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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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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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...

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...

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...

Tax Enforcement: IRS Could Better Manage Alternative Dispute Resolution Programs to Maximize Benefits

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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 more than 65% between FYs 2013-2022, and the IRS doesn't have enough data to understand why. For instance, the IRS doesn't collect data on how often it rejects...

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Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Veterans Affairs

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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 Veterans Affairs outlines 29 open recommendations that it should prioritize. For example, we recommended that VA revise its guidance so that it uses funds for health care services more efficiently. VA implemented...

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: More Actions Needed to Explain Cost Growth and Support Engine Modernization Decision

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The Department of Defense's most expensive weapon system—the F-35 aircraft—is now more than a decade behind schedule and $183 billion over original cost estimates. This program is weighing options to upgrade its engine and cooling system. But it hasn't taken some important steps, such as fully assessing the costs and technical risks of the different options. DOD also doesn't plan to manage the upgrades as...

Priority Open Recommendations: Office of Management and Budget

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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 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) outlines 40 open recommendations that it should prioritize. For example, we made 11 recommendations to help OMB create a federal program inventory that would help the public better...

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Management Report: Improvements Needed in IRS's Financial Reporting and Information System Controls

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Each year, we audit the financial statements of the IRS and issue opinions regarding these statements and related internal controls (i.e., processes in place to ensure the proper authorization and recording of transactions). Our FY 2022 audit identified new issues related to IT systems, tax refunds, and safeguarding assets. For example, IRS did not adequately correct certain tax return errors according to its own procedures...

Science & Tech Spotlight: Directed Energy Weapons

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Directed energy weapons—such as lasers—use energy fired at the speed of light. These weapons can produce force that ranges from deterrent, to damaging, to destructive. Many countries, including the U.S., are researching their use. Because they use energy instead of bullets or missiles, directed energy weapons could be less expensive per shot and have virtually unlimited firing power. However, the long-term health effects of these...

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Nuclear Security: DOE Should Take Actions to Fully Implement Insider Threat Program

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The Department of Energy has several programs to ensure proper access to and handling of the nation's nuclear weapons and related information. DOE started a program in 2014 to further protect against insider threats from employees, contractors, and trusted visitors. But as of 2023, DOE hasn't fully implemented the program. For example, DOE doesn't ensure that employees are trained to identify and report potential insider...

Travel and Tourism: DOT Should Improve Strategic Planning and Data Collection

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The Department of Transportation provides grants to state, local, and tribal governments to support travel and tourism—which is vital to the U.S. economy. In 2019, travel and tourism in the U.S. generated $2 trillion and supported 9.9 million jobs. Travel and tourism is a relatively new responsibility for Transportation, but it hasn't created a strategic plan with clearly defined goals and strategies to achieve them...

DNA Collections: CBP is Collecting Samples from Individuals in Custody, but Needs Better Data for Program Oversight

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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...

Government Performance Management: Leading Practices to Enhance Interagency Collaboration and Address Crosscutting Challenges

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Many issues facing the nation—such as infectious diseases and climate change—require several federal agencies to collaborate and coordinate their efforts. We have identified 8 leading practices that could help agencies collaborate more effectively, such as bridging organizational cultures—e.g., putting compatible policies in place or agreeing on common terminology. For example, we've recommended defining "research and development" for the Department of Energy's 16 nuclear waste cleanup...

Bank Regulation: Preliminary Review of Agency Actions Related to March 2023 Bank Failures

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This testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives discusses our review of the March 2023 bank failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. Risky business strategies, weak risk management practices, and weak liquidity drove the failures. Both banks grew rapidly from 2019-2021—which can signal risk. Further, the growth was fueled heavily by deposits that weren't federally insured. Federal regulators raised concerns about these risks...

Highway Infrastructure: Better Alignment with Leading Practices Would Improve DOT's Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program

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When the Department of Transportation funded construction of the U.S. highway network decades ago, some highways cut through neighborhoods—disconnecting communities. Now some cities are either removing highways or building structures called "caps" over certain sections of highway to reuse the land for community and economic development. In Feb. 2023, Transportation awarded funds to 45 projects through a new pilot program to reconnect communities. But the...

Hanford Cleanup: DOE Should Validate Its Analysis of High-Level Waste Treatment Alternatives

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For more than 20 years, the Department of Energy has been building facilities to treat and dispose of radioactive and hazardous waste at its Hanford Site in Washington State. Waste treatment could cost about $341 billion and likely won't be complete until 2084. DOE has been analyzing treatment alternatives for the most highly radioactive waste. However, the agency hasn't sought an independent review of its...

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Priority Open Recommendations: Office of Personnel Management

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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 Office of Personnel Management (OPM) outlines 15 open recommendations that it should prioritize. For example, we recommended that OPM ensure that federal agencies have the guidance and technical assistance they need to effectively address...