The Government Accountability Office (GAO)

In September 2008, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) established a partnership whereby the GAO databases formerly on GPO Access, and now on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys), are provided as permanently accessible archives. Coverage of this archive includes the GAO Reports and Comptroller General Decisions from 1993-2008 (with a few titles prior to 1993). Through this agreement GAO makes these same resources, as well as the more recent and the more historic materials, publicly accessible from their Web site. In addition to having more Government information available, this partnership also ends the duplication of content and effort to maintain multiple Web sites by the two agencies.

As an independent agency that works directly for Congress, the GAO audits agency operations, reviews and reports on Government programs, analyzes policy, investigates alleged improper activities, and issues legal decisions. These activities result in the publication of hundreds of reports and legal decisions by GAO each year. With almost all Federal agencies within reach of a GAO review, the variety of subjects covered by GAO reports is broad and of wide public interest.

GAO Reports

Reports, previously called “Blue Books,” are the primary GAO publication and, on average, GAO issues 900 reports a year. Program and other reviews are conducted at the request of members of Congress, required by law, or requested by an agency. While some reports may be classified, all non-classified reports are made publicly available. However, the release of the report may be delayed up to 30 days at the direction of the member of Congress who requested it.

A small sample of the topics covered in recent GAO reports include:

  • Implications of changing flood insurance coverage
  • Review of USAID’s efforts in Haiti
  • Issues raised by the merger of American Airlines and US Airways
  • Federal and state readiness to establish Small Business Health Options Programs

The GAO database provides access to all reports issued since 1971. The collection does include older publications dating to 1922, although the pre-1971 collection is not comprehensive. GAO assigns each report a number, such as GAO-13-568. Reports issued prior to FY2001 included the GAO office that performed the research in the numbering, such as GGD-92-97.

In addition to searching by keyword and report number, users are also able to browse by date, topic, and agency, both alphabetically and hierarchically.

GAO Comptroller General Decisions

The decisions and opinions of the Comptroller General span topics of Federal law such as appropriations, bid protests, and Federal agency rulemaking. All decisions are made public. However, if the decision contains protected information, such as Personally Identifiable Information, GAO will redact that information prior to publication. When redaction is necessary, the decision is usually published two to three weeks after it is issued.

All decisions are identified by a B-number and date. Older decisions (prior to 1995) are also identified by volume, page number, and the year the decision was issued.

GAO and GPO have a long history of working together to provide the Federal depository library community and the public access to GAO material. This successful partnership, already at the five year milestone, is a great example of that collaboration.

Partnership Showcase

Read about previously highlighted partners in our Partnership Showcase Archive.

Preservation Steward Map

preserv steward map

Locate Preservation Stewards across the country

FDLP Connection Archive

We have sunsetted the FDLP Connection with the July / August 2018 issue and will not be publishing the Connection anymore. We’ve enjoyed bringing the FDLP Connection to the community over the years! You can still view past issues. View full archive (2011-2018).