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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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...

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...

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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...

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...

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...

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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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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...

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...

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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...

Information Technology: DHS Needs to Continue Addressing Critical Legacy Systems

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We testified about the Department of Homeland Security's attempts to update its aging IT systems. These legacy systems can be costly to maintain and vulnerable to hackers. We recommended in 2019 that DHS develop a modernization plan for one of its most critical legacy systems. DHS did so in February 2022, and included milestones in the plan to replace this system and remove outdated hardware...

Child Care: Observations on States' Use of COVID-19 Pandemic-Related Funding

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During the pandemic, Congress provided more than $52 billion in supplemental funding to help keep child care providers in business and ensure that low-income families could still access care. In this testimony, we discuss our work on how states used those funds, e.g., waiving family co-payments and increasing payments to care providers. States are still spending the money, and a full picture of its impact...

Environmental Sustainability: DOD Should Identify Workforce Capacity Needed to Achieve Goals

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In FY 2021, the Department of Defense used three times as much energy as all other federal agencies combined. President Biden issued an executive order in December 2021 requiring federal agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water use, and waste. DOD is working to comply with this executive order. For instance, it is increasing funding for key energy conservation projects. However, we found...

Zoonotic Diseases: Federal Actions Needed to Improve Surveillance and Better Assess Human Health Risks Posed by Wildlife

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There are more than 200 known zoonotic diseases—those caused by pathogens that spread between animals and humans. Domestically, zoonotic disease risks can come from U.S. wildlife and animals imported from abroad. While federal agencies are developing a surveillance system to detect zoonotic diseases in U.S. wildlife, they could also do more to improve collaboration—including sharing information on emerging diseases. Some of the federal regulations on...