Riskiest Federal Programs Examined During House Oversight Hearing

Published: Feb 11, 2015

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today held a hearing to examine the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) 2015 High Risk Report. The Report, released every two years by the GAO, identifies federal programs that are “high risk” due to vulnerabilities stemming from waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement.

The 2015 High Risk List includes 32 program areas.  Six of the programs have appeared on the list since the GAO began issuing the High Risk Report 25 years ago.  This year, the Report includes the addition of two new program areas. View the 2015 List here.

GAO Comptroller General Gene Dodaro’s Opening Statement


IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s Remarks on the $385 Billion Tax Gap


How Does a Program Get on The List?

Each program has, at a minimum, $1 billion dollars that is determined to be “at risk” by the GAO.  Additionally, the GAO applies the following criteria to determine whether a program should be designated high risk.

·         whether the program or function is of national significance or is key to performance and accountability.

·         whether the risk involves public health or safety, service delivery, national security, national defense, economic growth, or privacy or citizens’ rights.

·         whether the risk could result in significantly impaired service, program failure, injury or loss of life, or significantly reduced economy, efficiency, or effectiveness.

·         whether corrective measures are planned or underway to resolve material control weakness.

How Does a Program Get Off the List?
GAO uses five criteria to determine whether an area is ready for removal:

·         Leadership Commitment. Demonstrated strong commitment and top leadership support.

·         Capacity. Agency has the capacity (i.e., people and resources) to resolve the risk(s).

·         Action Plan. A corrective action plan exists that defines the root cause, solutions, and provides for substantially completing corrective measures, including steps necessary to implement solutions we recommended.

·         Monitoring. A program has been instituted to monitor and independently validate the effectiveness and sustainability of corrective measures.

·         Demonstrated Progress. Ability to demonstrate progress in implementing corrective measures and in resolving the high-risk area.