Definition of GAO

General Accounting Office; Government Accountability Office

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Last Updated

24 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“GAO.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2020.

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Financial Definition of GAO

What It Is

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigates, with congressional approval, the federal government's spending.

How It Works

The GAO started in 1921, when the Budget and Accounting Act transferred the government's auditing and accounting functions away from the Treasury Department. The head of the GAO is the comptroller general of the United States and is appointed to a 15-year term by the U.S. president. Congress gives the president a list of candidates to choose from.

The GAO is now an independent, nonpartisan agency that investigates the use of taxpayer dollars, writes reports about its findings and makes recommendations to Congress. {ia_ext|These reports and findings are available here|}.

Why It Matters

The GAO's role is to keep the federal government accountable for its spending decisions and help the government operate efficiently. To do this, it investigates an array of spending projects and provides the public and Congress with findings and recommendations. Its fiduciary duty is to American taxpayers.

Source: Investing Answers

Legal Definition of GAO

General Accounting Office

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