Fiscal Year 2004 Budget Request:

U.S. General Accounting Office

GAO-03-580T: Published: Mar 27, 2003. Publicly Released: Mar 27, 2003.

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GAO is a key source of objective information and analyses and, as such, plays a crucial role in supporting congressional decision-making and helping improve government for the benefit of the American people. This testimony focuses on GAO's (1) fiscal year 2002 performance and results, (2) efforts to maximize our effectiveness, responsiveness and value, and (3) our budget request for fiscal year 2004 to support the Congress and serve the American public.

In fiscal year 2002, GAO's work informed the national debate on a broad spectrum of issues including helping the Congress answer questions about the associated costs and program tradeoffs of the national preparedness strategy, including providing perspectives on how best to organize and manage the new Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security. GAO's efforts helped the Congress and government leaders achieve $37.7 billion in financial benefits--an $88 return on every dollar invested in GAO. The return on the public's investment in GAO extends beyond dollar savings to improvements in how the government serves its citizens. This includes a range of accomplishments that serve to improve safety, enhance security, protect privacy, and increase the effectiveness of a range of federal programs and activities. The results of our work in fiscal year 2002 were possible, in part, because of changes we have made to transform GAO in order to meet our goal of being a model federal agency and a world-class professional services organization. We had already realigned GAO's structure and resources to better serve the Congress in its legislative, oversight, appropriations, and investigative roles. Over the past year, we cultivated and fostered congressional and agency relations, better refined our strategic and annual planning and reporting processes, and enhanced our information technology infrastructure. We also continued to provide priority attention to our management challenges of human capital, information security, and physical security. We have made progress in addressing each of these challenges, but we still have work to do and plan to ask for legislation to help address some of these issues. GAO is requesting budget authority of $473 million for fiscal year 2004. Our request represents a modest 4.1 percent increase in direct appropriations, primarily for mandatory pay and uncontrollable costs. This budget will allow us to maintain current operations for serving the Congress as outlined in our strategic plan and continue initiatives to enhance our human capital, support business processes, and ensure the safety and security of GAO staff, facilities, and information systems. Approximately $4.8 million, or about 1 percent, of our request relates to several safety and security items that are included in our fiscal year 2003 supplemental request. If this supplemental request is granted, our fiscal year 2004 request could be reduced accordingly.

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