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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Data Center Optimization: Agencies Continue to Report Progress

GAO-23-105946
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In 2010, the Office of Management and Budget began an effort to reduce the number of duplicative or outdated federal data centers. Legislation and other OMB efforts have followed. Our progress review found: Agencies closed 58 data centers in FY 2021 Agencies expected to close 78 centers in FY 2022 22 of 24 agencies met their savings goals for FY 2021, identifying $612 million in...

Federal Workforce: OPM Advances Efforts to Close Government-wide Skills Gaps but Needs a Plan to Improve Its Own Capacity

GAO-23-105528
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The federal government needs a highly skilled and specialized workforce to carry out many of its missions, including cybersecurity or acquisitions. Federal agencies look to the Office of Personnel Management for guidance on closing gaps in the skills and experience of their workforces. But OPM has similar gaps of its own that could prevent it from helping other agencies. OPM has taken steps to address...

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Subminimum Wage Program: DOL Could Do More to Ensure Timely Oversight

GAO-23-105116
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Employers that hold a special certificate from the Department of Labor can pay people with disabilities wages below the federal minimum wage. We found that about 120,000 workers were employed under these certificates, with half earning less than $3.50 an hour. DOL oversees the certificate program, in part, by reviewing employers' applications and ensuring that they pay workers the correct wages. However, DOL has no...

VA Health Care: VHA Lacks Reliable Onboarding Data for New Clinical Staff

GAO-23-105706
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The Veterans Health Administration provides health care services for more than 9 million veterans. During the COVID-19 pandemic, VHA found itself short-handed and needed to hire more clinical staff—such as doctors and nurses—quickly. VHA modified its hiring practices to allow new clinical staff to start work before finishing some time-consuming tasks like fingerprint checks and physical exams. But VHA's main hiring system doesn't accurately track...

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EPA Chemical Reviews: Workforce Planning Gaps Contributed to Missed Deadlines

GAO-23-105728
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In 2016, Congress set deadlines for the Environmental Protection Agency to review health and environmental impacts of certain chemicals already in use, starting initially with 10 chemicals. It also required EPA to determine the safety of certain new chemicals before they can be manufactured. We found that EPA: Missed most deadlines for reviews of existing chemicals since 2016 Typically met the deadline less than 10%...

Veterans Health Administration: Action Needed to Address Persistent Control Weaknesses and Related Risks in Employee Screening Processes

GAO-23-104296
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The Veterans Health Administration provides health care to over 9 million veterans. It is responsible for ensuring that its providers are qualified, competent, and suitable to provide care. The Drug Enforcement Administration requires VHA medical centers to get a waiver before employing anyone with a controlled substance-related felony conviction whose job gives them access to such substances. But VHA doesn't have a waiver policy and...

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K-12 Education: New Charter Schools Receiving Grants to Open Grew Faster Than Peers

GAO-23-106268
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Charter schools are publicly-funded schools that are governed by independent organizations. The Department of Education awards "Charter Schools Program" grants to help open or expand charter schools across the nation. We reviewed charter schools that received funds from these grants between 2006-2020. The schools generally had higher student enrollment growth compared to similar charter schools that did not receive a grant. We also found that...

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Department of Education: Additional Data Collection Would Help Assess the Performance of a Program Supporting College Students with Disabilities

GAO-23-105551
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The Department of Education gives grants to schools and organizations to help disadvantaged students—including students with disabilities—prepare for, enroll in, and graduate from college. The Student Support Services program is its only college access program whose target population specifically includes students with disabilities. But Education does not collect complete information about the disability status of the students helped through the program. As a result, it...

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Institutional Review Boards: Actions Needed to Improve Federal Oversight and Examine Effectiveness

GAO-23-104721
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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) assess the ethics and safety of research studies involving human subjects, such as behavioral studies or clinical trials for new drugs or medical devices. Health and Human Services oversees about 2,300 U.S.-based IRBs through routine or for-cause inspections to assess if they are following federal laws when reviewing research. But few IRBs are inspected. For example, one HHS agency aims to...

Farm Bill: Reducing Crop Insurance Costs Could Fund Other Priorities

GAO-23-106228
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers subsidized crop insurance to protect farmers from financial losses, such as from poor harvests and declines in market prices. This snapshot identifies changes Congress could make to the program to reduce its costs. We have previously suggested that Congress: Reduce subsidies to high-income participants by creating an income limit Adjust compensation to insurance companies to better align with market...

