This testimony discusses the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2013. GAO very much appreciates the confidence Congress has shown in the efforts to help support the Congress in carrying out its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve government performance and accountability for the benefit of the American people.
GAO is requesting an appropriation of $526.2 million for FY 2013 to support a staffing level of 3,100. This funding level represents a modest increase of 2.9 percent over FY 2012, and is 5.4 percent below our FY 2010 level. The majority of the requested increase represents the first step in rebuilding our staff capacity to a level that will enable us to optimize the benefits we yield for the Congress and the nation.
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. 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. By the end of FY 2012, for the first time in over 75 years, GAO’s staffing level will drop below 3,000 staff, resulting in a net reduction of 11 percent in our staff capacity, or 365 people, in only a 2-year period.
GAO’s work directly contributes to improvements in a broad array of federal programs affecting Americans everywhere and remains one of the best investments across the federal government. With this committee’s support, in FY 2011, GAO provided assistance to every standing congressional committee and about 70 percent of their subcommittees. GAO issues hundreds of products annually in response to congressional requests and mandates. Our work yielded significant results across the government, including financial benefits of $45.7 billion—a return on investment of $81 for every dollar invested in GAO. Our findings and recommendations produce measurable financial benefits for the federal government, enabled through the actions of Congress and Executive Branch agencies, ultimately making funds available to reduce government expenditures, reallocate funds to more productive areas, or increase revenues.