Legislation Would Help GAO Focus Limited Resources
Jun 20 2012
WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, introduced the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Mandates Revision Act (S. 3315), legislation that would reduce the number of unnecessary and outdated congressionally-mandated GAO audits and reviews. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-Maine) are cosponsors of the measure.
"The Government Accountability Office delivers Members of Congress, our staffs, and committees invaluable information and research on bills, programs, initiatives and issues throughout the federal government," said Sen. Carper. "Its reports help those of us in government – Republicans and Democrats alike – do our jobs better and help us make our government more efficient, effective, and productive. That's why it is so important that we don't weigh down this research powerhouse with unnecessary and outdated reviews, audits, and exams, which can take months – even years – to complete. My subcommittee on Federal Financial Management relies heavily on the Government Accountability Office to identify areas of waste and reduce inefficiency within the federal government, and I think it is time we adopt a similar effort to reduce redundant or unnecessary requirements for the Government Accountability Office. Streamlining the requirements that Congress places on the Government Accountability Office will allow this critical agency to continue to focus its limited resources on its most important work and help Americans get a better bang for their taxpayer buck. I urge my colleague to support this bill."
Congress often requests that the GAO perform an examination of a program, agency or other federal activity, but sometimes these GAO exams and audits are established as an annual review with no end date. However, in several cases, the program under study could end or the importance of the review could wane, yet the GAO is still required to continue its review until Congress changes its original statute. This problem leads to duplicative or unnecessary work for GAO, which often results in long delays for Congress to receive new GAO work. The GAO Mandates Revision Act lists eight outdated projects proposed by GAO to cancel or modify.
For example, the GAO examines annually an export-import allowance program for Haiti, even though the program is virtually inactive. In another example, the GAO is charged with conducting a financial audit of the American Battle Monuments Commission, even though the Commission will soon conduct its own financial audit, leaving the GAO work as duplicative.