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Financial Literacy: The Federal Government's Role in Empowering Americans to Make Sound Financial Choices

GAO-11-504T Published: Apr 12, 2011. Publicly Released: Apr 12, 2011.
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Financial literacy plays an important role in helping ensure the financial health and stability of individuals, families, and our broader national economy. Economic changes in recent years have highlighted the need to empower Americans to make informed financial decisions, yet evidence indicates that many U.S. consumers could benefit from a better understanding of financial matters. For example, recent surveys indicate that many consumers have difficulty with basic financial concepts and do not budget. This testimony discusses (1) the state of the federal government's approach to financial literacy, (2) observations on overall strategies for addressing financial literacy, and (3) the role GAO can play in addressing and raising awareness on this issue. This testimony is based largely on prior and ongoing work, for which GAO conducted a literature review; interviewed representatives of organizations that address financial literacy within the federal, state, private, nonprofit, and academic sectors; and reviewed materials of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission. While this statement includes no new recommendations, in the past GAO has made a number of recommendations aimed at improving financial literacy efforts..

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