Reports & Testimonies

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.

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Family Child Care Networks: Actions Needed to Better Assess Quality Improvement Efforts

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The Department of Health and Human Services' Child Care and Development Fund is the primary source of federal funding for increasing low—income families' access to quality child care. States must use some of this money to improve the quality and availability of child care for all families. As part of this effort, states fund family child care networks, which offer services like coaching and training...

Federal Real Property: GSA Should Include Community Input Requirements to Help Fulfill Design Excellence Program Goals

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Since 1994, the General Services Administration has commissioned designs for 153 buildings as part of its Design Excellence Program, which encourages the creative design of new buildings for federal agencies. However, we found that GSA doesn't require this program's architects to obtain and consider community input on building designs. Such requirements could help integrate federal buildings into the local community—and reduce local opposition to the...

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Federal Real Property: Lessons Learned from Setbacks in New Sale and Transfer Process Could Benefit Future Disposal Efforts

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This testimony discusses how the federal government manages unneeded property—an issue on our High Risk List. A 2016 law set up a 3-round process to select and prepare these federal buildings for sale. Proceeds from prior rounds of sales go into a fund to help pay upfront costs for the next round. However, some participating agencies said they faced setbacks. Delays in selling 1st-round properties...

Weapon Systems Annual Assessment: Programs Are Not Consistently Implementing Practices That Can Help Accelerate Acquisitions

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This is our 21st annual assessment of DOD's weapon systems acquisition. We found that delivery of weapon systems continues to take longer than planned—affecting DOD's ability to meet threats. Supplier, software, and design problems drove these delays. We recommended that DOD update its policy on "modular open systems design"—an approach that helps DOD keep pace with advances in technology by allowing it to add or...

Congressional Award Foundation: Review of the FY 2022 Financial Statement Audit

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The Congressional Award Foundation is a privately-funded charity established by Congress that recognizes American youth for their public service, personal development, physical fitness, and exploration of other cultures or the wilderness. The Foundation is required to have its financial statements audited each year, and we are required to review those audits. The Foundation's auditor issued an "unmodified" or clean opinion on its FY 2022 and...

Space Command and Control: Improved Tracking and Reporting Would Clarify Progress amid Persistent Delays

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The Department of Defense relies on software-intensive systems for command and control of satellites and other space assets. With space more crowded than ever and threats to military satellites increasing, replacing DOD's aging command and control systems has become even more urgent. Reports on the system replacement program within DOD and to Congress don't include context, consistent metrics, or other information that would give a...

Wildland Fire: Federal Agencies Face Barriers to Recruiting and Retaining Firefighters

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U.S. wildfires have grown more severe in recent years. The Department of Agriculture's Forest Service and 4 agencies within the Department of the Interior rely on about 18,700 employees to fight fires. In this testimony, we discuss the federal wildland firefighter workforce. Low pay, career advancement challenges, poor work-life balance, and other factors have made it harder to get and keep these workers. The Forest...

Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Defense [Reissued with revisions on Jun. 8, 2023]

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Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help the federal government save money, address issues on our High Risk List, and significantly improve government operations. This letter to the Department of Defense outlines 89 open recommendations that it should prioritize. For example, 8 recommendations dealt with accident prevention and the safety of servicemembers, including a recommendation that military services' safety centers standardize what...

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Tax Enforcement: IRS Could Better Manage Alternative Dispute Resolution Programs to Maximize Benefits [Reissued with revisions on Jun. 7, 2023]

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This Fast Facts has been updated to correct a reference to the percentage of decline in program use. The IRS's alternative dispute resolution programs—which use an IRS mediator to resolve tax disputes between taxpayers and the agency—may be faster and less costly than its traditional appeals process. But the use of these programs fell by 65% between FYs 2013-2022, and the IRS doesn't have enough...

