(Nicholas Croce, far right, 2nd year M.P.P student at Heller)
GAO — The Congressional Watchdog
It’s 3 A.M. A Congressional staffer wakes up in a cold sweat. There’s a policy question swirling in their head, and they can’t shake it — “but what to do? Who to call?” Have no fear, Congress — The Watchdog is here!
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has been around since the 1920’s, advising Congress on pressing matters facing the Nation. GAO is the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) of the United States, and it performs policy analysis and program audits on federal agencies and issues like the federal debt, on behalf of Congress. Its organization is structured into twelve mission teams, including Financial Markets and Community Investment, Natural Resources and the Environment, and Homeland Security and Justice.
I’ve been working as a GAO Student Trainee for a few months and have been impressed by the organization’s high level of professionalism, and its commitment to non-partisanship and fact-based analysis, commitments built upon three core values: Accountability, Integrity, and Reliability. GAO’s workforce is spread out among 11 field offices and Washington, D.C. My engagement team has been putting into action GAO’s core values through our work on Diversity in the Technology Sector. The engagement — part of the Education, Workforce, and Income Security (EWIS) mission team — is examining the levels of diversity in technology industries, and the federal role in promoting and ensuring such diversity.
All in all, it has been a great experience to learn a bit about how Congress monitors federal programs. As a citizen, it is reassuring to learn that such an agency exists. And, its results speak for themselves. GAO recommendations saved the Government over $74.7 billion in FY2015. The agency’s budget totaled $551 million — a return of $134 on every dollar allocated to GAO. In my opinion, that’s fiscal responsibility at its finest, and we as a nation should continue investing in impactful and measured policy analysis and audits.
MPP Candidate ’17
Heller School for Social Policy and Management
Concentration: Poverty Alleviation