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Government Oversight

The General Accounting Office (GAO)

"GAO plays a critical role for our democracy…an independent auditing institution is a key component of a democratic government."

--Senator Fred Thompson, Senate Governmental Affairs Committee

"Sometimes changes occur as a result of a GAO report, but sometimes just the fact that GAO is looking at an issue will drive officials to act. In the United States, laws set the minimum standards. GAO's work helps drive things above that minimum standard."

--Representative David Wu (D-Oregon)

The information below was developed by the General Accounting Office

GAO exists to support the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people. It examines how taxpayer dollars are spent and advises lawmakers and agency heads on ways to make government work better. GAO also seeks to improve accountability in government by informing policymakers and the public about emerging problems. It has experts in fields ranging from weapons procurement to welfare, banking to budgeting, and farm policy to foreign policy. GAO has done extensive work on cutting-edge issues ranging from the government's human capital crisis to homeland security. GAO also alerts policymakers to long-term challenges facing the nation, such as the aging of America and its impact on health care and retirement systems.

GAO issued nearly 1,000 reports and testimonies in fiscal year 2001. Most GAO work is requested by committees or members, or mandated by public laws or committee reports. GAO also undertakes its own research and development work. GAO's strategic plan and related documents describe the agency's mission, performance goals, key efforts, and potential outcomes for each of its strategic objectives for fiscal years 2002-2007 and are available at Links on that page will also provide access to GAO's performance and accountability reports.

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