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New Report Examines GAO’s High Risk List

A new report from the IBM Center for the Business of Government underscores what can be learned about how programs make it onto the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) high-risk list, and what agencies have done to get off.

Managing Risk, Improving Results: Lessons for Improving Government Management from GAO’s High Risk List builds on several reports that the IBM Center has released concerning the topic of risk management in government. 

Being placed on the GAO's High Risk List means the agency is imperiled by waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement. Since 1990, the GAO has been tracking the worst-performing federal agencies, and that list has grown from 14 programs in the beginning to 32 by 2015.

This report looks at what changes in the high-risk list mean over time and explores:

  • what government can learn about how programs got onto GAO’s high-risk list
  • what agencies did over the years to remove their programs from the list
  • how to stay off the list from the beginning

According to the study, some areas are high risk because federal agencies don't have enough skilled personnel to manage problems, citing Energy Department, who spends 90 percent of its budget on contractors, but just 5 percent of its federal workforce manages these contracts. The study also points to poor financial management, which incurs both sky rocketing costs and extended delays.

The report also describes instances where some agency leaders pushed for their programs to be placed on the list. Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald urged that VA be put on the list, reasoning that the agency desperately needed improvement and the notoriety of being placed on this list could help by bringing attention to the problems.

Want more? Order free copies, or download of the report

Posted in General News

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