Is the GAO boss not giving enough credit?
Gene L. Dodaro, head of the Government Accountability Office, writes on the pages of today's New York Times (boo!) about his agency's biennial assessment of poor-performing government agencies and programs.
"Since we started this list of programs at high risk of such problems two decades ago, our office has come to update it with each new Congress, and history shows that sustained, focused oversight from lawmakers and administration officials can save billions of dollars and improve services," Dodaro writes. "But while over one-third of the programs we listed previously have come off the list over the years, dozens of others have moved onto it. The latest high-risk list presents 30 areas ripe for Congress and President Obama to take action."
Dodaro notes that the list dropped the Defense Department's personnel security clearance program and the 2010 Census:
Both dealt sufficiently with identified vulnerabilities to warrant their removal. Three factors contributed to this success: high-level support from agencies, clear measures with which to gauge progress and strong Congressional oversight. Credit goes to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for holding the agencies involved accountable.
Later in his piece, Dodaro also thanks "Top agency officials and the Office of Management and Budget" for working with GAO on the top concerns.
But -- as GovExec's Tom Shoop rightly noted this morning -- don't the workers who actually helped make the changes deserve some credit too? What about the GAO auditors who toiled for hours to draft the reports that raised the alarm bells?
"High-level political support in agencies and congressional oversight are important factors, but they're not what gets the job done in addressing age-old problems and emerging issues," Shoop writes. "That task falls to career federal employees on the front lines."
Hear hear. Perhaps this is a good example of watchdogs caressing the hands that feed them. Though in theory GAO and federal inspectors general are politically independent, they all depend on good relationships with lawmakers and the White House to ensure sustained funding and political support.
Thoughts? Read Dodaro's op-ed and leave your thoughts in the comments section below
| February 16, 2011; 12:36 PM ET
Categories: FY-Eye, Oversight
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