Serious material weaknesses continue to plague the U.S. government's financial systems, recordkeeping and reporting, according to a newly released report.

The Government Accountability Office said that for the eleventh year in a row, it was prevented from expressing an opinion on the U.S. government's consolidated financial statements because of these weaknesses.

However, David M. Walker, comptroller general of the U.S. and head of the GAO, did acknowledge that the government has made some headway. This year, the GAO was able to give an unqualified opinion on the 2007 Statement of Social Insurance, which covers mammoth government programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Despite that improvement, Walker noted that serious financial management problems remain at the Defense Department, as well as in accounting for and reconciling intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies, and in the federal government's process for preparing consolidated financial statements.

"If the federal government was a private corporation and the same report came out this morning, our stock would be dropping and there would be talk about whether the company's management and directors needed a major shake-up," said Walker.

The federal government's fiscal exposures totaled approximately $53 trillion as of Sept. 30, 2007, up more than $2 trillion from Sept. 30, 2006, and more than $32 trillion from Sept. 30, 2000.

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