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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High-Risk Series: Efforts Made to Achieve Progress Need to Be Maintained and Expanded to Fully Address All Areas

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We issued our updated High Risk List in April 2023. The list highlights 37 areas across the federal government that are vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement, or that need broad reform. Overall, 16 areas on our list improved—including VA health care and the Postal Service. One area—DOD's business systems modernization—regressed. And we removed two existing areas—the 2020 decennial census and pension benefit programs...

DHS Annual Assessment: Major Acquisition Programs Are Generally Meeting Goals, but Cybersecurity Policy Needs Clarification

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This is our 8th annual assessment of the Department of Homeland Security's major acquisition programs. These programs acquire systems for operations like securing the border, screening travelers, and improving disaster response. We found that 18 of the 25 programs we reviewed were meeting their cost and schedule goals by the end of FY 2022. DHS also requires programs to identify their cybersecurity risks in a...

U.S. Postal Service: Action Needed to Improve Credibility of Cost Assumptions for Next Generation Delivery Vehicles

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USPS is replacing its fleet of 200,000 delivery vehicles. Its new vehicles will include features like air bags, collision sensors, and an electric vehicle option. USPS analyzed different factors, like fuel costs, to determine what proportion of gas and electric vehicles to purchase. In March 2022, USPS used a gas price of $2.71 in its analysis when actual gas prices were higher—affecting the decision to...

Military Housing: DOD Can Further Strengthen Oversight of Its Privatized Housing Program [Reissued with Revisions Apr. 20, 2023]

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Private-sector companies own and operate about 99% of homes at U.S. military installations. Laws put in place since 2019 increased DOD's responsibilities to oversee this housing. DOD has taken steps to address requirements but could do more. For example, DOD: Provided residents with a formal dispute resolution process and access to a tenant advocate, but should improve advocates' training, provide residents better information, and solicit...

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Aviation Workforce: Supply of Airline Pilots and Aircraft Mechanics

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This testimony discusses our ongoing review of the workforce challenges facing commercial aviation and steps the industry is taking to address them. Increased demand for commercial airline travel heightens the need for pilots and mechanics. Although the number of pilots has grown in recent years, there may not be enough of them to meet the needs of airlines in the future. There also may not...

Management Report: Federal Housing Finance Agency Should Improve Controls over Personnel and Payroll Information

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We audit the Federal Housing Finance Agency's financial statements every year. During our 2022 audit, we identified issues with FHFA's internal controls related to the processing of personnel and payroll information. Internal controls are processes to reasonably assure that transactions are properly authorized and recorded. Specifically, we found instances where FHFA: Recorded the wrong employee benefits (i.e., life insurance and retirement plan) information Paid an...

Installation Management: DOD Needs Better Data, Stronger Oversight, and Increased Transparency to Address Significant Infrastructure and Environmental Challenges

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The Department of Defense manages hundreds of military installations around the world, with facilities and infrastructure to support its mission and the people who live and work there. This testimony includes information from our prior reports and ongoing work on how DOD can better manage its installations to address challenges, such as: repair and environmental cleanup costs estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars potential...

Veterans Affairs: Observations for Proposed Legislation

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Congress is considering some legislation to help improve management at the Department of Veterans Affairs—including for some of its most expensive programs, such as Electronic Health Records Modernization and supply chain management. This testimony discusses some of our prior work that could help Congress as it considers this legislation. Improving health care for veterans and how the VA manages acquisitions are both areas on our...

Southwest Border: DHS Coordinates with and Funds Nonprofits Serving Noncitizens

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Some noncitizens are released from custody while they wait for resolution of their immigration court cases. When the Department of Homeland Security releases them, it may coordinate with nonprofit organizations to help them with their immediate food, shelter, and travel needs. One DHS grant program offers funds for these nonprofits to help local communities better manage the costs of new arrivals. In fiscal years 2019...

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Cybersecurity: VA Needs to Address Privacy and Security Challenges

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Veterans Affairs relies on IT systems to receive and maintain sensitive data, including medical records. Federal law establishes requirements for protecting personally identifiable information and securing IT systems. VA partially implemented certain key privacy practices. For instance, it still needs to ensure that it is hiring and training enough staff to protect the privacy of its data. In addition, VA has struggled to safeguard its...

Coast Guard: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Foreign Port Security Assessment Program

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Terrorists and criminals can target the U.S. supply chain through security vulnerabilities in foreign ports. The Coast Guard's International Port Security Program aims to assess and strengthen the security of these ports. We reviewed the program, which resumed full operations in May 2021 after being impacted by the pandemic. We found that the Coast Guard could: More consistently assess security in countries that don't allow...

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Human Trafficking: Department of State Collaborates with Partner Governments on Child Protection Compacts but Should Strengthen Oversight

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The U.N. estimates a third of human trafficking victims worldwide are children. The State Department creates partnerships or "compacts" with selected countries, like Ghana and Peru, to combat child trafficking. The U.S. and partner countries meet annually to discuss steps taken to address child trafficking. But State hasn't set key discussion guidelines for the meetings or measurable goals to assess countries' progress. Nor has it...

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...