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Background about GAO
- GAO is an agency of Congress, but its independence is a unique feature compared to other agencies.
- GAO generally conducts work requested by a Chairman or Ranking Minority Member of a congressional committee or subcommittee, or responds to requests mandated by legislation. It may also initiate work under Comptroller General Authority.
- GAO plans and conducts studies of multi-agency programs and the internal operations of individual agencies. Subject areas include the entire spectrum of federal activities, including health care, housing and urban development, tax policy and administration, national security and international relations, financial management, and natural resources and the environment.
GAO Work Environment
- Analysts typically work as part of a team comprised of three to five staff or more, and are supervised by a more senior analyst.
- Studies last on average about 6 months—some longer, some shorter
- Indexing and referencing products is a key part of the process—similar to “sourcing” a research paper but more rigorous.
- Competencies used in GAO work: Critical thinking, Quantitative and qualitative data analysis, Effective communication—written and oral, Team work, Collaboration both within GAO, Congressional clients, and agency officials