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General Accounting Office

Direct Assistance To Congress, Auditing, Accounting, Legal Services And Decisions, Claims Settlement And Debt Collection

The General Accounting Office (GAO), created by the Budget and Accounting Act, 1921 (31 U.S.C.A. 41), was vested with all powers and duties of the six auditors and the comptroller of the Treasury, as stated in the act of July 31, 1894 (28 Stat. 162), and other statutes extending back to the original Treasury Act of 1789 (1 Stat. 65). The 1921 act broadened the audit activities of the government and established new responsibilities for reporting to Congress.

The scope of the activities of the GAO was further extended by the Government Corporation Control Act (31 U.S.C.A. 841 [1945]), the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (31 U.S.C.A. 60), the Accounting and Auditing Act of 1950 (31 U.S.C.A. 65), the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 (31 U.S.C.A. 1151), the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (31 U.S.C.A. 1301), the General Accounting Office Act of 1974 (31 U.S.C.A. 52c), and other legislation.

The GAO is under the control and direction of the comptroller general of the United States and the deputy comptroller general of the United States, who are appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate for terms of 15 years.

The GAO has the following basic purposes: to assist Congress, its committees, and its members in carrying out their legislative and over-sight responsibilities, consistent with its role as an independent, nonpolitical agency in the legislative branch; to carry out legal, accounting, auditing, and claims-settlement functions with respect to federal government programs and operations as assigned by Congress; and to make recommendations that are designed to provide for more efficient and effective government operations.


General Accounting Office Website. Available online at

<www.gao.gov> (accessed November 10, 2003).

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