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FCW : July 15, 2014
20 July 15, 2014 FCW.COM Following are edited excerpts from an FCW interview with Gene Dodaro, comptroller general and head of the Gov- ernment Accountability Of ce. A native of Pennsylvania, he joined GAO after graduating from Lycoming College in 1973 with a degree in accounting, and he has spent his entire professional career at GAO. He was GAO s chief operating of cer for nine years before he became acting comptroller general in March 2008; the Senate made his appointment per- manent in Decem- ber 2010. How has your current work been affected by the fact that you spent many years as a GAO auditor and manager? I started as an entry-level audi- tor. Typically, comptroller gener- als came from the outside. My background gives me big advan- tages. I ve seen the agencies. I know their people and pro- cesses. I have done all types of audits.... I have testi ed a lot to Congress. Members know me. Has GAO's work become more dif cult because of the divided party control of Congress? Our procedures permit us to operate with our protocols regardless of who is in control. With our strategies, we plan our outreach to Congress. Close to 60 percent of the requests that we receive have bipartisan addressees. I also regularly meet with the chairmen and rank- ing minority members of most House and Senate committees. I initiate the meetings to get feed- back on our work. Describe the different kinds of reviews of federal activities. Oversight can take a lot of dif- ferent forms. Are programs achieving their objectives? There are questions about what the agencies are doing and not doing. Our work can be audits or looking at more speci c problems. We do a small number of criminal investiga- tions, which we refer to inspec- tors general or the Justice Department.There is no partisan view of oversight. Both parties want government to operate properly. How do you respond to con- gressional criticism that many agencies have not implemented GAO's recommendations to x their programs? About 80 percent of our recom- mendations have been imple- mented over a four-year period. Many of the gures that show lower compliance have been from a shorter period. With our annual report on reducing frag- mentation, overlap and duplica- tion in programs, we may have less success in that area because it s new. But the results are con- sistent with what we have done in the past. Q&A with Gene Dodaro Similar dynamics had been on dis- play a few weeks earlier when Comp- troller General Gene Dodaro, who leads the nearly 3,000 employees of GAO, provided an overview of agency activities to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The typically stern taskmaster Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) praised the panel of GAO of cials and said the agency was making a difference in trying to uncover inef ciencies at federal agen- cies and save taxpayer money. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) added to the lovefest when he told Dodaro that perhaps Congress should give GAO more power to ensure that federal agencies comply with its reports. "It doesn t seem that [GAO] has a ham- mer," Mica said. 'Fair and balanced' GAO might be the only federal agen- cy that welcomes its more than 100 annual appearances at congressional hearings. The close relationships that its managers and top program analysts share with members of Congress and their aides are no accident. GAO of - cials spend countless hours in private meetings and communications with their Capitol Hill counterparts to share information and seek guidance on their inquiries. When a committee launches a high- pro le investigation of government mismanagement, members often work hand-in-glove with GAO. In recent months, teams of auditors and other technical analysts have worked with Congress to spotlight the potentially criminal inef ciencies at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and the problems with the Obama administra- tion s botched launch of the Health- Care.gov website. Indeed, GAO, with its large headquarters building 10 blocks from the Capitol, is an integral part of the legislative branch. The more challenging part of GAO s work involves its dealings with execu- GAO
June 15, 2014
July 30, 2014