Bill to lighten GAO's workload awaits Obama's signature


A bill to lighten the workload of the Government Accountability Office passed the House Dec. 13 and, having passed the Senate in June, awaits action from President Obama.

The bill, the GAO Mandates Revision Act, would eliminate (.pdf) certain audits that Congress requires the GAO to perform and make others less frequent.

The legislative branch agency would no longer have to audit the Judicial Survivors' Annuities System. The GAO made no recommendations in its 2005 (.pdf) and 2008 (.pdf) reports on the system, which provides benefits to the families of deceased federal judges. GAO is required by law to audit the system every 3 years, although the 2008 audit appears to be its most recent.

Audits of the Senate Preservation Fund, currently mandated to occur annually, would only need to happen every 3 years. According to the GAO's 2012 report (.pdf) on the fund, it spent $3,308 in fiscal 2010, up from $1,966 the previous year.

The senator who introduced the bill, Tom Carper (D-Del.), said in a statement Dec. 13 that the reduced requirements will let the GAO "focus its limited resources on its most important work and help Americans get a bigger bang for their buck."

The GAO would also have to audit the Office of National Drug Control Policy every 3 years instead of annually. Those reviews look at the office in general as well as programs such as the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program and the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.

Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), respectively the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, cosponsored the legislation.

"We do not want them wasting their time on useless or out-dated reporting and auditing requirements," Lieberman said.

Collins noted that the GAO has faced budget cuts lately and has fewer employees now than at any point since 1935.

For more:
- download the bill, GAO Mandates Revision Act of 2012 (.pdf)

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