GAO To Be Commended for its 100 Years of Service — Budget Process Still Needs Work

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Over the last century, GAO has examined government spending and has provided Congress and other federal agencies with research on how to reduce wasteful government expenditures. Often referred to as the “congressional watchdog,” GAO’s research has saved taxpayers billions of dollars through identifying programs and operations that are deemed ‘high risk’ due to their vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or that need transformation.

On June 22, 2021, the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution recognizing July 1, 2021 as the 100th anniversary of GAO’s founding. The resolution commends the agency for a century of service to Congress and the nation while offering the Senate’s continuing support for GAO’s objectives. The resolution further states that “GAO is known around the world as a leader and source of objective, nonpartisan information on government operations through its work examining cost, effectiveness, and other factors related to the success of federal programs…”

The monetary impact of the agency’s work has been profound. The financial benefit to the Federal Government resulting from the work of GAO totaled $77.6 billion in fiscal year 2020, and over $1.2 trillion in the past 20 years combined. National Taxpayers Union Foundation applauds these efforts and as such we, and our sister organization National Taxpayers Union, have cited GAO’s findings often, especially with regard to defense issues, government waste, and preventing the duplication of and overlap with existing government programs. NTUF looks favorably upon Congress’s continued partnership with and support of GAO in the pursuit of its mission. 

GAO was established a hundred years ago as part of the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921. This same law also established the modern era’s budget process, requiring the president to submit an annual budget proposal. WhereasGAO has been a paradigm of government accountability and efficiency, the budget process has been anything but. Missed timelines, government shutdowns, omnibus bills, massive deficits, and historic debt levels all point to the obvious conclusion that lawmakers need to reform the budget process

Thankfully, some of the groundwork for these reforms was laid out last year through a bipartisan effort led by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Additionally, NTU’s Director of Federal Policy Andrew Lautz has made a number of budgetary recommendations that would help put the budget on a road to a more sustainable future for the next generation of taxpayers. Congress should aim to make the entire budgetary process more effective and expedient, continue to support GAO, and make substantive use of its recommendations.