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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Emergency Relief Funds: Significant Improvements Are Needed to Address Fraud and Improper Payments

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The federal government distributed funds quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic. This led to an increase in fraud and other "improper payments"—payments that shouldn't have been made or were made in the incorrect amount. The extent of fraud in COVID-relief programs is not yet known but our estimate suggests that one program, Unemployment Insurance, made over $60 billion in fraudulent payments. We testified on contributing factors...

Pandemic Origins: Technologies and Challenges for Biological Investigations

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Pandemics have high health and economic costs. Understanding their origins can help policymakers craft responses to prevent future pandemics. Several technologies can help researchers discover a pandemic's origin, such as using genetic analysis and disease tracking. These investigations can be slow, but the technologies aren't the problem. For example, delays can result when investigators can't access biological samples, or if there aren't enough trained investigators...

Pandemic Origins: Technologies, Challenges, and Policy Options to Support Investigations

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We testified that understanding pandemic origins can help policymakers craft responses to prevent future events. This could help reduce the high health and economic costs associated with pandemics. Genetic analysis and other technologies can help researchers detect a pandemic's origin. Investigations into the origins of diseases can be slow, but the technologies aren't the problem. For example, delays can result when investigators can't access biological...

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Weapon System Sustainment: Navy Ship Usage Has Decreased as Challenges and Costs Have Increased

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From FYs 2011-2021, the 10 Navy ship classes we reviewed faced persistent and worsening challenges including a decrease in the number of hours a ship is available for operations or training. These challenges included: An increase in the number of working ship parts removed and used elsewhere due to parts shortages An increase in casualty reports—i.e., reports of events that impair a ship's ability to...

Medicare Advantage: Plans Generally Offered Some Supplemental Benefits, but CMS Has Limited Data on Utilization

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About half of Medicare users are enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA), private plans that offer the same benefits covered under Original Medicare and may offer additional benefits, such as dental or vision. In recent years, MA plans could offer new types of supplemental benefits, like in-home support services. But are plans offering additional benefits, and are people using them? We analyzed data for 3,893 plans...

Cybersecurity High-Risk Series: Challenges in Securing Federal Systems and Information

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Federal systems are vulnerable to cyberattacks. Our High Risk report identified 10 critical actions for addressing federal cybersecurity challenges. In this report, the second in a series of four, we cover the 3 actions related to Securing Federal Systems and Information: Improve implementation of government-wide cybersecurity initiatives Address weaknesses in federal agency information security programs Enhance the federal response to cyber incidents to better protect...

Pediatric Cancer Studies: Early Results of the Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity for Children Act

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In the U.S., pediatric cancer is among the most deadly childhood diseases—but relatively few drugs are approved to treat it. To facilitate the development of safe new drugs to treat children, the RACE Act requires developers of certain adult cancer drugs to submit plans to also study their use in pediatric patients. This has increased the number of planned pediatric cancer studies, but it's too...

Professional Standards Update No. 87

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Tennessee Valley Authority: Additional Steps Are Needed to Better Manage Climate-Related Risks

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The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) provides electricity to 10 million customers in 7 states. TVA faces some climate-related risks that could affect its ability to generate and transmit electricity while keeping rates low. For example, in 2010, some TVA infrastructure was submerged in over 5 feet of water when 15 inches of rain fell in 2 days. Relocating this infrastructure to higher ground cost about...

Government Auditing Standards: 2023 Exposure Draft

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Auditors around the world use our Yellow Book—Government Auditing Standards—to perform audits. We maintain the Yellow Book and stay on top of domestic and international auditing standards. This year, we are proposing an update to enhance how audit organizations manage audit quality. Effective quality management can reasonably assure an audit organization that its people, audits, and reports adhere to professional standards and applicable laws. Another...

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Drones: FAA Should Improve Its Approach to Integrating Drones into the National Airspace System

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for safely integrating drones into the national airspace—a complex network that includes airports, aircraft, and air traffic control facilities. FAA has developed various planning documents to manage its efforts to integrate drones. But, it has yet to develop a comprehensive strategy to guide these efforts. For example, FAA's documents don't include important elements—such as goals, objectives, and milestones—that...

Contested Information Environment: Actions Needed to Strengthen Education and Training for DOD Leaders

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The United States' adversaries are exploiting social media, IT, and other aspects of the "information environment" to undermine the nation's security. Such actions can include making false social media posts or interfering with GPS data used by DOD leaders to make decisions about their military options, such as troop positions. In response, DOD educates and trains its leaders to address such threats. However, DOD hasn't...

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Affordable Broadband: FCC Could Improve Performance Goals and Measures, Consumer Outreach, and Fraud Risk Management

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Access to broadband—high-speed internet—has become critical for everyday life. But its cost may keep some people from having access to it. To make it more affordable for low-income Americans, the FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program offers monthly discounts on broadband service to eligible households. As of Sept. 2022, over 14 million households had enrolled—about a third of the estimated eligible households. FCC could strengthen the program's...

Clean Water Act: EPA Should Track Control of Combined Sewer Overflows and Water Quality Improvements

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Combined sewer systems collect sewage and storm runoff in the same pipes for treatment. This means heavy rainfall can overwhelm system capacity, causing raw sewage to overflow into waterways. About 700 U.S. municipalities have such systems. In 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency told these municipalities to develop plans to address overflows and comply with the Clean Water Act. The 11 municipalities we reviewed faced challenges—such...

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Federal Workforce: Strengthening Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

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As the nation's largest employer, the federal government strives to be a model for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). This snapshot discusses our work in this area from 2017-2022. For example, we've found: Agencies had mixed success in increasing workforce diversity. For example, the Intelligence Community's workforce saw increases in proportions of minorities, but didn't meet federal benchmarks The federal pay gap between men...

Federal Programs: Approaches to Help Create a Useful Inventory

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The federal government spends trillions of dollars each year on various programs. However, it does not have an inventory of all federal programs—despite the fact that it has been required to have one available on a public website since 2011. An annually updated inventory of federal programs would help the public better understand what the government does, what it spends, and what it achieves each...

Department of Energy Contracting: Additional Actions Could Further Strengthen Competition

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The Department of Energy relies on contractors to operate national laboratories and conduct environmental cleanup. Competition for these contracts saves taxpayer dollars and improves performance. DOE received multiple offers for most of its large contracts. But some industry representatives questioned the fairness of the award process, such as how officials rate potential contractors' relevant past work. We didn't find evidence to support such concerns, but...