Fiscal Year 2005 Budget Request:

U.S. General Accounting Office

GAO-04-473T: Published: Apr 22, 2004. Publicly Released: Apr 22, 2004.

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GAO exists to support the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people. In the years ahead, its support to the Congress will likely prove even more critical because of the pressures created by the nation's large and growing long-term fiscal imbalance, which is driven primarily by known demographic and rising health care trends. These pressures will require the Congress to make tough choices regarding what the government does, how it does business, and who will do the government's business in the future. GAO's work covers virtually every area in which the federal government is or may become involved, anywhere in the world. Perhaps just as importantly, GAO's work sometimes leads it to sound the alarm over problems looming just beyond the horizon--such as the nation's enormous long-term fiscal challenges--and help policymakers address these challenges in a timely and informed manner. The Comptroller General presented testimony that focused on GAO's progress during his first five years in office. He highlighted GAO's (1) fiscal year 2003 performance and results; (2) efforts to maximize its effectiveness, responsiveness, and value; and (3) budget request for fiscal year 2005 to support the Congress and serve the American people.

The funding GAO received in fiscal year 2003 allowed it to conduct work that addressed many of the difficult issues confronting the nation, including diverse and diffuse security threats, selected government transformation challenges, and the nation's long-term fiscal imbalance. Its work was also driven by changing demographic trends, which led it to focus on such areas as the quality of care in the nation's nursing homes and the risks to the government's single-employer pension insurance program. Importantly, in fiscal year 2003, GAO generated a $78 return for each $1 appropriated to the agency. With the Congress's support, GAO demonstrated that becoming world class does not require a substantial increase in the number of staff authorized, but rather maximizing the efficient and effective use of the resources available to it. During tight budget times, human capital flexibilities would allow GAO, among other things, more options to deal with mandatory pay and related costs. In keeping with the Comptroller's belief that the federal government needs to exercise a greater degree of fiscal discipline, GAO has kept its request to $486 million, an increase of only 4.9 percent over fiscal year 2004. In keeping with the Congress's intent, GAO is continuing its efforts to revamp its budget presentation to make the linkages between funding and program areas more clear. Hopefully in the future the Congress will be able to use such performance information to make tough choices on funding, thereby enabling it to avoid across-the-board reductions that penalize agencies that exercise fiscal discipline and generate high returns on investment and real results.

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