Recent GAO reports

From the Government Accountability Office (GAO):

TROUBLED ASSET RELIEF PROGRAM: June 2009 Status of Efforts to Address Transparency and Accountability Issues, GAO-09-658 (pdf, 117pp/1.3MB), June 17, 2009

This is GAO's fifth report on TARP. Here GAO reviews:
  1. activities that had been initiated or completed under TARP as of June 12, 2009
  2. the Dept. of the Treasury's Office of Financial Stability's (OFS) hiring efforts and use of contractors
  3. TARP performance indicators
It makes 5 recommendations, including that Treasury improve disclosure of the warrant repurchase process, fully implement a communication strategy that ensures all key congressional stakeholders are kept up to date about TARP, and ensure consideration of generally consistent criteria to evaluate repurchase requests.

TROUBLED ASSET RELIEF PROGRAM: Capital Purchase Program Transactions for October 28, 2008, through May 29, 2009, and Information on Financial Agency Agreements, Contracts, Blanket Purchase Agreements, and Interagency Agreements Awarded as of June 1, 2009 (an e-supplement to GAO-09-658), (GAO-09-707SP), June 17, 2009

AVIATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE: Aircraft Emissions Expected to Grow, but Technological and Operational Improvements and Government Policies Can Help Control Emissions, GAO-09-554 (pdf, 100pp/1.25 MB), June 8, 2009

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), aviation emissions account for 2 percent of CO2 emissions and 3 percent of global warming. While fuel-efficient engines and other technological, operational, and alternative fuel improvements are expected to help reduce emissions, some technologies are in the distant future and likely to be costly. GAO presents policy options for governments that can address emissions from many sources including aircraft - market-based policies such as a cap-and-trade program, an emissions tax, or subsidies; mandating certain technologies or placing emissions limits; and increasing government R&D.

INFLUENZA PANDEMIC: Continued Focus on the Nation's Planning and Preparedness Efforts Remains Essential, GAO-09-760T (pdf, 28pp/300kB), June 3, 2009

This testimony was presented prior to the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring a global pandemic of the H1N1 (swine) flu on June 11. The testimony was based on a report GAO issued in Feb. 2009, which synthesized its earlier 11 reports and two testimonies on influenza pandemic planning. GAO found that federal agencies have acted on 13 of its 23 recommendations. "With the possibility that the H1N1 virus could return in a more virulent form in a second wave in the fall or winter, the administration and federal agencies should turn their attention to filling in the planning and preparedness gaps GAO's work has pointed out."

REAL ESTATE TAX DEDUCTION: Taxpayers Face Challenges in Determining What Qualifies; Better Information Could Improve Compliance, GAO-09-521 May 13, 2009

Every year there is a gap between federal taxes owed and paid. Real estate taxes in the U.S. are levied primarily by local governments, and taxpayers deduct those taxes on their federal income tax returns. The problem is determining what is deductible, as neither local-government tax bills nor mortgage-servicer documents identify what qualifies as deductible. The Joint Committee on Taxation has identified improved taxpayer compliance with real-estate tax deductions as a means to reduce the tax gap. To do this, GAO recommends that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) change its guidance to taxpayers, revise its auditing of the deduction, identify a cost-effective means of obtaining information on tax bill charges, and conduct outreach to local governments and others on options for helping taxpayers comply.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Broadband Deployment Plan Should Include Performance Goals and Measures to Guide Federal Investment, GAO-09-494 May 12, 2009

Of the 30 nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the U.S. ranks 15th in broadband subscribership, slipping from 4th in 2001. Universal broadband access is "a critical economic engine, a vehicle for enhanced learning and services, and a central component of 21st-century news and entertainment." Some type of broadband access reaches 90 percent of U.S. households, but to reach the remaining unserved or underserved regions is estimated to cost tens of billions of dollars and likely require federal funds because of low profit potential. GAO discusses
  1. the federal broadband deployment policy, principal federal programs, and stakeholders' views
  2. how the policies of OECD nations with higher subscribership rates compared with U.S. policy
  3. actions states have taken to encourage broadband deployment.

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