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This is GAO’s summary of the Performance and Accountability Report for fiscal year 2011. The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of the Congress, exists to support the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people. GAO examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help the Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions.

To fulfill our mission, we organize and manage our resources to support four broad strategic goals. These include helping to address challenges to the well-being and financial security of the American people, responding to changing security threats and global interdependence, and transforming the federal government to address national challenges. Strategic goal 4 is an internal goal focused on enhancing GAO’s value through improving its efficiency, effectiveness, and quality, and institutional stewardship and resource management.

GAO maintains a workforce of highly trained professionals across a breadth of academic and scientific disciplines. In fiscal year 2011, about three-quarters of the approximately 3,200 employees were based at GAO headquarters in Washington, D.C.; the rest were deployed in 11 field offices across the country.

In fiscal year 2011, we met or exceeded 13 of our 15 annual performance targets by, for example, identifying $45.7 billion in financial benefits for the federal government—a return of $81 for every dollar we spent—and 1,318 improvements in broad program and operational areas across the government. The rate at which our recommendations were implemented by federal agencies or the Congress was 80 percent, and over two-thirds of the products issued contained recommendations. We did not meet our testimony target but testified at 174 hearings before the Congress on topics across our body of work, a third of which were on areas considered at high risk for fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. For people measures, we met or exceeded all but our new hire rate.

In fiscal year 2011, we continued to address three management challenges—physical security, information security, and human capital. For example, we made significant progress on design of a new performance management system. For fiscal year 2012, we have removed physical and information security based on progress in those areas, identified several high-priority actions in the human capital area, and identified a new challenge related to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our engagements.

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