Celebrate the Astounding Accomplishments Made by GAO in FY2019

The Government Accountability 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.”

That seems like an awesome responsibility, and looking through GAO’s Performance and Accountability Report Fiscal Year 2019, you see that it covers absolutely every aspect of our government. It really makes their FY2019 accomplishments even more impressive. The recommendations they made saved $214.7 billion. That means that for every dollar that was invested in the GAO budget, they gave a return of $338! That is nearly double the $171 average return they provided over the past five years.

Upon the release of the report, Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States, and the head of the GAO said, “I want to thank Congress for its support and congratulate every GAO employee for their contributions that helped to make 2019 another highly successful year.”

While dollar signs are definitely important when evaluating performance, in this case, it is only the beginning of amazing success. In addition to the financial return, the GAO’s work also helped Federal agencies make 1,418 non-financial improvements, (i.e., unrelated to monetary value).

Let’s look at few highlights of the astounding accomplishments the GAO contributed to:

Reduced Spending

  • $170.8 billion – Financial benefits realized due to the high-risk designation and subsequent corrective actions
  • $136.1 billion – Reduced the Department of Defense’s procurement costs related to weapon systems acquisitions
  • $24.2 billion – Reduced the Department of Education’s cost estimates for student loans
  • $900.2 million – Improved the Internal Revenue Service’s efforts to combat identity theft refund fraud
  • Fiscal Responsibility – GAO will continue providing Congress with recommendations for improving the nation’s fiscal health and bringing revenue more in line with spending

Improved Public Safety

  • Safe Drinking Water – Established grant programs to test for and remediate sources of lead in school drinking water, including replacing old water fountains
  • Suicide Prevention – Issued a suicide prevention media and outreach management standard operating procedure to help ensure continuity of the Veterans Health Administration’s suicide prevention efforts
  • Disaster Response and Recovery – Issued 18 reports and made 52 recommendations to improve disaster response and recovery


  • School Stability – Required state and local education agencies to collaborate with child welfare agencies to help ensure school stability for foster children
  • School Transportation – Required local education agencies to provide and fund transportation to keep foster children in their original schools


  • Improved Security – Fully implemented recommendations that improved the Census Bureau’s ability to conduct a secure and cost-effective count of the nation’s population
  • Identified Vulnerabilities – Uncovered cybersecurity vulnerabilities in weapon system acquisitions, the 2020 Census, and the information systems at the civilian agencies covered by the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990
  • Bolstered Expertise – Hired 30 new experts to help build GAO’s Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics team and to expand cybersecurity capabilities


  • Improved Processes – The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) was directed to modernize and improve its appeals and improve the accuracy and fairness of Gulf War illness claims
  • Retrofitted Facilities – Congress directed the VA to retrofit facilities to better care for women veterans
  • Enhanced Disclosure – The Secretary of Transportation was directed by Congress to create an advisory council to review options for improving disclosure of charges for air medical services
  • Refined Differentiation – Citizenship and Immigration Services improved the asylum officers’ tools to help them better distinguish between applications that comply with the law and those that do not

These descriptions cover a fraction of GAO’s important work, recent accomplishments, and future concerns. Take a moment to browse through the report to learn more about how GAO approached their discussions, analyses, and challenges with further details about performance.

Written by:
Natalie Komitsky
Financial Management
Media Type:
FY 2019  GAO  

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