Public Health: Leading Practices Could Help Guide HHS Reform Efforts to Address Risk and Improve Preparedness

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Health and Human Services leads and coordinates the federal government's preparedness for and response to public health emergencies. This testimony discusses our work over the past decade, which identified ongoing, systemic problems with HHS's performance in this role. These problems affected the nation's response to past emergencies, such as COVID-19. We have identified leading practices HHS agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and...

Cybersecurity: Interior Needs to Address Threats to Federal Systems and Critical Infrastructure

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The Department of the Interior protects and manages a number of the nation's natural resources. For example, it oversees safety and environmental standards at offshore oil and gas facilities. We testified that Interior could improve its cybersecurity programs and practices, including those at offshore facilities. A cyberattack on one of these facilities could do significant damage and disrupt oil and gas supplies. We've previously recommended...

Missile Defense: DOD Needs to Improve Oversight of System Sustainment and Readiness

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DOD's Missile Defense Agency develops systems to detect attacks and track, intercept, and destroy missiles in flight. MDA shares responsibility for operating and maintaining these systems with the military services. This shared sustainment responsibility can be difficult when MDA and the services have different priorities for different parts of the system. DOD doesn't have a specific entity that oversees sustainment decisions for the whole system...

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The Nation's Fiscal Health: Action Needed to Address Projected Unsustainable Debt Levels

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This testimony discusses our work on the nation's unsustainable fiscal path, the fiscal risks of debt limit impasses, and what Congress could do to address these challenges. For example: Large annual budget deficits drive debt growth as spending exceeds revenue Interest costs make up a larger share of total spending as overall debt and interest rates increase over the long-term Delays in raising or suspending...

Veterans Employment: GI Bill Benefits Can Help Lead to Outdoor Recreation Careers

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Many veterans leave military service with wilderness survival and related skills that can translate into careers in outdoor recreation, such as park ranger. Veterans can build on these skills by using the GI Bill from the Department of Veterans Affairs towards degrees in environmental science, forestry, and related disciplines, as well as other specialized job training (e.g., mountain climbing instructor). Federal agencies, like the Forestry...

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DNA Collections: CBP is Collecting Samples from Individuals in Custody, but Needs Better Data for Program Oversight [Reissued with revisions on Jun. 5, 2023]

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Federal law enforcement agencies must collect DNA samples from certain detained noncitizens and people who are arrested, facing criminal charges, or convicted of crimes. The FBI sends DNA test kits to such agencies upon request. In fiscal year 2022, Customs and Border Protection collected samples from about 37% of the 1.7 million people it encountered. But the agency doesn't know whether this covers all the...

GPS Modernization: Space Force Should Reassess Requirements for Satellites and Handheld Devices

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DOD has worked for years to upgrade GPS with a military-specific signal known as M-code. DOD plans to have the needed ground, space, and user equipment ready soon. But it's unclear whether the current constellation of 24 satellites will meet some users' accuracy needs. Having 3 more satellites could help, but DOD may not be able to keep all 27 available consistently over the next...

Audit Recommendations: Opportunities for Agencies to Improve GAO-IG Act Reports

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GAO and federal agencies' inspectors general make recommendations that could save money or improve public services. But agencies don't always implement them. Agencies must report on unimplemented recommendations with their annual budget justification. Most of the agencies we reviewed did so, but the level of detail they provided varied—possibly because they were confused by the reporting requirements. The Office of Management and Budget offers guidance...

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Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Energy

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Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help the federal government save money, address issues on our High Risk List, and significantly improve government operations. This letter to the U.S. Department of Energy outlines 30 open recommendations that it should prioritize. For example, the U.S. electricity grid faces risks from climate change, and we recommended that DOE implement a department-wide strategy to improve...

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NASA: Assessments of Major Projects

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NASA plans to invest over $83 billion in its major projects to continue exploring Earth, the moon, and the solar system. This is our 15th annual assessment of these projects. In the last year, NASA decreased its total project "overruns"—when costs incurred are more than budgeted—by almost $5 billion. The agency's largest, most complex projects have the biggest impact on these overruns. A key factor...