The Government Accountability Office (GAO) serves as Congress’s watchdog and plays a critical role in holding the federal government accountable to the American people. In November, the comptroller general issued the annual Performance and Accountability Report for FY2019, which found that GAO’s work, “yielded a record $214.7 billion in financial benefits — a return of about $338 for every dollar invested in GAO.”
Congress has provided $630 million in new funding for GAO — a $40 million increase. This new spending will help support the comptroller general’s efforts to modernize oversight and improve Congress’s ability to anticipate and address critical challenges.
Enhancing GAO’s science and technology capabilities complements the House of Representatives’ Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress’s bipartisan and unanimous recommendation for “reestablishing and restructuring an improved Office of Technology Assessment.” A well-resourced Government Accountability Office STAA team need not be a replacement for recreating and modernizing the Office of Technology Assessment, which many members have advocated for. In fact, both STAA and OTA could mutually support the legislative branch’s efforts to improve its oversight of the federal government and address the nation’s science and technology challenges.
It may seem counterintuitive to ask fiscal conservatives to support expanding Congress’s capabilities, especially at a time when resources are scarce and the national debt is $23 trillion. But investing in GAO will yield long-term savings and better equip the Constitution’s first branch to do its job.