Letter: GAO not doing what it was created for

Regarding "GAO: Financial reports aren't reliable"

At some point in this charade, somebody needs to blow the whistle on Government Accountability Office.

For almost 20 years, the GAO has been using the Chief Financial Officers Act and its pointless demand for government agencies to produce commercial financial statements as if they were profit-seeking businesses as an excuse to avoid doing the hard budgetary accounting job that GAO was created to do. That job is to report each year to the Congress on whether obligations by executive branch agencies were made in accordance with what was specified in the authorization and appropriation bills passed by the Congress for that year.

Rather than doing that important and necessary budgetary accounting job, however the GAO has opted for the easy, phony and non-value-adding option of whining every year that because the government (which is not a business) has trouble doing the financial accounting that profit-seeking businesses must do, the GAO are simply "unable" to [do] the statutory budgetary accounting and auditing job they are supposed to do. Poor GAO.

Of course, what allows the GAO to keep getting away with this charade every year is a politically astute Congress that enjoys (surprise) having a way to blame the executive branch for what are, in fact, its own failings to be proper stewards of the country's wallet. By being able to point to GAO's inflammatory criticisms of the executive branch's financial "failings" every year, the Congress has cleverly found a way to avoid having to confront its own failings and fool everybody all of the time. (Maybe David Walker finally realized this and that's why he quit after 10 years as the head of GAO.)

Christopher Hanks

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