Bicameral, Bipartisan Committee Heads Respond to GAO’s 2019 High Risk Report

WASHINGTON — Today, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) released their 2019 High Risk List, an inventory of government operations vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.  GAO updates the High Risk List every two years at the beginning of a new Congress to focus national attention on these critical areas. 

In response to the new list, Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Ranking Member Gary Peters (D-MI), of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) and Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH), of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued the following statements:

“The goal of the High Risk report closely mirrors the mission statement of our committee: to enhance the economic and national security of America and promote more efficient, effective, and accountable government,” said Chairman Ron Johnson. “By addressing risks, we not only save taxpayer dollars, but create programs that run more efficiently and better serve the needs of the American people.” 

“Today’s report provides a roadmap for improving our federal government which can have a very real impact on Americans’ lives,” said Chairman Elijah Cummings. “If implemented correctly, this year’s recommendations would improve healthcare for veterans, protect Americans from toxic chemicals, make our food safer, and help stem the deadly tide of opioid addiction. But GAO’s recommendations can be turned into effective reforms only with cooperation and leadership from the President and the Executive Branch agencies.”

“Today’s report serves as a reminder that taxpayers deserve better from their government,” said Ranking Member Jim Jordan. “Over the past 13 years, Congressional oversight in conjunction with the High Risk List saved Americans over 350 billion dollars. While important progress has been made, the GAO continues to find billions of dollars in jeopardy across the federal government. Congress must continue robust oversight of the areas highlighted in the report to further prevent fraud, waste, and mismanagement of taxpayer dollars.”

“The High Risk List is a guide to cutting waste and saving taxpayer dollars, yet Congress and federal agencies routinely fail to effectively address many of the problems identified in the report,” said Ranking Member Gary Peters. “This pattern of waste is particularly alarming at a time when our country could reach a $1 trillion deficit this year. Taxpayers in Michigan and across the country deserve better – and we should use this report to find better ways to rein in spending and ensure we are effectively using tax dollars to address challenges ranging from cleaning up toxic PFAS chemicals and mitigating damage from climate change to strengthening cybersecurity.”

GAO assesses progress on high-risk areas using five criteria: (1) leadership commitment, (2) capacity, (3) action plan, (4) monitoring, and (5) demonstrated progress.  GAO explains that leadership commitment is the “critical element for initiating and sustaining progress” and is “needed to make progress on the other four high-risk criteria.

The GAO Comptroller General Gene Dodaro will testify at House and Senate hearings today.

Click here to read GAO’s 2019 High-Risk Report.