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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

GAO Offers Suggestions For Congressional Oversight

The head of Congress' nonpartisan investigative agency has offered the new Congress three sets of recommendations for oversight once lawmakers convene in January.

The first suggests targets for near-term oversight; the second proposes policies and programs that are in need of fundamental reform and re-engineering; and the third lists governance issues that should be addressed to help ensure an economical, efficient, effective, ethical, and equitable federal government capable of responding to the various challenges and capitalizing on related opportunities in the 21st century, says David Walker, comptroller general of the United States and chief of the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

"As you know, GAO has three key roles to play in making a difference for the Congress and the American people: oversight, insight, and foresight," Walker told lawmakers. "The attached lists reflect those missions and represent an effort to synthesize GAO’s institutional knowledge and special expertise for the benefit of you and your colleagues in your planning efforts. In this regard, I believe that to be effective, congressional oversight needs to be constructive. For example, related hearings and other activities should offer opportunities for leading federal agencies to share best practices and facilitate governmentwide transformation. They should also hold people accountable for delivering positive results in an economical, efficient, effective, ethical, and equitable manner. This balanced approach is likely to help accelerate progress while avoiding a further erosion of the public’s trust and confidence in government."

Examples provided by Walker include:

  • Reduce the Tax Gap
  • Review U.S. and Coalition Efforts to Stabilize and Rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Assess Overall Military Readiness, Transformation Efforts, and Existing Plans to Assure the Sustainability of the All-Volunteer Force
  • Assure the Quality and Competitiveness of the U.S. Education System
  • Review the Need for Various Budget Controls and Legislative Process Revisions in Light of Current Deficits and Our Long-Range Fiscal Imbalance

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