Recent GAO reports

From the Government Accountability Office (GAO):

DEFINED BENEFIT PENSIONS: Survey Results of the Nation's Largest Private Defined Benefit Plan Sponsors, GAO-09-291 (pdf, 65pp/3.8MB), March 30, 2009

GAO surveyed 94 of the nation's largest defined benefit (DB) plan sponsors for (1) changes to pension and benefit offerings, including to defined contribution (DC) plans and health offerings, over the last 10 years, and (2) possible future changes to pensions and how they might be influenced by changes in pension law and other factors. There were 44 responses. GAO noted a significant shift from DB plans to DC plans. DB plans have declined from about 92,000 in 1990 to under 29,000 today, and 28 percent of plans reported in the survey were under a plan freeze.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Observations on Federal Efforts to Adapt to a Changing Climate, GAO-09-534T (pdf, 14pp/184kB), March 25, 2009

GAO has been working with the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on adaption. This testimony summarizes (1) actions that federal, state, local, and international authorities are taking to adapt to a changing climate, (2) the challenges that federal, state, and local officials face in their efforts to adapt, and (3) relevant actions that Congress and federal agencies can take.

URBAN PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS: Congestion Relief Initiative Holds Promise; Some Improvements Needed in Selection Process, GAO-09-154 (pdf, 99pp/928kB), March 25, 2009

In 2007 the Dept. of Transportation (DOT) awarded $848 million to five cities (Miami, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle) under the Urban Partnership Agreements (UPA, Urban Partnerships) to relieve congestion. The UPA initiative encouraged the use of the 4 Ts: tolling (congestion pricing), transit, technology, and telecommuting. This report addresses (1) how well DOT communicated UPA selection criteria, (2) whether it had discretion to allocate grant funds to UPA recipients and consider congestion pricing as a priority selection factor, and (3) how it is ensuring that UPA award conditions are met and results are assessed.

U.S. POSTAL SERVICE: Escalating Financial Problems Require Major Cost Reductions to Limit Losses, GAO-09-475T (pdf, 20pp/264kB), March 25, 2009

The financial problems of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) have been widely covered in the media. In this testimony, GAO reports on USPS's deteriorating finances, with such stats as accelerating declines in mail volume (11 billion pieces) and losses ($2 billion) in the first five months of FY 2009. GAO focuses on (1) USPS's financial condition and outlook and (2) its options and actions to remain financially viable in the short and long term.

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