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General Accounting Office

Direct Assistance To Congress

The GAO directly assists Congress and its committees, members, and officers upon request. This assistance can come in any of the forms described in the following paragraphs.

Legislation may be enacted to direct the GAO to examine a specific matter; special audits, surveys, and reviews may be performed for the committees, members, or officers of Congress; professional staff members may be assigned to assist committees in conducting studies and investigations; the comptroller general or his or her representatives may testify before committees on matters considered to be within the special competence of the GAO; and committees or members may request comments on, or assistance in, drafting proposed legislation or other advice in legal and legislative matters. Further, the GAO responds to numerous requests from congressional sources for information relating to, or resulting from, its work, and it provides advice on congressional, administrative, and financial operations.

The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 specified numerous additional ways in which the GAO is to assist Congress: (1) provide information, services, facilities, and personnel (as mutually agreed) to the CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE; (2) assist congressional committees in developing statements of legislative objectives and goals and methods for assessing and reporting actual program performance; (3) assist such committees in analyzing and assessing federal agency program reviews and evaluation studies; (4) develop and recommend methods for review and evaluation of government programs; (5) conduct a continuing program to identify needs of committees and members of Congress for fiscal, budgetary, and program-related information; (6) assist congressional committees in developing their information needs; (7) monitor recurring reporting requirements of the Congress; (8) develop, in cooperation with the Congressional Budget Office, the Treasury, and the OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET, an upto-date inventory and directory of sources and information systems for fiscal, budgetary, and program-related information; (9) help committees and members to obtain information from such sources and to appraise and analyze it; (10) develop, with the Congressional Budget Office, a central file of data and information to meet recurring requirements of Congress for fiscal, budgetary, and program-related information; (11) review and report to Congress on deferrals and rescissions of budget authority proposed by the president; and (12) bring suit, where necessary, to ensure the availability for obligation of budget authority.

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