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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Information Management: Agencies Need to Streamline Electronic Services

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Federal agencies must obtain written consent from individuals before disclosing their personal information. The Office of Management and Budget issued guidance that outlined agencies' responsibilities for accepting digital access and consent forms. Agencies were to implement the requirements in this guidance by November 2021. We found that, as of August 2022, only 1 of the 17 agencies that we reviewed had done so (the Securities...

Tactical Aircraft Investments: DOD Needs Additional Portfolio Analysis to Inform Future Budget Decisions

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DOD is upgrading its fleet of fighter and attack planes, known as tactical aircraft. Most of these planes—purchased in the 1970s and 80s—have outlived their planned service lives. Over the next 5 years, DOD is proposing to spend nearly $100 billion on major investments and changes to its current mix of tactical aircraft. This includes modernizing existing aircraft buying and developing new aircraft retiring a...

Emergency Rental Assistance: Treasury's Oversight is Limited by Incomplete Data and Risk Assessment

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Through the $46 billion Emergency Rental Assistance program, the Department of the Treasury helps those who can't pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Third party studies and eviction data suggest that the program has helped limit evictions. But Treasury doesn't have complete data on payments or recipients. For example, Treasury is missing data on 26% of payments made to households in 2021. In addition...

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Federal Reserve Lending Programs: Risks Remain Low in Related Credit Markets, and Main Street Loans Have Generally Performed Well

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The Federal Reserve's emergency lending programs helped support access to credit for businesses, employers, state and local governments, and others during the COVID-19 pandemic. The last of these programs stopped purchasing assets or extending credit by the end of July 2021. Since these programs have stopped extending credit, we found that: Corporations and small businesses generally have easy access to credit Municipalities' borrowing costs have...

Medicare: CMS Needs to Address Risks Posed by Provider Enrollment Waivers and Flexibilities

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To respond to COVID-19, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services waived Medicare requirements to help health care providers treat patients. We identified 47 waivers and flexibilities, such as waiving about 7,300 fingerprint-based background checks for types of providers posing a high risk of fraud, waste, and abuse. Medicare took some steps to oversee providers who enrolled under waivers and flexibilities, such as investigating potential...

Drug Control: Office of National Drug Control Policy Met Some Strategy Requirements but Needs a Performance Evaluation Plan

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CDC data estimates that a record 107,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021. National efforts to prevent, respond to, and recover from drug misuse are on our High Risk List. The Office of National Drug Control Policy's National Drug Control Strategy aims to reduce illegal drug use and promote prevention, treatment, and recovery. The 2022 Strategy fully met some legal requirements, including setting long-range...

Military Correctional Facilities: Consistent Application of Standards and Improved Oversight Could Enhance Health and Safety

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The U.S. military services operate a combined 36 military correctional facilities around the world. As of 2021, these facilities held 1,131 service members who were awaiting trial or had been sentenced by court-martial. Each service branch is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of the staff and incarcerated service members at their respective facilities. We found: Most of the branches routinely assess whether their...

Cancer Clinical Trials: Federal Actions and Selected Non-Federal Practices to Facilitate Diversity of Patients

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Despite more than 3 decades of government policies to improve diversity in clinical cancer trials, certain groups remain underrepresented, including some racial and ethnic groups, women, and low-income individuals. Diversity in clinical trials aims to ensure safe and effective treatments for any patient likely to use them. To increase diversity in federally-funded clinical cancer trials, agencies broadened eligibility requirements, reimbursed patient out-of-pocket costs to reduce...

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COVID-19 Relief Funds: Lessons Learned Could Improve Future Distribution of Federal Emergency Relief to Tribal Recipients

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The public health and economic effects of COVID-19 on tribal nations have been especially severe. To help tribes recover, Congress's pandemic relief funding has included at least $43.6 billion to support new and existing programs that tribes could use to address their unique needs. While some agencies used existing programs to distribute funds quickly, others had to develop new ones. In some cases, these new...

Veterans Health Care: Staffing Challenges Persist for Fully Integrating Mental Health and Primary Care Services

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With the growing demand for mental health services, Veterans Health Administration facilities must make providers—like psychologists and psychiatrists—available within primary care settings to assess and treat veterans with mild-to-moderate symptoms and conditions, like anxiety or depression. But persistent staffing issues at some VHA facilities have negatively affected efforts to integrate these services into primary care settings. To address this, some facilities have offered flexible work...

