Government Accountability Office

The Government Accountability Office ( GAO short ), the Court of Auditors, which is assumed to be non-partisan investigative body for the Congress of the United States. It examines government plans with respect to corruption, efficiency and mismanagement, advises the Congress on optimization issues in current and future programs and reviewed complaints against procurement decisions. In his tasks similar to the German Federal Court and the Federal Public Procurement Tribunal to the Federal Cartel Office.


The GAO was established as the General Accounting Office by the Federal Law of 10 June 1921. It has the task of examining " all the events in connection with the receipt, distribution and use of taxpayers' money " and " to report " to Congress and the President. Here it has to propose how public tasks can be performed more efficiently or cost-effective. "

On 7 July 2004, the General Accounting Office was renamed as part of the adoption of the Human Capital Reform Act to the Government Accountability Office.


The GAO is headed by the Comptroller General of the United States ( Auditor General ). He must be impartial and shall be appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate for a term of 15 years in his administration. The President selects from a list of at least three staff proposals to be created by an eight-member bipartisan commission from both houses of Congress. The Comptroller General may not be easily dismissed, his removal from office is possible only through a formal impeachment impeachment or joint resolution of both Houses of Congress. To date, there was no such case. The office is in the U.S. system of "political appointees " unique in that it is non-partisan and ensures the long term during the regular alternation of the government and parliament continuity.

From 1998 to 2008 led David M. Walker, former partner in the former accounting firm Arthur Andersen and official in the Labor Department under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, as the seventh Comptroller GAO. He resigned on 15 February 2008, to take over the presidency of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Since then directs Eugene Louis Dodaro GAO. The previous incumbent was John R. McCarl (1921-1936), Fred H. Brown (1939-1940), Lindsay Carter Warren (1940-1954), Joseph Campbell (1954-1965), Elmer B. Staats (1966-1981) and Charles Arthur Bowsher ( 1981-1996 ).

The GAO employs approximately 3,100 people. 80 % of whom work in the central administration in Washington, DC, the remaining 20% ​​in 11 field offices within the United States. Primarily analysts, computer specialists, accountants, lawyers and economists are employed. 80 % of the expenditure of the GAO staff are spending. The Authority has an annual budget iH of 489 million U.S. $ ( 2007). The staff of the GAO at all levels of civil servants; the posts are not to be occupied by political affiliations.

Duties of

The GAO has three core tasks:

  • Control of budgetary and accounting standards compliance
  • Review of public authorities and programs for effectiveness and efficiency
  • Review of procurement decisions on application

The control in the area of ​​budgetary and accounting rules used for the separation of powers: the executive branch, led by the U.S. president, ie the federal administration is responsible for virtually all items of expenditure in the U.S. federal budget. The legislature ( both houses of Congress ) is responsible for the budget authority which they exercise primarily through the adoption of the U.S. federal budget laws. The GAO allows the Congress to examine to what extent the federal budget shall follow the provisions of the laws and can prove this by a proper accounting. Here, the GAO is also responsible for formulating the rules applicable to the State accounting rules, ie GAO lays down the guidelines for accounting and the management of public funds in contracts to the private sector.

On the initiative of the Congress or by public authorities, the GAO examined the effectiveness and efficiency of individual authorities and the economics of programs. The reports of the GAO denounce ( often directly ) the waste of public money and therefore regularly enjoy a special media interest. The GAO has the ability to prioritize capacity reasons and orders may not be done. Relevant criteria here are urgency, representativeness and volume.

In connection with the award of public contracts inferior or not successful tenderer may request a review of the award decision before the GAO. The GAO audits on procedures, judgments and award decision. It may be the correct individual procedural errors, as well as stimulate a completely new method. In this function, the GAO has given special attention in Europe in the two-time review of the award by the U.S. Department of Defense to Boeing and Northrop Grumman with EADS as a major supplier of a contract for aerial refueling aircraft.

GAO works in the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions ( INTOSAI) with audit authorities of other countries combined. They develop common standards, jointly reviewed international organizations and processes take on peer review in part.

The GAO does not last as stewards of U.S. taxpayer: By monitoring the output state practice and on the basis of recommendations made by the GAO in 2007 were approx. 45.9 billion U.S. $ savings in public spending. All data and reports from the GAO are publicly available and are usually available in electronic form on the Internet.


GAO Fiscal Year 2007 Performance