresses risks, and adequately protects consumers. In the last 2 years our work yielded significant results across the government, including an average in each of the last 2 years of expert testimony at about 250 congressional hearings, almost 1,300 recommendations for improvements in government operations and changes to law, and $50 billion in financial benefits, resulting in a return on investment in fiscal year 2009 of $80 for every dollar the Congress invested in us.