Following Hearing, Carper Highlights GAO High Risk List: “Our To-Do List in Congress”

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), released a statement on the Government Accountability Office (GAO)’s High Risk List following a committee hearing entitled, “High Risk List 2019: Recommendations to Reduce Risk of Waste, Fraud, and Mismanagement in Federal Programs.” GAO’s High Risk List identifies government agencies and programs deemed “high-risk” due to vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse or need for serious reforms. The list is issued every 2 years at the start of each new Congress and has led to more than $350 billion in financial benefits to the federal government in the past 13 years.

The 2019 High Risk List reveals that more than half of the 35 areas on the list remained largely unchanged with three areas regressing. The ratings of seven areas have improved and two have been removed from the list – “Department of Defense Supply Chain Management” and “Mitigating Gaps in Weather Satellite Data.” GAO also added two new areas to the list, which include “VA Acquisition Management” after identifying seven VA contracting challenges at the Department of Veterans Affairs and “Government-wide Personnel Security Clearance Process” which was added to the list in January 2018 due to growing concerns about security clearance backlogs and other issues.

“Today, GAO provided the federal government with what I call our ‘to-do’ list in Congress. GAO’s High Risk List calls attention to federal agencies and program areas that are high risk due to their vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement, or are most in need of transformation. Thanks to GAO highlighting these areas of vulnerability at the start of every Congress, and to agency and Congressional action to address these issues, we have seen more than $350 billion in financial benefits for the taxpayer in the past 13 years. Still, the release of this list is always sobering. And with our national debt estimated to reach $850 billion by the end of this year, this list makes it abundantly clear that we can and must do better.

“It’s a reminder of the many financial and oversight challenges that our government continues to face. This latest list shows that we can make progress in addressing these high-risk issues, and I’m encouraged by the good work being done by agencies to tackle the challenges they face. Perhaps most importantly, the report serves as a blueprint for how agencies and programs can work more efficiently for the taxpayer. As I like to say, we should find out what works and do more of that.

“That’s why, in today’s hearing, I asked GAO officials to identify ways Congress and the Administration can work together to address issue areas pinpointed as opportunities for improvement, such as the mismanagement of billions of dollars through improper payments in essential programs like Medicare. Today, Comptroller General Eugene Dodaro agreed that the Payment Integrity Information Act – my bipartisan bill with Chairman Johnson that would help curb over $140 billion dollars made in improper payments – would help solve the problem. With a little hard work and bipartisanship, we can begin to chip away at our ‘to-do’ list. By confronting these challenges head on, together, we can improve the effectiveness of government and be better stewards of the funds the American people entrust us with.”