Women in the Workforce: The Gender Pay Gap Is Greater for Certain Racial and Ethnic Groups and Varies by Education Level

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In recent years, women were underrepresented in management positions and the gender pay gap was greater for certain groups. Published Census Bureau data showed that in 2021: Women made up about 44% of the total workforce but only 41% of managers Overall, women earned about $.82 for every dollar men earned; Hispanic or Latina women earned about $.58 and Black women earned about $.63 for...

VA IT Contracting: Observations on Trends, Competition, and Past Performance Information

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From FYs 2017-2021, Veterans Affairs spent over $25 billion on IT products and services, including efforts to update its electronic health records system. Long-standing problems with IT acquisitions is one reason VA is on our High Risk list. Over the same period, VA awarded more dollars in IT contracts annually to fewer contractors. The growth in IT contract dollars was due in part to VA's...

Disaster Recovery: Better Information Is Needed on the Progress of Block Grant Funds

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Hurricanes and wildfires affected millions of people in the U.S. and its territories in 2017 and 2018—and the U.S. government provided billions of dollars in grants to help with recovery efforts. But funding for housing activities—such as home repairs—has been slow to reach affected communities. As of July 2022, states and territories that received the vast majority of the grants had disbursed only 28% of...

Women in Special Operations: Improvements to Policy, Data, and Assessments Needed to Better Understand and Address Career Barriers

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Can gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and other barriers explain why women make up less than 10% of special operations forces? U.S. Special Operations Command may not have the information needed to fully assess barriers affecting women's careers in the command. For example, the command doesn't have full access to timely, complete data on its assigned personnel, including incidents of discrimination, harassment, and sexual assault. Collaborating...

Information Technology and Cybersecurity: Evolving the Scorecard Remains Important for Monitoring Agencies' Progress

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The federal government annually spends more than $100 billion on IT and cyber investments—many of which have been ineffectively managed. Congress passed laws to address these issues, including provisions such as the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA). We testified that, since 2015, Congress has issued scorecards to monitor agencies' implementation of FITARA and key IT topics. The scorecards have evolved and served as...

COVID-19 in Nursing Homes: Outbreak Duration Averaged 4 Weeks and Was Strongly Associated with Community Spread

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From June 2020 through December 2021, nursing homes faced many separate COVID-19 outbreaks, with the average outbreak lasting 4 weeks. We found that certain factors increased the likelihood that a nursing home would have a longer outbreak. Specifically, transmission of COVID-19 in the community surrounding a nursing home had the strongest association, with nursing homes located in areas with high transmission more likely to have...

Private Health Insurance: State and Federal Oversight of Provider Networks Varies

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A majority of Americans are covered by private health insurance plans. Health plans set up provider networks—contracted doctors, other providers, and facilities—to provide medical care to enrollees. A provider network is considered "inadequate" if it doesn't have enough providers for enrollees to receive timely care nearby. Inadequate networks may lead enrollees to seek higher-cost care from out-of-network providers. Most states said they review plans for...

Federal Research and Development: Funding Has Grown since 2012 and Is Concentrated within a Few Agencies

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Innovation is critical to U.S. competitiveness, prosperity, and security. In the last 10 years, the federal government has increased funding for research and development (R&D)—investing $179.5 billion in FY 2021. DOD and the Department of Health and Human Services received 77% of the FY 2021 funding. COVID-19 stimulus funding led to large R&D increases for HHS. For example, an HHS agency that helps develop vaccines...

Telecommunications Workforce: Additional Workers Will Be Needed to Deploy Broadband, but Concerns Exist About Availability

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Recent legislation included big increases in federal funding for the deployment of broadband, which is increasingly critical to daily life, but unavailable in some areas. Our analysis found that thousands more skilled workers will be needed to deploy broadband and 5G funded by recent federal programs. If this work is spread over 10 years, at its peak, the funding would support about 23,000 additional workers...

Chief Data Officer Council: Progress in Strengthening Federal Evidence-Based Policymaking

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In 2019, the government created the position of Chief Data Officer at each federal agency, along with a government-wide council made up of these and other officials. Since that time, the Chief Data Officer Council has worked to improve how the federal government collects and uses data, and agencies have built on these efforts. For example, the Council released a training development guide in June...