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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

GAO's Shrinking Staff


For the first time in its 75-year history, the Government Accountability Office will see its staffing level fall below 3,000, Comptroller General Gene Dodaro warned in testimony about his agency's budget request released Tuesday morning.

"We have carefully reviewed every aspect of our operations from a zero base to identify opportunities to reduce costs without sacrificing the quality of our work and preserving our ability to assist the Congress in addressing the most important priorities facing the nation," he said. "However, given that staff costs now represent about 81 percent of our budget and the deep reductions already taken in our infrastructure programs, reducing the size of our workforce could not be avoided."

GAO has experienced a net reduction of 11 percent in staff capacity, or 365 people, in the last two years.

The agency's request for $526.2 million for fiscal 2013 is a "modest" increase of 2.9 percent over its 2012 level but 5.4 percent below what the agency enjoyed in fiscal 2010, Dodaro said. The boost would be used to partially restore funding to begin a multi-year effort to rebuild the GAO's workforce by bolstering recruitment and retention benefits and to replace "end-of-life" technology.

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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