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In 2021, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) celebrated 100 years of making the government work better for you. GAO, often called the "congressional watchdog,” is an independent, non-partisan agency that works for Congress. GAO examines how taxpayer dollars are spent and provides Congress and federal agencies with objective, non-partisan, fact-based information to help the government save money and work more efficiently.

For example, we identified about $66.2 billion in financial benefits in fiscal year 2021—for an average return on investment of $158 for every $1 invested in us for the past 5 years. We also identified 1,239 other benefits that led to program and operational improvements across the government. Most recently, GAO has been evaluating the largest response to a national emergency in U.S. history, the $4.8 trillion COVID-19 response legislation, and has made more than 200 recommendations about how to improve its effectiveness in dealing with public health issues and the economy.

To learn more, read our press release about our fiscal year 2021 performance.

Our Mission

We support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities, and help improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government. We provide Congress with timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonpartisan, nonideological, and balanced.

Download our About GAO brochure (PDF) in EnglishSpanishFrench, or Arabic.

Our Authority

The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 formed GAO to investigate all matters related to the use of public funds. The act also requires us to report on our findings and recommend ways to increase economy and efficiency in government spending.