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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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Future Vertical Lift Aircraft: Army Should Implement Leading Practices to Mitigate Acquisition Risk

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The U.S. Army's fleet of helicopters is aging. The Army is planning to supplement and replace three aircraft with new ones capable of vertical take-off and landing. These aircraft will perform attack, transport, and reconnaissance missions. While the new aircraft are still in early stages, we found that the Army didn't always meet leading practices in acquiring them. For example, the Army developed cost estimates...

Science & Tech Spotlight: Synthetic Biology

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Synthetic biology can change the genetic material in viruses, bacteria, yeasts, plants, or animals to give them useful new characteristics. For example, integrating spider DNA makes a silkworm produce super strong, ultra-lightweight silk. The technology could help address challenges in areas such as medicine, agriculture, manufacturing, and the environment. This Science & Tech Spotlight describes some of the benefits of synthetic biology and the challenges...

Federal Trade Commission: Actions Needed to Improve Education Efforts and Awareness of Complaint Process for Franchise Owners

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Franchising is when business owners pay a fee to use a larger business's brand name and business model. The Federal Trade Commission protects franchise owners from unfair and deceptive practices on the part of the larger business ("the franchisor"). For example, if a franchise owner is unable to open, and the franchisor promised a fee refund but doesn't give one, FTC may take legal action...

Directed Energy Weapons: DOD Should Focus on Transition Planning

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DOD spends $1 billion annually on developing directed energy—concentrated electromagnetic energy—weapons. For example, DOD has developed high-energy lasers that have successfully shot down drones in demonstrations. However, DOD has had trouble getting these technologies out of the lab and into the field for several reasons—including determining how to use them in missions. The Army developed a detailed transition plan describing schedules and stakeholder roles to...

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Electric Vehicle Infrastructure: USPS Should Plan for Potential Workplace Charging

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The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is preparing to introduce electric vehicles into its delivery fleet, and is planning to install chargers for these fleet vehicles at some facilities. USPS employees could also benefit from these chargers by being able to charge their personal vehicles during a work shift. However, USPS has not incorporated the potential for sharing its fleet chargers with employees—or installing additional chargers...

Disaster Contracting: Action Needed to Improve Agencies' Use of Contracts for Wildfire Response and Recovery

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Wildfire season is getting longer, and the number of large fires is increasing—leaving more people and structures at risk. Several federal agencies share responsibility for leading wildfire response and recovery. These agencies often work with private sector contractors to obtain life-saving goods and services quickly. We looked at how three agencies contracted for goods and services for wildfire response. The agencies prioritized speed when ordering...

Fraud Risk Management: Key Areas for Federal Agency and Congressional Action

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Fraud in federal programs costs the U.S. government billions of dollars and erodes public trust in government. For example, estimated fraud in Unemployment Insurance during the pandemic totaled over $60 billion. Our prior work shows that agencies can reduce the risk of fraud in federal programs by following our Fraud Risk Framework. Congress can also help reduce fraud risk across the government by: Requiring agencies...

School Meal Programs: USDA Could Enhance Implementation of the Buy American Provision

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The Department of Agriculture's school meal programs feed about 30 million children every day. Participating school districts must buy domestic products for the meals as much as possible. USDA allows some exceptions to this rule based on availability, cost, and quality of domestic products. School districts mostly used exceptions to buy fruits that weren't grown domestically, such as bananas and pineapples. When school districts use...

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Federal Spending: Information on U.S. Funding to Entities Located in China

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U.S. agencies sometimes provide funding to recipients in foreign countries to advance U.S. interests. From 2017-2021, the U.S. provided at least $48 million to research institutions, companies, and other recipients located in China. For example, The Department of Health and Human Services funded a Chinese University to study diseases transmitted by insects, such as malaria. The State Department paid a company in China to obtain...

National Guard Helicopters: Additional Actions Needed to Prevent Accidents and Improve Safety

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The National Guard is comprised of Army and Air Force components. Both components fly helicopters to perform domestic and overseas missions. Together, they reported 298 accidents—mostly due to human errors—for certain helicopters during non-combat flights between FYs 2012-2021. We found that the Army and Air National Guard could improve how they promote safety. For example, safety officers have limited time to focus on safety issues—such...

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Capital Investment Grants Program: Cost Predictions Have Improved, but the Pandemic Complicates Assessing Ridership Predictions

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The Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Grants program helps cities, states, and localities build transit systems such as commuter rail. Grant applicants must develop capital cost and ridership predictions. FTA uses the predictions to help select projects and to later determine if a project delivered expected results. FTA has developed methods to help applicants make better predictions, such as by assessing how various factors may...

Satellite Control Network: Updating Sustainment Plan Would Help Space Force Better Manage Future Efforts

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Space Force—a branch of the U.S. military—runs a network of 19 antennas around the world that communicate with and control U.S. government satellites. This network is aging and difficult to maintain. At the same time, demand on the network is increasing as more satellites are launched. Space Force's long-term plan to sustain this network hasn't been updated since 2017, so it doesn't reflect recent acquisitions...

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Software Acquisition: Additional Actions Needed to Help DOD Implement Future Modernization Efforts

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To respond to evolving threats, DOD has to develop and deliver software-based weapon and IT systems quickly. DOD has started modernizing its software technologies, policies, and workforce to achieve this. A few years ago, DOD's advisory committees on science and innovation recommended ways to improve its software development and acquisitions. DOD has at least partially implemented all of those recommendations. For example, DOD improved training...

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Department of Education: Employment Information for Key Grant Programs that Foster Expertise in World Languages and Cultures

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Many career fields—such as diplomacy, national security, and business—need individuals with knowledge of languages and the world. The Department of Education provides funding to universities to develop experts with such credentials and grant fellowships to students. The 27 grantee universities we looked at encouraged students to pursue employment in certain fields by developing students' language skills and knowledge about other cultures and offering career services...