Federal agency says Congress needs to put U.S. on path toward financial stability

The Government Accountability Office said Thursday that it was unable to provide an opinion on the reliability of the federal government’s consolidated financial statements.

"This is especially troubling given the significant domestic and international challenges facing our government, which place a premium on the need for accountability and transparency," U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said. "The difficulty in providing an opinion is due to long-standing financial management problems at the Department of Defense, inadequate accounting for transactions between government agencies, and weaknesses in the process for preparing the statements."

Pandemic relief programs added to the problems, he said.

"The Small Business Administration had continuing financial management deficiencies in their pandemic relief programs, the Department of Education could not adequately support the costs of its loan programs, and improper payments totaling $247 billion were reported across several federal agencies and programs," he said in a statement.

"It’s essential that the federal government has complete and accurate financial information, both across the government and within each agency, to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible," Dodaro said. "While the federal government has made significant strides in improving its financial management, this year’s audit report emphasizes the need for the government to address these serious financial management weaknesses and for Congress to develop a plan to put the government on a path toward long-term fiscal sustainability."

The federal government's COVID-19 related appropriations totaled $4.5 trillion. It had spent $4 trillion, as of Sept. 30, 2022. Those programs have been hampered by widespread fraud. 

Since 2017, GAO has said that Congress should "develop a plan to put the government on a path toward long-term fiscal sustainability with well-designed fiscal rules and targets that can help manage debt by controlling factors such as spending and revenue."

"Further, GAO suggests that Congress consider alternative approaches to the current debt limit as part of any long-term fiscal plan," according to a news release.

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