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GAO annually audits the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government (CFS). Congress and the President need reliable, useful, and timely financial and performance information to make sound decisions and conduct effective oversight of federal government programs and policies. The federal government began preparing the CFS 13 years ago. Over the years, certain material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting have prevented GAO from expressing an opinion on the accrual-based consolidated financial statements. Unless these weaknesses are adequately addressed, they will, among other things, continue to (1) hamper the federal government's ability to reliably report a significant portion of its assets, liabilities, costs, and other related information; and (2) affect the federal government's ability to reliably measure the full cost as well as the financial and nonfinancial performance of certain programs and activities. This testimony presents the results of GAO's audit of the CFS for fiscal year 2009 and discusses certain of the federal government's significant near- and long-term fiscal challenges.

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