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Government Accountability Office

Formerly known as the General Accounting Office, the GAO changed its name in July 2004 to the Government Accountability Office. It is the investigative arm of Congress, serving both Republican and Democratic members. The GAO evaluates federal programs, audits federal expenditures, issues legal opinions and makes recommendations for improved efficiency. The head of GAO is known as the comptroller general.

In addition to offering materials sorted according to a variety of featured issues, the GAO’s website compiles congressional reports and testimony. A helpful page for newcomers to the site offers introductions to the GAO and a list of the “Top 10” GAO publications of the previous month.

Comments: GAO’s reports are thorough and authoritative, and they often provide excellent summaries of federal programs. Users should be cautious of reports responding to individual members of Congress, who sometimes tailor their questions to bring forth answers that support their side of a policy debate.