After Sequestration, A Leaner Watchdog

By Covering Business     March 5, 2013

When Congress failed to reach a budget agreement by March, it triggered broad, automatic cuts in federal spending that will soon force the government agencies to slash staff and services.

Veteran journalists looking to size up the impact of the spending cuts probably paid a visit to the website of the Government Accountability Office, which has been publishing reports on the effects of budget delays and government shutdowns, not to mention actual legislation, for the last 90 years.

The GAO’s goal is not to critique, but to provide Congress with helpful information to inform its decisions. In the last ten years, the GAO estimates its advice has effectively saved the country a half a trillion dollars.

The GAO is an early stop for any reporter looking to get a handle on a significant policy change or congressional proposal. It is also a government agency. So when the GAO released a report on Feb. 26 detailing how the sequestration cuts would impact its own ability to keep tabs on the government, it was merely doing its job.

Here’s what the agency found.

• The GAO’s budget for 2013 of $515 million is now scheduled to be cut by $27 million.

• The GAO will have to cut 100 employees from its payrolls, leaving a workforce of 2,875. In 2010, the GAO had a staff of 3,347, but the agency trimmed its payrolls to comply with new budget limitations. The latest cuts will also force the agency to scale back benefits, including performance-based bonuses, and weigh on its ability to hire.

• The staff reduction will negatively effect the agency’s ability to find cost savings in proposed government regulation or legislation.

Read the full report here.
Read the highlights here.

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