GAO is required to audit the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government. Because of the significance of the federal debt held by the public to the governmentwide financial statements, GAO audits the Bureau of the Public Debt's (BPD) Schedules of Federal Debt annually. The audit of these schedules is done to determine whether, in all material respects, (1) the schedules are reliable and (2) BPD management maintained effective internal control over financial reporting relevant to the Schedule of Federal Debt. Further, GAO tests compliance with a significant provision of law related to the Schedule of Federal Debt (statutory debt limit). Federal debt managed by BPD consists of Treasury securities held by the public and by certain federal government accounts, referred to as intragovernmental debt holdings. The level of debt held by the public primarily reflects how much of the nation's wealth has been absorbed by the federal government to finance prior federal spending in excess of federal revenues. Intragovernmental debt holdings represent balances of Treasury securities held by federal government accounts, primarily federal trust funds such as Social Security, that typically have an obligation to invest their excess annual receipts over disbursements in federal securities.
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