Topic Descriptions

We classify our reports and other publications into 31 topics, described below. We assign one or more topic, as appropriate. For example, a report about veterans' education will be categorized under both Education and Veterans. Other instances of topic overlap are noted below.

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Agriculture and Food

Agricultural industry, markets, and food production (e.g., farm animals and crops). Food-related issues such as safety, nutrition, and domestic and international assistance.

Auditing and Financial Management

Auditing how-to, including methodologies, tools, techniques, and standards. Financial, forensic, and programmatic audits of federal agencies and the U.S. government.

Budget and Spending

The federal budget, budget projections, and agency budget systems. Government appropriations; federal, state, and local finance.

Business Regulation and Consumer Protection

Domestic and international business, small business programs, federal regulations. Consumer protection, (e.g., identity theft, insurance, regulation, and credit markets).

Economic Development

Domestic and international development initiatives, including loans and grants. Construction and disaster relief.


Educational programs ranging from preschool to adult/continuing education, including educational facilities, standards, and funding. Student loans and grants.


Labor statistics and trends, employment demographics. Workforce development, benefits and compensation, worker safety and protection, and unemployment assistance.


The energy industry and the government agencies that regulate it. Nuclear waste, oil and gas resources, alternative fuels, emissions, and other energy-related topics.

Equal Opportunity

Civil rights and equal protection under the law in matters of age, color, disability, etc. Representation and discrimination in the workplace.

Financial Markets and Institutions

Credit and lending; stocks, bonds, and other securities. Consumer financial protection and financial regulatory agencies.

GAO Missions and Operations

The history and mission of GAO and its programs and services. GAO publications and guidance, including GAO’s policies, protocols, and practices.

Government Operations

Federal government organization, management, and regulation, plus intergovernmental issues. Census and elections, as well as government efficiency and effectiveness.

Health Care

Health care services, facilities, personnel, costs, insurance, and reform. Federal programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the military and veterans’ health systems.

Homeland Security

National security policy and practice (e.g., transportation security, immigration, emergency response). Preventing terrorism and preparing for weapons of mass destruction.


Housing finance, such as mortgages, insurance, and related regulations. Federally-assisted housing, housing types (e.g., rental, public, or low-income), and homelessness.

Human Capital

Diversity and EEO; employment demographics. Federal and private pay and benefits; performance management; employee development and retention; workforce issues.

Information Management

Data collection, document disposal, records management. Laws regulating access to information, such as the Freedom of Information Act and the DATA Act.

Information Security

Cybersecurity, privacy, IT systems, and federal laws and policies on collecting, storing, sharing, and using sensitive, classified, or personally identifiable information.

Information Technology

Federal information technology (IT) policy, laws, investment, and strategy. Acquisition, enterprise architecture, integration, and security of civilian and military systems.

International Affairs

Government interests in international politics, law, finance, economics, trade, commerce, and immigration. International treaties, foreign aid, investments, and diplomacy.

Justice and Law Enforcement

The justice system, including courts, crime, corrections, immigration, lawsuits, trials, judges, and attorneys. Law enforcement agencies and officers.

National Defense

Military readiness, including people and infrastructure; weapons, defense, space systems, and technology. DOD internal operations and budget; the military health system.

Natural Resources and Environment

Environmental protection, cleanup, and the associated policies, laws, and agencies. Natural resources such as land, water, minerals, wildlife, and energy resources.

Retirement Security

Federal, state, local, military, and veterans retirement systems. Private retirement plans, savings rates, and Social Security.

Science and Technology

Federal investment and participation in research, experiments, science, and engineering. Effects of technological, chemical, and other innovations.


Space-related research and development, space exploration, transportation, and support personnel and facilities. Defense and communications satellites.

Tax Policy and Administration

Tax administration, enforcement, laws, policies, and reform. The IRS and other agencies involved in tax issues.


Internet and data services and privacy, broadband access, public safety communications, communication security, television and radio, and voice services.


Modes of travel, transportation laws and policies, transportation safety and security. Transit systems, pipelines, and freight and shipping.


The Department of Veterans Affairs and its work in employment and training, education, benefits, home loans, insurance, and health care for veterans and retired military.

Worker and Family Assistance

Social welfare programs and services focusing on economic assistance, faith-based and community initiatives, child and family issues, nutrition and unemployment assistance.