Highest Rated Comments

notalawyersorry104 karma

I'm actually really glad you asked this. GAO has a reputation as a very credible source for a reason; they make sure everything is accurate before publishing a report or releasing a judgment. When you go through the checking process, known as indexing and referencing, you have to quite literally point to sources for each and every word in the report. Also, if you heard the information during an interview from an agency official and it was not in an actual document, you have to say things like, "according to agency officials," instead of just reporting the information as fact.

This process typically takes a month, minimum, because once you index all of the draft, another employee that has been trained accordingly has to go through each and every document link and reference line you provided, and check them out. I'm not just saying that the facts have to line up, they have to make sure that you are not re-wording the source information in a way that does not accurately portray said information. This can be quite difficult as a lot of the information/documents you receive are filled with jargon, and you have to write the report for the public, with more commonly used phrases. So, you would then have to prove that the term you are using in its place has the exact same meaning as the jargon term, essentially walking the referencer through the thought process.

Even once you get referencer approval, the report still has to go through an Audit Policy and Quality Assurance officer, and they check to make sure that the wording you used is acceptable and the information presented is done so in a way that GAO can get behind, without language that could be perceived as biased in any way.

So yes, it is quite a process, and I didn't even get into the audit process we go through, complete with different milestones and standard benchmarks to make sure all the stakeholders on your audit are on the same page, so you don't have any surprises at the upteenth hour. It's a lot of steps, but it really is necessary to make sure the GAO reports released are 100% up to par, which is why GAO is the gold standard in government audits. I can go into more detail about any aspect of the audit work process itself, but I didn't want to bore you :).

notalawyersorry92 karma

I wanted to add, the process is so incredibly comprehensive and your reports go through so many levels of review, which is why I can't help but laugh when people accuse GAO of bias.

Even if I had been the most biased person ever, my writing never would have gotten through our QA process. One time I tried to sneak the word "sordid" into a report, and that was flagged and removed by the QA folks; that's how serious they are about making sure the language is as fact-based and without bias.

In my last year, I tried to sneak a few other more "colorful" words into my reports just for laughs to see if I could get it through, and every single one of them got flagged and removed.

notalawyersorry75 karma

Yes, it is believe it or not. Sure people have their own political views, but it doesn't come into play in their work. It's truly—as corny as it may sound—a country before party situation.

You'd also be surprised that it's also typically a non-issue, since most of the audits are not political in nature. If the audit request that comes through from Congress has clear bias and political leanings, the audit objectives are written in a way to neutralize the language and allow for fact-based conclusions.

Edit: Forgot to add that the agency bends over backwards to make sure it is apolitical, as a whole. So much annual training on the subject.

notalawyersorry70 karma

This question wins. So, yes, it's all art deco on the inside hallways and larger areas, and they still have the original elevator doors which look pretty cool. Once you go into the actual offices/cubicle neighborhoods those are more c.1990s, but there are still original design elements interspersed throughout.

The main reason the building inside and out remains unchanged though is not for aesthetic purposes, it is to cut costs. Since GAO knows that any spending they do is under as microscope due to the nature of the work, there are a lot of things in the building that are...behind the times. (For example they kept Windows XP past the point it was no longer supported, and just started upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 when I left). GAO's budget is actually quite small when compared to other agencies, so concessions have to be made, somewhere! The nice thing is that at least it was built during a nice period of architecture versus some 70s brutalist building.

notalawyersorry57 karma

Make sure Congress continues to fund GAO. Their (GAO) budget is already incredibly small when compared to other agencies, despite the fact that for every $1 invested they save the taxpayer $124 (based on financial accomplishment reports). I would be afraid to see what the government would look like without proper oversight from GAO.

Edit: Corrected the amounts.