GAO’s reports and testimonies give Congress, federal agencies, and the public timely, fact-based, non-partisan information that can improve government operations and save taxpayers billions of dollars.
The federal government faces a severe shortage of digital expertise in fields such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. A recent report urged establishing a new service academy—similar to the military academies—to train future digital civil servants.
We make more than 1,000 recommendations annually to help improve government. We alert department heads to the recommendations that can save the most money, address issues on our High Risk List, or significantly improve their operations.
Improper payments—those made by the federal government to the wrong person, in the wrong amount, or for the wrong reason—are a significant problem. In fiscal year 2019, government-wide improper payment estimates totaled about $175 billion.
In fiscal year 2019, agencies across government made an estimated $175 billion in improper payments—payments that should not have been made or were made in the incorrect amount. But this total comes from individual agency estimates, which aren’t all reliable.
Q: How does the government help keep banks, water systems, and other critical infrastructure from getting hacked?
A: A federal agency that issues standards and procedures—NIST—has a cybersecurity framework that critical infrastructure organizations can adopt.
Federal agencies are increasingly using cloud computing services. Cloud computing offers benefits but also poses cybersecurity risks. OMB requires agencies to use the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program to authorize their use of cloud services.
Not all federal funding is reviewed each year as part of the annual appropriations process. For example, Congress can make a law that allows an agency to collect fees for services, such as copyright registration fees, and use that money without further congressional action.
Each year, nearly every adult and business provides some form of information to a federal agency, whether via tax forms or benefits applications. Agencies estimate the time and resources it takes to provide this information to help manage the paperwork burden placed on the public.
What GAO Found Most of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors took action to facilitate adoption of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity by entities within their sectors.