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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 Research: Information on Funding for U.S.-China Research Collaboration and Other International Activities

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The U.S. government sometimes supports international research collaborations by providing funding to foreign entities—such as universities and public health organizations. This also gives U.S. researchers access to global scientific resources. From FY 2015 to 2021, federal agencies provided $28.9 million directly to Chinese entities for research and development activities. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health awarded funds...

Climate Change: Oversight of Federal Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Efforts

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Each year the federal government reports spending billions of dollars on activities related to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. These activities include investments in energy efficiency and technologies to capture carbon dioxide before it enters the atmosphere. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 provided additional billions of dollars in funding and tax credits for such efforts. We drew from previous reports...

Tracking the Funds: Specific Fiscal Year 2022 Provisions for Department of Labor

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As part of FY22 appropriations, Members of Congress could request to designate a certain amount of federal funding for specific projects in their communities. While agencies often have discretion over how they award funds, Congress has directed them to distribute these funds to designated recipients. We're tracking the funds to help ensure transparency. The Department of Labor's FY22 appropriations included $137.6 million for 173 of...

VA Acquisition Management: Actions Needed to Better Manage the Acquisition Workforce

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VA spends billions of dollars each year to acquire goods and services that support its mission. VA's acquisition management is on GAO's High Risk list in part due to issues in managing its acquisition workforce. In our survey of VA's acquisition workforce, employees raised concerns about performance expectations and other issues. We found that VA leadership doesn't have complete data on its acquisition workforce—like its...

Decarbonization: Status, Challenges, and Policy Options for Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage

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Technologies that capture, use, and store carbon can help address climate change. These technologies capture CO2 at sources like industrial facilities or remove it from the atmosphere, then either store it underground or use it to produce goods, like concrete. Many of these technologies are ready for wider demonstration or deployment. But, the industry overall is in its infancy and faces multiple challenges, including high...

Large Constellations of Satellites: Mitigating Environmental and Other Effects

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For decades, satellites have been used for GPS, communications, and remote sensing. The number of satellites has recently increased, as thousands more have been launched to provide internet access. But this increase may be disruptive. For example, it could lead to more space debris, which can damage existing satellites used for commerce or national security. We reviewed technologies and other tools to lessen potential effects...

Nuclear Waste: DOE Needs to Improve Transparency in Planning for Disposal of Certain Low-Level Waste

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The Department of Energy is responsible for disposing of certain low-level nuclear waste from medical equipment, metals in nuclear reactors, and cleanup sites. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 required DOE to assess the potential environmental effects of various disposal options. No legal options currently exist. DOE's assessments were extensive but didn't give rationales for preferring certain disposal options. They also weren't clear on the...

Small Business Administration: Recent Changes to the 8(a) Program's Financial Thresholds Need Evaluation

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We looked at SBA's 8(a) Business Development Program, which helps socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses. We found: SBA didn't submit any of its required annual 8(a) program reports to Congress on time in 2016—2021. For example, it submitted reports for 2016 and 2017 in 2020. SBA also hasn't developed a plan to address delays for future reporting. In July 2020, SBA began allowing businesses...

Higher Education: VA Could Improve Support for Veterans Pursuing STEM Degrees

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During the last 3 years, over 130,000 veterans used their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to pursue a bachelor's degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). Veterans who run out of these benefits without getting a degree can apply for the Rogers STEM scholarship. But 63% of scholarship applicants were denied. Veterans Affairs doesn't collect data to understand application denial trends, including race and sex...

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Base Realignment and Closure: DOD Should Provide Congress More Complete and Transparent Information

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The Department of Defense has closed bases through a process called Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), most recently in 2005-2011. DOD must clean up hazards that pose risks to people and the environment and restore these sites for future use. We found that DOD didn't report complete information to Congress on ongoing environmental activities and costs related to BRAC from 1998-2011. For example, DOD didn't...

Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle: Navy Needs to Employ Better Management Practices to Ensure Swift Delivery to the Fleet

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The Navy is trying to deploy five large, robotic submarines to do the dangerous job of laying undersea mines. But the effort is more than 3 years behind schedule and has exceeded costs by at least $242 million. The Navy sees these robotic subs as a way to fill an urgent need—under DOD policy, this means ensuring that a solution can be delivered within 2...

Cloud Computing: Federal Agencies Face Four Challenges

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Federal agencies plan to spend billions of dollars each year to support their IT and cybersecurity efforts. These efforts include transitioning their IT resources to secure, cost-effective commercial cloud services. We've identified challenges in 4 areas that agencies must overcome to fully realize the benefits of transitioning to cloud services. Specifically, agencies face challenges in: Ensuring cybersecurity Procuring cloud services Maintaining a skilled workforce Tracking...

Medicaid: Efforts to Address Fraud in Nonemergency Medical Transportation

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State Medicaid programs often contract with third party transportation brokers or managed care organizations to arrange nonemergency transportation for beneficiaries who can't get to medical appointments on their own. Medicaid fraud investigations led to about 200 criminal convictions, civil settlements, and judgments against transportation providers in 25 states from FY 2015-20. Fraud included these providers billing for trips that didn't occur and using unauthorized drivers...

Southwest Border: CBP Oversees Short-Term Custody Standards, but Border Patrol Could Better Monitor Care of At-Risk Individuals

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Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has seen a significant increase in the number of individuals they apprehend between U.S. ports of entry along the southwest border. This has resulted in overcrowding and difficult humanitarian conditions in its facilities. CBP monitors the care of individuals in its custody in various ways. For example, staff are required to conduct and document welfare checks every 15 minutes for...

Civil Service: Agency Responses and Perspectives on Former Executive Order to Create a New Schedule F Category of Federal Positions

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The government created a new category of federal positions in 2020 for certain policy roles. These "Schedule F" positions would have been exempt from competitive hiring rules, and individuals wouldn't have had access to certain due process rights, such as the right to appeal if removed from these positions. We found that no agency placed positions into Schedule F before the executive order that created...

Military Inspectors General: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Processes for Administrative Investigations and Training

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Military service Inspectors General (IG) respond to complaints (e.g., whistleblower, safety and health) from military and civilian personnel. But, for most commands, the IG must get commander approval to initiate an investigation. This may deter complainants from sharing valid concerns if they aren't reassured that the IG operates independently. Also, initial IG staff training addresses key aspects of administrative investigations. Recurring training could help to...

Nuclear Waste Cleanup: Actions Needed to Determine Whether DOE's New Contracting Approach is Achieving Desired Results

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The Department of Energy uses contractors to clean up radioactive and other hazardous materials at 15 nuclear weapons production and energy research sites. In 2019, it began a new contracting approach that was expected to help streamline the process and provide other benefits. As of June 2022, it had awarded 6 contracts worth up to a combined $47 billion through this model. We found weaknesses...