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.
Authoritative bodies have promulgated laws, accounting standards, information system requirements, and related guidance to emphasize the need for cost information and cost management in the federal government.
In fiscal year 2004, lenders made about $65 billion in loans through the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) to assist students in paying for postsecondary education. The Higher Education Act (HEA), which authorizes FFELP, broadly defined eligible lenders--including schools.
In 1993, Congress authorized the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program as an alternative to the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP). While the Direct Loan Program was originally mandated to replace FFELP, Congress revised the law allowing both loan programs to continue.
The Department of Education's Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) administers more than $53 billion in financial aid for more than 8.1 million students. Since 1990, GAO has included student financial aid on its high-risk list.
The Department of Agriculture provided $15 billion in food stamp benefits to 17 million recipients in 2000. Until the mid-1990s, most recipients received paper coupons that they could use to buy food; today, 80 percent of all benefits are provided electronically.
Internal control weaknesses in the Department of Education's payment processes make the department vulnerable to improper payments. GAO focused on three types of disbursements made from May 1998 through September 2000--grants and loans totaling $181.
GAO provided information on agencies' efforts to implement the Government Performance and Results Act, focusing on six case studies of how agencies were able to address the challenge of developing performance measures for outcome goals that are influenced by external factors.