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

GAO-23-105189
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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

GAO-23-105608
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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

GAO-23-105399
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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

GAO-23-105285
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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

GAO-23-106254
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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...

Broadband Funding: Stronger Management of Performance and Fraud Risk Needed for Tribal and Public-Private Partnership Grants

GAO-23-105426
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Tribal, rural, and economically disadvantaged areas are more likely to not have access to broadband service—which is vital for things like remote learning, telework, and telehealth. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) manages two grant programs that work to expand broadband access. We found that for one of these programs the agency's goals include extending reliable, affordable broadband to 200,000 households. However, NTIA doesn't...

Federal Programs: Approaches to Help Create a Useful Inventory

GAO-23-106272
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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

GAO-23-105209
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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...

COVID-19: HHS Funds Allocated to Support Disproportionately Affected Communities

GAO-23-105500
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Some U.S. communities suffered more from COVID-19 than others. For example, Latinos, Blacks, and American Indian or Alaska Natives have been hospitalized at 2 or more times the rate of Whites. People over age 65, rural communities, and others also fared worse. We reviewed how Health and Human Services (HHS) allocated certain pandemic relief funds to support disproportionately affected communities. HHS provided $75 billion to...

Columbia Class Submarine: Program Lacks Essential Schedule Insight amid Continuing Construction Challenges

GAO-23-106292
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The Navy is planning to spend $132 billion to develop and purchase 12 Columbia class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines—the largest and most complex submarine in its history. It plans to have the first one delivered in April 2027. The Navy lacks insight into the program's schedule because the shipbuilder hasn't conducted a schedule risk analysis, which can help identify and manage risks to achieving planned...

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Unemployment Insurance: Data Indicate Substantial Levels of Fraud during the Pandemic; DOL Should Implement an Antifraud Strategy

GAO-23-105523
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Congress created 4 new unemployment insurance programs to support workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following this expansion, the amount of fraud in these programs increased—with evidence indicating that the total fraud was over $60 billion and perhaps much higher. The Department of Labor has taken steps to address such fraud. For example, it issued guidance, provided funding to states, and recommended improvements to state unemployment...

GAOverview: Fraud in the Federal Government – Challenges Determining the Extent of Federal Fraud

GAO-23-106110
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Congress has long been interested in knowing how much fraud exists across the federal government. But reliably determining how often fraud occurs—and its impact—is especially challenging. In this "GAOverview," we discuss 3 key challenges. Specifically: Agencies define fraud differently, making fraud and related data difficult to study across agencies Because of the deceptive nature of fraud, it isn't always detected or reported Existing data on...

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Community Development Financial Institutions: Analysis of Annual and Emergency Assistance and Treasury Efforts to Address Program Risks

GAO-23-105952
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People in low- and moderate-income communities don't always have access to traditional financial institutions, like large banks. Community Development Financial Institutions are smaller, community-based organizations that provide financial services to help fill this gap. The Department of the Treasury receives federal funding to support these institutions—including $12 billion in emergency COVID-19 support in FY 2021. To help this support reach more communities, Treasury allowed higher-risk...

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Third-Party Litigation Financing: Market Characteristics, Data, and Trends

GAO-23-105210
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Third-party litigation financing is an arrangement in which a funder who is not a party to the lawsuit agrees to help fund it. Funders may get a pay off on their investment if the suit is successful. Funders are typically private firms that obtain funds from investors. We looked at trends, pros and cons, data limitations, and regulation of this practice. For example, federal law...

Veterans Benefits: VA Could Enhance Outreach for Its Solid Start Program by Increasing Collaboration with Veterans Organizations

GAO-23-105699
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In 2019, the Department of Veterans Affairs implemented Solid Start, an outreach program connecting new veterans with benefits and resources—like health care and employment counseling—to help overcome difficulties as they return to civilian life. Program representatives reached about 71% of eligible veterans via phone calls in 2021. Connecting with hard-to-reach groups—like veterans experiencing homelessness—could be improved by collaborating with veterans organizations. Such organizations already engage...

Cybersecurity High-Risk Series: Challenges in Establishing a Comprehensive Cybersecurity Strategy and Performing Effective Oversight

GAO-23-106415
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Federal IT systems and our nation's critical infrastructure are at risk of attack from malicious actors, including those acting on behalf of other nations. Such attacks could result in serious harm to human safety, national security, the environment, and the economy. The federal government should: establish a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy mitigate global supply chain risks address the federal cybersecurity worker shortage ensure the security of...

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Public Health Preparedness: HHS Could Improve Oversight of Research Involving Enhanced Potential Pandemic Pathogens

GAO-23-105455
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To better understand what causes a pandemic, pathogens may be altered during research in ways that affect how they spread and cause disease. However, these alterations could make them more transmissible or more deadly and lead to a pandemic. Department of Health and Human Services policy calls for additional reviews of and extra safeguards for proposed research involving altered pathogens with pandemic potential. But, the...

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Abusive Tax Schemes: Additional Steps Could Further IRS Efforts to Detect and Deter Promoters

GAO-23-105843
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Abusive tax schemes contribute to the nation's tax gap—the difference between taxes owed and paid. These schemes can involve complex, multi-layer transactions that attempt to conceal the true nature and ownership of taxable income or assets. One of IRS's tools to combat such schemes—and the people that promote them—is its Dirty Dozen list. This annual publication lists schemes that taxpayers may encounter. However, we found...

DOD Financial Management: Greater Attention and Accountability Needed over Government-Furnished Property

GAO-23-105198
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The DOD has struggled for decades to accurately account for government property in the possession of its contractors. DOD estimated that the value of such unaccounted property is over $220 billion—but that amount is likely significantly understated. This is one of the reasons that federal auditors are unable to audit DOD's financial statements. We found that DOD doesn't have a comprehensive, department-wide strategy to address...

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Corporate Income Tax: Effective Rates Before and After 2017 Law Change

GAO-23-105384
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Each year from 2014-2018, about half of large corporations and a quarter of profitable ones didn't owe federal taxes. For example, profitable corporations may not owe taxes due to prior years' losses. Average effective tax rates—the percentage of income paid after tax breaks—among profitable large corporations fell from 16% in 2014 to 9% in 2018. A 2017 tax law lowered the top corporate rate from...