GAO says it saved taxpayers $43B in fiscal 2009

Savings are from congressional actions, agency actions and business process changes

The Government Accountability Office yielded $43 billion in financial benefits to taxpayers in fiscal 2009, the office said in a new report.

The benefits included $18.2 billion from statutory or regulatory changes by Congress based on GAO reporting, $16.6 billion from GAO-recommended improvements to federal agencies’ core business processes and governmentwide management reforms, and $8.2 billion from actions taken by federal agencies in response to GAO reports.

GAO published the results in its fiscal 2009 “Performance and Accountability Report,” released Nov. 13; the report totaled 172 pages.

The financial benefits generated in fiscal 2009 were slightly higher than the target of $42 billion due to several accomplishments with multiyear effects, the agency added.

The benefits were lower than the $58 billion generated in fiscal 2008, but GAO officials said that was an “exceptional year” with several unexpected benefits recorded. However, the fiscal 2009 benefit of $43 billion is described as consistent with those recorded in recent years, including $40 billion in fiscal 2005, $51 billion in fiscal 2006 and $46 billion in fiscal 2007.

“The amount of financial benefits we documented in fiscal year 2009 is more consistent with our actual performance in several of the last five years,” the GAO said in its report.

As a specific example of a financial benefit it helped to generate, the GAO took credit for $3.97 billion in savings over five years from federal agencies’ avoidance of certain costs related to government contracting. The avoidance savings originate from a GAO report in 2005 on the importance of pre-award audits in General Services Administration’s Multiple Award Schedules program. As a result of that report, GSA and its inspector general hired additional staff to conduct pre-award audits.

The GAO reports to Congress and the public on its investigations and audits of federal agencies. It recently reported that 16 federal information technology projects appear to be $2 billion over budget.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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