GAO chief worried about growing investigations workload

Comptroller General David Walker said Tuesday he might have to consider turning down congressional requests for investigations because of a manpower shortage.

Appearing before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Walker outlined "special challenges" facing GAO. For example, the watchdog agency has a backlog of unstaffed requests.

"We are concerned that we may not be able to respond to engagements we accept in a timely manner if the backlog builds," he said. In that case, he added, he and key congressional committees may have to make "some tough choices, such as possibly reconsidering and reprioritizing any pending requests and not being able to accept requests from individual members."

Walker said that following its highly publicized clash with Vice President Cheney over the administration's refusal to turn over records of Cheney's National Energy Policy Development Group, the agency has "not experienced thus far a proliferation" of access denials. But he warned investigations would be impeded if that does occur.

On agency accomplishments, Walker said GAO saved the government $37.7 billion in fiscal 2002, compared to $19.7 billion in 1998, when Walker took the job.

However, an outside GAO reviewer, Maurice McTigue, questioned whether higher savings is a good sign. McTigue, director of the Government Accountability Project at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, said money recovery is "a significant achievement but what does it tell us?" He testified: "Is the problem of bad behavior by government organizations getting worse? GAO's reporting falls short of giving us a picture of improvement or deterioration in management practices in government organizations."

McTigue, a former member of the New Zealand Parliament, also suggested that GAO, which he called the "best of the best" in government, take on a role of monitoring whether the Justice Department is impeding civil liberties because of expanded police powers.

"It seems to me that an organization like GAO has the reputation for credibility and integrity to be able to examine the use of these powers in confidence," McTigue said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.