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By Arne Christensen Targeted News Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 -- The Government Accountability Office has released a biannual report detailing 30 high-risk areas facing the federal government, including two new risk areas, climate change risks and gaps in weather satellite data. Climate change risks included potential damage to infrastructure, losses for the National Flood Insurance Program, and greater expenses for emergency aid following natural disasters. GAO called for "a government wide strategic approach with strong leadership to manage related risks" from climate change. GAO added that gaps in "environmental satellite data beginning as early as 2014 and lasting as long as 53 months have led to concerns" of less accurate and less timely weather forecasts and warnings of severe weather events. The report was sent to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., and committee ranking member Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrel E. Issa, R-Calif., and committee ranking member Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md.
GAO also removed high-risk designation for two areas on its February 2011 high-risk list, including management of interagency contracting and modernizing business systems at the Internal Revenue Service. Interagency contracting has improved "because of continued progress by agencies in addressing identified deficiencies, the establishment of additional management controls, the creation of a policy framework for setting up new interagency contracts, and steps taken to address the need for better data on these contracts." Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the U.S. and GAO head, wrote that the IRS has adopted a tax processing system that "enhanced tax administration and improved service by enabling faster refunds for more taxpayers, allowing more timely account updates, and faster issuance of taxpayer notices."
GAO also noted significant progress in address problems with three other high risk areas: management of federal oil and gas resources, strengthening Department of Homeland Security management functions, and improving the Energy Department's contract management at the National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Environmental Management. Progress has also been made in the vast majority of the 25 remaining high risk areas, which GAO credited to "the combined efforts of the Congress through oversight and legislation, the Office of Management and Budget through its leadership and coordination, and the agencies through their efforts to take corrective actions to address longstanding problems and implement related GAO recommendations."
The 25 remaining high risk areas include: Modernizing the U.S. Financial Regulatory System and Federal Role in Housing Finance; Restructuring the U.S. Postal Service to Achieve Sustainable Financial Viability; Funding the Nation's Surface Transportation System; Strategic Human Capital Management; Managing Federal Real Property; Department of Defense (DOD) Approach to Business Transformation; DOD Business Systems Modernization; DOD Support Infrastructure Management; DOD Financial Management; DOD Supply Chain Management; DOD Weapon Systems Acquisition; Establishing Effective Mechanisms for Sharing and Managing Terrorism-Related Information to Protect the Homeland; Protecting the Federal Government's Information Systems and the Nation's Cyber Critical Infrastructures; Ensuring the Effective Protection of Technologies Critical to U.S. National Security Interests; Revamping Federal Oversight of Food Safety; Protecting Public Health through Enhanced Oversight of Medical Products; Transforming EPA's Processes for Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals; DOD Contract Management; NASA Acquisition Management; Enforcement of Tax Laws; Improving and Modernizing Federal Disability Programs; Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Insurance Programs; Medicare Program; Medicaid Program; National Flood Insurance Program.
GAO's press release for the report is available at http://www.gao.gov/press/high_risk_additions_2013feb14.htm. A summary of the report is available at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-283, and the full report is available at http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/652133.pdf
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