Climate Change: Options to Enhance the Resilience of Agricultural Producers and Reduce Federal Fiscal Exposure

GAO-23-104557
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Climate change will negatively affect crop and livestock production in some regions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is developing and sharing information about climate change with farmers and ranchers. USDA also plans to better integrate climate resilience into agency decision-making. We identified 13 options that USDA could integrate into its ongoing climate resilience planning. One option is to expand "technical assistance" or expert advice provided...

Financial Audit: FY 2022 and FY 2021 Consolidated Financial Statements of the U.S. Government

GAO-23-105837
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The Financial Report of the U.S. Government provides a comprehensive view of government finances, including revenues, costs, assets, liabilities, and long-term sustainability. We audit the financial statements in that report each year, but we haven't yet been able to determine if they are fairly presented. This year, it was primarily due to: Serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense Unresolved differences in balances...

Veterans Health Administration: Hiring Trends in the U.S. Pacific Territories

GAO-23-105953
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In recent years, we and others have raised questions about whether Veterans Health Administration has the clinical workforce to meet the health care needs of veterans in the U.S. Pacific territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. We reviewed VHA vacancy trends and more. VHA employed 88 staff across the territories as of Sept. 2022, with most working in...

Financial Audit: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Funds' 2022 and 2021 Financial Statements

GAO-23-105570
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The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures over $9 trillion in deposits, and protects your money if your FDIC-insured bank fails. We audit and issue opinions annually on financial statements of FDIC's insurance funds and on related internal controls (e.g., processes to reasonably assure that transactions are properly authorized and recorded). We found that the statements were reliable and that FDIC's controls over financial reporting were...

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Cybersecurity High-Risk Series: Challenges in Protecting Privacy and Sensitive Data

GAO-23-106443
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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 last in a series of four, we cover the 2 actions related to Protecting Privacy and Sensitive Data: Improve federal efforts to protect privacy and sensitive data, such as reducing the cybersecurity risks in retirement plans Improve the protection of federally collected...

Science & Tech Spotlight: Digital Twins—Virtual Models of People and Objects

GAO-23-106453
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"Digital twins" are virtual representations of physical objects, processes, or systems—like factories, traffic patterns, and even people. A digital twin is used to predict how changes may affect its physical counterpart. For example, a city could use a digital twin to monitor its energy use to plan for extreme weather. Digital twins have benefits, like making manufacturing more efficient, but they can raise technical, security...

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Abandoned Hardrock Mines: Land Management Agencies Should Improve Reporting of Total Cleanup Costs

GAO-23-105408
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There are thousands of abandoned hardrock mine features—e.g., pits or tunnels—on federal lands, which can pose risks to human health or wildlife. The Departments of the Interior and Agriculture spent about $109 million and $10 million, respectively, to clean up such contamination during FYs 2017-2021. Both agencies said they have more abandoned hardrock mines than funds to clean them up. But the agencies haven't clearly...

Adult Drug Court Programs: Factors Related to Eligibility and Acceptance of Offers to Participate in DOJ Funded Adult Drug Courts

GAO-23-105272
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Adult drug courts are specialized courts for criminal offenders with substance use disorders. They work to divert individuals from the criminal justice system by offering drug treatment and rehabilitation services and incentives like reduced jail time. We looked at reasons why some individuals may not participate in these programs. We found that some people may not be eligible because of violent criminal records or mental...

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VA Mental Health: Additional Action Needed to Assess Rural Veterans' Access to Intensive Care

GAO-23-105544
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Our past work and other research shows that veterans—especially those living in rural areas—can have trouble getting the mental health care they need. Veterans Health Administration officials confirmed that veterans living in rural areas face unique barriers to accessing mental health care, such as staff shortages in rural facilities and transportation issues. VHA assesses its intensive mental health care programs but doesn't specifically monitor rural...

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Unemployment Insurance: DOL Needs to Address Substantial Pandemic UI Fraud and Reduce Persistent Risks

GAO-23-106586
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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. We estimate that, during the pandemic, total fraud in these programs was over $60 billion and perhaps much higher. The Department of Labor has issued guidance, provided funding to states, and recommended improvements to state unemployment insurance programs to address...