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.
This report provides an update on the federal government’s fiscal condition at the end of FY 2019 and the unsustainable path it is on if policies don’t change.
Among its findings:
Publicly held debt rose to 79% of GDP.
Every major federal department has at least 2 trust funds or dedicated funds that pay for key programs. The money comes from related taxes, fees, and premiums—e.g., U.S. postage stamp revenue goes to the Postal Service Fund.
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.
The federal government is on an unsustainable fiscal path.
Federal spending continues to outpace revenue—by $587 billion in 2016—and, absent policy changes, the structural gap between revenues and spending puts the federal government on an unsustainable long-term fiscal path.
Federal entities--agencies, corporations, and others--are growing users of credit and debit cards, as both "merchants" (receiving payments) and purchasers. Merchants accepting cards incur fees--called merchant discount fees--paid to banks to process the transactions.
Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the fee structure and methodology used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in developing user fees, focusing on whether the proposed fees reflect IRS actual costs.