Recent GAO reports

From the Government Accountability Office (GAO):

STATE AND LOCAL FISCAL CHALLENGES: Rising Health Care Costs Drive Long-term and Immediate Pressures, GAO-09-210T (pdf, 16pp/356kB), Nov. 19, 2008

GAO's statement addresses three key points:
  • State and local governments' long-term fiscal challenges
  • Rapidly rising health care costs which drive long-term fiscal difficulties
  • Considerations involved in targeting supplemental funds to states through Medicaid during economic downturns:
    • delivering assistance as soon as needed
    • targeting assistance according to the extent of each state's downturn
    • temporarily increasing federal funding so that it turns off when states' economic circumstances improve
    • triggering so starting and ending points of assistance respond to indicators of economic distress

CONFIRMATION OF POLITICAL APPOINTEES: Eliciting Nominees' Views on Management Challenges within Agencies and across Government, GAO-09-194 (pdf, 155pp/1.13MB), Nov. 17, 2008

This report contains 35 appendixes, one for each of 28 major executive departments and agencies, and seven major government management areas. Each appendix lists key issues needing attention and a series of questions that Senate committees can use to assess nominees of the incoming administration in confirmation hearings.

Energy Efficiency: Potential Fuel Savings Generated by a National Speed Limit Would Be Influenced by Many Other Factors, GAO-09-153R (pdf, 10pp/304kB), Nov. 7, 2008

The report draws two conclusions:
  • Reducing a vehicle's speed can potentially increase its fuel economy, depending on the vehicle's characteristics. Factors that enhance fuel economy: engine efficiency (e.g., fuel injection), electronic and computer controls, more efficient transmissions, and hybrid technology. Factors that decrease fuel economy: increases in vehicle weight, performance, and accessory loads.
  • A reduced speed limit is only one of many factors that could affect total fuel use. Other factors include: drivers' compliance with a reduced speed limit, congestion in urban areas, road and weather conditions, driver behavior (driving less, buying fuel-efficient vehicles, aggressive driving), proper vehicle maintenance.

The Nation's Long-Term Fiscal Outlook: September 2008 Update, GAO-09-94R (pdf, 15pp/328kB), Nov. 6, 2008

GAO uses two fiscal simulations of what might happen to federal deficits and debt levels under varying assumptions. "Baseline Extended" follows the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) September baseline estimates for 10 years and holds revenue and spending constant. The "Alternative" simulation is based on historical trends and recent policy preferences. GAO bases its simulations on Social Security and Medicare Trustees' projections and CBO's Medicaid projections. According to GAO, "Under either set of projections, the long-term outlook is unsustainable."

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