Exploring GAO’s High Risk List and Opportunities for Reform

Witness and Testimony Documents
Comptroller General of the United States
U.S. Government Accountability Office
February 14, 2013,

Chairman’s preview statement: The broader debate on government spending has brought into focus a very basic question that the American people are now asking themselves:  Should Washington take more?

Our Committee exists in part to ensure that hardworking taxpayers have a more efficient and effective government. The GAO’s latest High Risk List enumerates some of the government’s most egregious and long-standing failures.

By one account we lost $261 billion – or seven percent of total spending – to fraud and waste in 2012 alone. The 30 areas on this year’s list represent tremendous opportunities to save billions of dollars.

The truth is, identifying these high-risk areas isn’t good enough anymore.  Not when Washington refuses to act to reform what’s so clearly broken.

Seventeen areas on this year’s high-risk list have been on the list for more than a decade.  Six have been on since the List first began in 1990. For anyone in Washington to try and ask the American people for more while this waste and fraud is allowed to exist year-after-year is shameful.

Ask yourself, would you feel comfortable investing your hard-earned money in a government that knows exactly what’s broken, but has failed to fix it year after year?

The program integrity of Medicare and Medicaid are permanent fixtures on this high-risk list.  Both are complex programs that are highly susceptible to billions of dollars in waste.  Improper payments for both programs totaled just under $50 billion for fiscal year 2012 according to the Administration.

When money is wasted, it’s the people who rely on the services the most that really pay the price. Incremental progress isn’t enough because real people are being hurt by the waste and fraud that Washington politicians have allowed to continue.

Wasteful spending has been a matter of longstanding bipartisan concern to this Committee, and I look forward to hearing from Comptroller General Dodaro about the sources of these problems so that we can work together to address them.

We must work diligently to aggressively push this government to reform what is broken so that taxpayer dollars are better-spent and not left vulnerable to waste and fraud.