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This is GAO's summary of the Performance and Accountability Report for fiscal year 2012.

Mission: 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. We examine the use of public funds; evaluate federal programs and policies; and provide analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help the Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions.

Organization and Strategic Focus: 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 our value through improving efficiency, effectiveness, and quality, and institutional stewardship and resource management.

Human Capital: We maintain a workforce of highly trained professionals across a breadth of disciplines. In fiscal year 2012, about 72 percent of our 2,960 employees were based at our headquarters in Washington, D.C.; the rest were deployed in 11 field offices across the country.

Accomplishments: In fiscal year 2012, we met or exceeded 13 of our 15 annual performance targets by, for example, identifying $55.8 billion in financial benefits for the federal government--a return of $105 for every dollar we spent--and 1,440 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 159 hearings before the Congress on topics across our body of work, over 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.

Challenges: In fiscal year 2012, we continued to address two management challenges--human capital and our new challenge to improve engagement efficiency. In the area of human capital, we recruited and hired staff to fill several senior executive positions, developed a new performance appraisal system, and launched an enhanced telework program including a space sharing component. In the area of engagement efficiency, we made significant progress on projects to improve managing and conducting engagements, utilizing resources, and communicating the message of our work.

To help determine how well we are meeting the needs of the Congress and the nation and maximizing its value as a leading practices agency, we assess our performance annually using a balanced set of quantitative measures.

To establish targets for all of our performance measures, we examine our past performance and the external factors that could influence our work and discuss with our senior executives what could be accomplished in the upcoming fiscal year. We may adjust these targets after we publish our annual performance plan based on changes in planned work or level of funding.

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