A GAO audit refers to an audit conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress to investigate and evaluate the use of public funds, assess the performance of federal programs, and provide recommendations to improve government operations and ensure accountability.
GAO audits are aimed at examining various aspects of government programs, agencies, and activities to ensure they are operating efficiently, effectively, economically, and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The scope of GAO audits is quite broad, covering a wide range of topics, including defense, healthcare, education, tax administration, and environmental protection, among others.
GAO audits can be categorized into the following types:
- Financial audits: These audits focus on the accuracy and reliability of financial statements and reports of federal agencies, assessing whether they are presented fairly and in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) or other applicable financial reporting frameworks.
- Performance audits: These audits evaluate the efficiency, effectiveness, and economy of government programs, operations, or policies, identifying opportunities for improvement, cost savings, and better service delivery.
- Compliance audits: These audits assess whether government agencies, programs, or recipients of federal funds are in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements.
- Investigative audits: These audits are conducted in response to allegations or suspicions of fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement, aiming to uncover and prevent improper activities and hold wrongdoers accountable.
The results of GAO audits are typically presented in written reports, which are submitted to Congress, relevant federal agencies, and the public. These reports include the GAO’s findings, conclusions, and recommendations for improvement, helping to inform decision-making, shape public policy, and promote transparency and accountability in the use of taxpayer dollars.