Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Congress lightens GAO’s load

Watchdog agency welcomes cancellation of ‘outdated’ mandatory reports.

The Government Accountability Office will be relieved of some long-required audits and reviews now considered burdensome and low-impact under a bill the lame-duck House approved on Thursday.

The GAO Mandates Revision Act (S 3315), which the Senate passed in September, was introduced by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., and backed by leaders of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. It is designed to streamline GAO’s work by cancelling or modifying eight statutorily mandated audits in such areas as exports to Haiti and the American Battle Monuments Commission. The bill now heads to President Obama’s desk.

"GAO reports help those of us in government -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- do our jobs better and help us make our government more efficient, effective and productive,” Carper said in a statement. “That's why it is so important that we avoid weighing down this research powerhouse with unnecessary and outdated work that can take months -- even years -- to complete.”

Ranking committee member Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said, "GAO is one of Congress' most important partners and has faced difficult budget tightening in recent years. The agency is at its lowest staffing level since 1935. It's only fair that, as we ask the analysts to take on critical work to support our efforts in the legislative branch, we remove any requirements that no longer make sense."

The agency responded favorably. “We are pleased with the passage of the Mandates Revision Act,” GAO public affairs managing director Chuck Young told Government Executive. “Some of the mandates are long-standing, and the changes will help us ensure we can prioritize our work in ways that best meet the Congress’ current needs.”