Comptroller General David M. Walker, head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, today released a special report, 21st Century Challenges: Reexamining the Base of the Federal Government, at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The report is intended to help the Congress in reviewing and reconsidering the base of federal spending and tax programs.
In its announcement, GAO stated that absent significant changes on the spending and/or revenue sides of the federal budget, long-term deficits will encumber a growing share of federal resources and test the capacity of current and future generations to afford both today’s and tomorrow’s commitments.
“Continuing on this unsustainable path will gradually erode, if not suddenly damage, our economy, our standard of living and, ultimately, our national security.”
GAO also stated that traditional incremental approaches to budgeting will need to give way to more fundamental and periodic reexaminations of the base of government, ultimately covering discretionary and mandatory programs as well as the revenue side of the budget.
“Having identified the major fiscal challenge facing the nation, and given our role in supporting the Congress, we believe that GAO also has an obligation to provide policymakers with support in identifying issues and options that could help to address these fiscal pressures. In this report, we build on our past and pending work to provide policy makers with a comprehensive compendium of those areas throughout government that could be considered ripe for reexamination and review.”