NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

U.S. Comptroller General Highlights Federal Government Woes

January 18, 2001

In a report yesterday to President-elect George W. Bush and Congress, the nation's comptroller general took the lid off the federal government and revealed a picture of weak financial management and a system which could not account for how taxpayers' money is being spent.

The nation's top auditor, David M. Walker -- who is head of the General Accounting Office -- warned that federal employees lack many of the skills necessary to run multibillion-dollar programs.

  • He found serious weaknesses in accounting and financial management throughout the government -- from the Department of Defense to the Internal Revenue Service, the Forest Service to the Federal Aviation Administration.
  • The Pentagon's financial statements are in such poor condition they cannot be audited and most other agencies do not comply with federal accounting standards.
  • Federal agencies are poorly equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century because their employees lack necessary skills in information technology, science, economics and management.
  • The GAO described 22 "high-risk areas" in which the government was vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.

Walker says the government has failed to retain or recruit skilled employees. This has left government agencies inadequately equipped to deal with a whole panoply of problems.

So much for the Clinton-Gore administration's "reinvention of government," critics say.

Source: Robert Pear, "Financial Problems in Government Are Rife, Nation's Top Auditor Says," New York Times, January 18, 2001; GAO's Performance and Accountability Series and High Risk Update 2001, GAO-01-241 to GAO-01-263, January 17, 2001, General Accounting Office.

For GAO reports:


Browse more articles on Government Issues