Government Accountability Office


GAO logoWashington, D.C. (January 17, 2017) – Beginning an effort to examine the nation’s fiscal heath at the start of each year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) today issued its first annual outlook on the nation’s fiscal future. The work warns of mounting debt and other challenges, urges prompt action to address those challenges, and is designed to help inform Congress and the incoming administration.  GAO encourages the development of a long-term plan that will address levels of federal spending and investments and the options to obtain needed resources.

GAO, fiscal health


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GAO Study on Recreational Fisheries Management Released

GAO LogoThe National Marine Fisheries Service Should Develop a Comprehensive Strategy to Guide Its Data Collection Efforts

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) within the Department of Commerce faces several challenges related to fisheries data collection, according to reports GAO reviewed and NMFS officials and stakeholders GAO interviewed. These challenges include collecting quality recreational fishing data that are timely for managing marine recreational fisheries and communicating with stakeholders.

Fishing, GAO

Read more: GAO Study on Recreational Fisheries Management Released

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Forest Service Trails Maintenance "Held Together by Band-Aids and Bailing Wire."

GAO report requested by Rep. Lummis outlines challenges to maintaining trails in National Forests and Wilderness Areas.

WASHINGTON - The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its report today regarding the maintenance of the Forest Service trails network in National Forests and wilderness areas.  The report (, requested in 2012 by Rep. Lummis (R-WY), Rep. Simpson (R-ID), and Rep. Moran (D-VA), outlines the immense challenges to maintaining the 158,000 miles of trails in the Forest Service trail system and wilderness areas.

According to the GAO, the Forest Service spent a cumulative total of about $194 million dollars last year, but was able to maintain to standard only about one quarter of the total miles of trails.  The trail management program is hindered by several factors, including the failure to maximize private resources and volunteer efforts to maintain trails.

Read more: Forest Service Trails Maintenance "Held Together by Band-Aids and Bailing Wire."

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Risk-Assessment Could Improve Federal Land Management

Federal Lands: Adopting a Formal, Risk-Based Approach Could Help Land Management Agencies Better Manage Their Law Enforcement Resources

Four federal agencies--the Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service in the Department of the Interior--are responsible for managing federal lands, enforcing federal laws governing the lands and their resources, and ensuring visitor safety. Illegal activities occurring on these lands have raised concerns that the four agencies are becoming less able to protect our natural and cultural resources and ensure public safety. GAO examined (1) the types of illegal activities occurring on federal lands and the effects of those activities on natural and cultural resources, the public, and agency employees; (2) how the agencies have used their law enforcement resources to respond to these illegal activities; and (3) how the agencies determine their law enforcement resource needs and distribute these resources. GAO reviewed agency documents, interviewed agency officials, and visited or contacted 26 selected agency units.

Read more: Risk-Assessment Could Improve Federal Land Management

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Energy-Water Nexus

Many Uncertainties Remain about National and Regional Effects of Increased Biofuel Production on Water Resources

Why GAO Did This Study

In response to concerns about the nation’s energy dependence on imported oil, climate change, and other issues, the federal government has encouraged the use of biofuels. Water plays a crucial role in all stages of biofuel production—from cultivation of feedstock through its conversion into biofuel. As demand for water from various sectors increases and places additional stress on already constrained supplies, the effects of expanded biofuel production may need to be considered.

Read more: Energy-Water Nexus

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