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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Middle-Tier Defense Acquisitions: Rapid Prototyping and Fielding Requires Changes to Oversight and Development Approaches

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DOD is working to improve how fast it develops and delivers weapon systems. DOD has been using a streamlined process to do so—known as the middle tier of acquisitions or MTA pathway—which aims to deliver systems within 5 years from program start. We found that certain MTA programs that we reviewed don't fully incorporate 4 key principles of product development, such as dropping less urgent...

Cybersecurity High-Risk Series: Challenges in Protecting Cyber Critical Infrastructure

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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 third in a series of four, we cover the action related to protecting cyber critical infrastructure—specifically, strengthening the federal role in cybersecurity for critical infrastructure. For example, the Department of Energy needs to address cybersecurity risks to the U.S. power grid. We've...

Critical Infrastructure Protection: Time Frames to Complete DHS Efforts Would Help Sector Risk Management Agencies Implement Statutory Responsibilities

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Protecting critical infrastructure—like water supplies, electricity grids, and food production—is a national priority. Events like natural disasters or cyberattacks can disrupt services that Americans need for daily life. Many federal agencies are tasked with protecting the nation's critical infrastructure and look to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency for leadership on how to do it. A 2021 law expanded these agencies' responsibilities and added some...

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Export Controls: State Needs to Improve Compliance Data to Enhance Oversight of Defense Services

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U.S. companies or individuals that sell certain defense services, like military training, to foreign buyers often need permission first from the State Department, which enforces U.S. International Arms Trafficking Regulations. According to State, from FYs 2013-2021, it received 8,547 voluntary disclosures of potential regulation violations from exporters. However, State said it could not readily provide data from its compliance database on how many disclosures or...

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Military Child Care: DOD Efforts to Provide Affordable, Quality Care for Families

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The Department of Defense child care program has taken steps to provide quality care. For example, DOD requires its child development centers and school-age care programs to be nationally accredited. DOD also aims to support service members and their families by meeting military-specific child care needs—such as those created by non-traditional work hours or frequent relocations. Families were largely satisfied with the quality of care...

Supply Chain Resilience: Agencies Are Taking Steps to Expand Diplomatic Engagement and Coordinate with International Partners

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have disrupted global supply chains, which has resulted in numerous shortages—including for semiconductors used in automobile production. Federal agencies are working to strengthen global supply chains through diplomatic efforts. For instance, agencies have helped coordinate a U.S.-Mexico working group to collaborate on semiconductor and IT supply chains. However, companies may be reluctant to share data on their...

Administrative Separation Boards: Air Force Should Clarify Member Qualifications

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Administrative separation from the military can have lifelong implications regarding a veteran's benefits and future employment opportunities. Service members facing discharge for misconduct, unsatisfactory performance, and other reasons may present their case before an administrative separation board. These boards review evidence and recommend either retention or separation. Each service has established policies for convening these boards and selecting board members. These policies generally align with...

Public Health Preparedness: HHS Should Plan for Medical Countermeasure Development and Manufacturing Risks

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In 2012, Health and Human Services (HHS) established a program to ensure the U.S. could rapidly produce medical countermeasures—such as drugs and vaccines—in public health emergencies. The program didn't meet its goals in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, HHS found, and had trouble with large-scale production and quality control. HHS is transitioning to a new program but needs to take additional steps to ensure that...

State Small Business Credit Initiative: Improved Planning Could Help Treasury Limit Additional Delays

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Treasury's State Small Business Credit Initiative is authorized to provide $10 billion to states, territories, and tribal governments to support small business lending and investment programs. All 50 states, five territories, the District of Columbia, and 283 tribal governments have applied for these funds. However, Treasury is taking longer than expected to review applications and disburse funds. We found that it could improve how it...

Money Market Mutual Funds: Pandemic Revealed Unresolved Vulnerabilities

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During the 2007-2009 financial crisis, investors in money market mutual funds "ran"—cashed in their shares at the same time—to avoid losses. In 2014, SEC tried to prevent runs by revising its rules. The change allowed funds to impose a "gate" to temporarily block investors' access to shares if the funds were low on cash and assets easily sold for cash. But during the pandemic, investors...

Nursing Homes: CMS Should Make Ownership Information More Transparent for Consumers

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Care Compare is a web-based tool that lets consumers compare the quality ratings of health care providers participating in the Medicare program. We found that the information on owners of nursing homes—both organizations and individuals—isn't organized in a way that allows consumers to identify homes that share the same owners. This makes it difficult for consumers to determine whether a given owner is associated with...

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Pandemic Origins: Technologies and Challenges for Biological Investigations

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Pandemics have high health and economic costs. Understanding their origins can help policymakers craft responses to prevent future pandemics. Several technologies can help researchers discover a pandemic's origin, such as using genetic analysis and disease tracking. These investigations can be slow, but the technologies aren't the problem. For example, delays can result when investigators can't access biological samples, or if there aren't enough trained investigators...

Pandemic Origins: Technologies, Challenges, and Policy Options to Support Investigations

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We testified that understanding pandemic origins can help policymakers craft responses to prevent future events. This could help reduce the high health and economic costs associated with pandemics. Genetic analysis and other technologies can help researchers detect a pandemic's origin. Investigations into the origins of diseases can be slow, but the technologies aren't the problem. For example, delays can result when investigators can't access biological...

Emergency Relief Funds: Significant Improvements Are Needed to Address Fraud and Improper Payments

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The federal government distributed funds quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic. This led to an increase in fraud and other "improper payments"—payments that shouldn't have been made or were made in the incorrect amount. The extent of fraud in COVID-relief programs is not yet known but our estimate suggests that one program, Unemployment Insurance, made over $60 billion in fraudulent payments. We testified on contributing factors...

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Weapon System Sustainment: Navy Ship Usage Has Decreased as Challenges and Costs Have Increased

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From FYs 2011-2021, the 10 Navy ship classes we reviewed faced persistent and worsening challenges including a decrease in the number of hours a ship is available for operations or training. These challenges included: An increase in the number of working ship parts removed and used elsewhere due to parts shortages An increase in casualty reports—i.e., reports of events that impair a ship's ability to...

Medicare Advantage: Plans Generally Offered Some Supplemental Benefits, but CMS Has Limited Data on Utilization

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About half of Medicare users are enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA), private plans that offer the same benefits covered under Original Medicare and may offer additional benefits, such as dental or vision. In recent years, MA plans could offer new types of supplemental benefits, like in-home support services. But are plans offering additional benefits, and are people using them? We analyzed data for 3,893 plans...

Professional Standards Update No. 87

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Cybersecurity High-Risk Series: Challenges in Securing Federal Systems and Information

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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 second in a series of four, we cover the 3 actions related to Securing Federal Systems and Information: Improve implementation of government-wide cybersecurity initiatives Address weaknesses in federal agency information security programs Enhance the federal response to cyber incidents to better protect...

Pediatric Cancer Studies: Early Results of the Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity for Children Act

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In the U.S., pediatric cancer is among the most deadly childhood diseases—but relatively few drugs are approved to treat it. To facilitate the development of safe new drugs to treat children, the RACE Act requires developers of certain adult cancer drugs to submit plans to also study their use in pediatric patients. This has increased the number of planned pediatric cancer studies, but it's too...

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Government Auditing Standards: 2023 Exposure Draft

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Auditors around the world use our Yellow Book—Government Auditing Standards—to perform audits. We maintain the Yellow Book and stay on top of domestic and international auditing standards. This year, we are proposing an update to enhance how audit organizations manage audit quality. Effective quality management can reasonably assure an audit organization that its people, audits, and reports adhere to professional standards and applicable laws. Another...