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GAO Cutbacks Won’t Include Layoffs, Closures

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Government Accountability Office head Gene Dodaro announced today that the agency would not lay off employees to deal with a fiscal 2012 budget cut.

Staffers also will miss the support from contractors whose positions will be eliminated, he said, as they will miss the resources held within the GAO's technical and law libraries that are slated to close to save money.

"We're going to be challenged in the next few years in terms of achieving efficiencies in our work and providing essential information with fewer staff, fewer analysts, fewer auditors," La Due Lake said.

He added that the one-year suspension of the Student Loan Repayment Program could hit younger and newer GAO employees hard. The union had initially recommended to management that it "temporarily [reduce] the scope" of this program as a way to achieve cost-savings without layoffs.

Often referred to as the Congressional watchdog, the GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency responsible for holding the federal government accountable in its operations and use of taxpayer dollars.

Under the legislative branch spending bill for fiscal 2012 passed by the House in July, the GAO's budget would be slashed by 6 percent from fiscal 2011. The Senate Appropriations Committee endorsed its own spending measure in September that slated the agency for a 7.6 percent reduction from the previous fiscal year.

Both chambers have yet to agree on a top-line number, but agency officials decided to act in advance of such an agreement.

In the meantime, several Congressional lawmakers have been lobbying senior appropriators to reconsider their conservative allocation.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Wednesday that giving the GAO a larger funding level was a "wise investment," as the agency produces reports that help the government save money.

"In cutting its budget, we'll be biting our nose to spite our face," she said.

John Hart, a spokesman for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who has also fought hard against GAO cuts, agreed.

"Instead of slashing spending for GAO, the committee should be focused on cutting the wasteful spending identified by GAO," Hart said.

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