Advances in science and technology can quickly become indispensable in our daily lives and to the nation as a whole. Policymakers need reliable, timely information on science and technology topics as rapid developments increase complexity and affect the economy, national security, and more.
At GAO, we have responded to this need by expanding our capacity to examine science and technology related issues government-wide and to provide Congress with foresight and insight into emerging trends. We are also working to enhance financial and performance audits, and other tools for government oversight, by using emerging technologies.
Check out this video we made to help bring you up to speed on 5G technology:
As part of GAO’s expanding capacity, we launched a Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics team in January 2019. The team is focused on helping Congress understand and address several critical trends that will profoundly affect the nation. These trends include:
Members of Congress and their staff need trusted, nonpartisan information on the performance of federal programs and their outcomes for Americans. GAO offers performance evaluations and other assistance and analysis, which have increasingly included science and technology areas such as:
- Managing research and development. Scientific research and development are critical to keeping the government and the nation moving forward. This work is often costly and complex, and frequently involves large, multidisciplinary teams that need to manage federal money efficiently and effectively, while accomplishing their work. Learn more about our work on federal research oversight.
- Supporting the innovation economy. We assess programs that promote innovation, such as advanced manufacturing, as well as federal policies and funding for the protection of intellectual property. We reported on intellectual property rights in biomedical research and small business assistance.
- Best practices in government oversight. Our work also provides agencies across the government with guides to better understand whether government programs are achieving their goals. These guides offer best practices for federal managers.
Since its inception, GAO’s science and technology team has further expanded its network of experts to increase the depth, breadth, and diversity of its knowledge. In October 2020, the team hosted an inaugural meeting of the Polaris Council, a group of exceptional science, technology, and policy leaders and experts from many fields, established to advise us on emerging science and technology issues facing Congress.
The team also established an Innovation Lab to empower GAO with new capabilities and enhanced capacity to tackle evolving challenges. The data scientists and technologists of the Innovation Lab are working with GAO mission teams and the broader oversight community at the cutting edge of oversight, examining the latest technological advances, every day. Among the Innovation Lab’s projects is GAO’s Operation Warp Speed Dashboard, a digital platform featuring vaccine development and technology readiness information about federally funded COVID-19 vaccines.