Strategic Planning & Performance

We produce a strategic plan, a performance plan, and an annual performance and accountability report with information comparable to that reported by executive-branch agencies. View all of our prior year reports, and read more about current reports below.

GAO’s Strategic Plan, 2018-2023

Every 4 years, GAO publishes a strategic plan for serving the Congress that considers the full scope of operations of the federal government, as well as emerging and future trends that may affect the government and society as a whole. This plan, presented in the three documents outlined below, describes our goals and strategies to support the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to ultimately improve the safety, security, and well-being of the American people.

We invite you to explore the three components of GAO’s 2018-2023 strategic plan:

  1. Our Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives form the foundation of the plan and outline our long-term strategies and goals.
  2. Our plan’s Key Efforts detail the near-term priorities and substantial bodies of work we believe will contribute to the accomplishment of our performance goals. Over time, we may update these key efforts, as appropriate, to reflect shifts in congressional priorities and our expected areas of work.
  3. Trends Affecting Government and Society provide the strategic context for our plan through an exploration of eight trends having a major impact on the nation and its government. This includes emerging issues in global and national security, the federal government’s fiscal condition, demographics, science and technology, and preparing the workforce of the future. Foresight tools like trend analysis are essential to help inform our decision making and long-term planning to serve the Congress.

Performance Plan

GAO's annual performance plan covers activities for each of our strategic goals and is included with our budget submission each year.

In the spirit of the Government Performance and Results Act, our annual performance plan informs the Congress and the American people about what we expect to accomplish on their behalf in the coming fiscal year. It sets forth our plan to make progress toward achieving our strategic goals for serving the Congress and the American people. This framework not only shows the relationship between our strategic goals and strategic objectives, but also show major themes that could potentially affect our work.

Performance and Accountability Report

GAO's Performance and Accountability Report describes the agency's performance measures, results, and accountability processes for the fiscal year. Our 2021 work yielded about $66.2 billion in financial benefits for the federal government —for an average return on investment of $158 for every $1 invested in us for the past 5 years. In assessing our performance, we compare actual results against the targets and goals that were set in our annual performance plan and performance budget to help carry out our strategic plan.

View 2021 Report

Table: Agency-wide Summary of Annual Measures and Targets

not met
financial benefits (dollars in billions) $63.4 $73.9 $75.1 $214.7e $77.6 $50.0 $66.2 Met $50.0
Other benefits 1,234 1,280 1,294 1,418 1,332 1,200 1,239 Met 1,200
Past recommendations implemented 73% 76% 77% 77% 77% 80% 76% Not Met 80%
New products with recommendations 68% 63% 64% 64% 64% 60% 58% Not Met 60%
Testimonies 119a 99 98 97 59 100 67 Not Met 100
Timeliness 94% 96% 97% 95% 93% 90% 97% Met 90%
New hire rate 81% 83% 85% 89% 76% 80% 80% Met 80%
Retention rate
With retirements 93% 94% 94% 94% 95% 92% 96% Met 92%
Without retirements 96% 97% 97% 96% 97% 96% 98% Met 96%
Staff development N/Ab N/Ab N/Ab N/Ab 81% 80% 82% Met 80%
Staff utilization N/Ab N/Ab N/Ab N/Ab 85% 76% 85% Met 80%
Effective leadership by supervisors N/Ab N/Ab N/Ab N/Ab 90% 82% 91% Met 82%
N/Ab N/Ab N/Ab N/Ab 86% 76% 87% Met 80%
Internal operations
Help get job done N/Ac,d 84% 85% 82% 83% 80% 81% Met 80%
Quality of work life N/Ac,d 82% 82% 82% 86% 80% 86% Met 80%
IT Tools N/Ac,d 74% 73% 56% 69% 80% 56% Not met 80%

Note: Information explaining all of the measures included in this table appears in the Appendix II, Data Quality.
a In 2016, we modified our methodology for counting testimonies to include hearings where two separate statements are delivered on different aspects of GAO’s work (see Appendix II).
b In 2020, we revised our Employee Feedback Survey (now Employee Experience Survey), based on agency-wide feedback. These revisions included the portions used to assess Staff Development, Staff Utilization, Effective Leadership by Supervisors (now Experience with Supervisors), and Organizational Climate. The nature and extent of these revisions requires establishing a new trend baseline for these four People Measures.
c We conducted the survey for these measures on a calendar year basis in 2016, and, therefore, do not have fiscal year-end results to report—denoted by N/A. For fiscal years 2017- 2021, the survey was conducted on a fiscal year basis.
d The targets for all three categories in 2016 were 80 percent.
e The $214.7 billion in financial benefits we achieved in fiscal year 2019 was due primarily to one large financial benefit of $136.1 billion for contributing to reductions in DOD’s procurement costs for weapon systems acquisitions.

Performance and Accountability Reports

Peer Reviews

Every 3 years, independent organizations perform a peer review of GAO’s system of quality control for work done under generally accepted government auditing standards to determine whether it is suitably designed and operating effectively. For the most recent review, the peer review team commented on the very high quality of the GAO work they examined, noting various institutional strengths that enable GAO to provide Congress and the public with reliable and objective information.

The peer review includes a review of audit documentation, tests of functional areas, and staff interviews. The peer reviewers brief the Executive Committee, management, and staff members. Beginning with the 2010 peer review, an international team from supreme audit institutions performs the peer review of both performance and financial audits. Previously, the review of performance audits was conducted separately from the review of financial audits (an international certified public accounting firm conducted the peer review of financial audit engagements).