After years of sounding the fiscal imbalance bell, Comptroller General David Walker, the head of the Government Accountability Office, has committed a to-do list to paper for the 110th Congress.In a letter dated Nov. 17, Walker outlines a number of areas his federal watchdog agency, says the newly-elected politicians should consider in getting a “jump-start” on legislative planning.

"We cannot afford to continue business as usual in Washington, given our current deficit and growing long-term fiscal challenges," Walker wrote. “Most of the federal government’s current policies, programs, functions and activities are based on conditions that existed decades ago, are not results-based and are not well aligned with 21st century realities.”

It’s hardly a new message from the comptroller general, but it is the first time he has addressed the Congress in a letter. Walker did take care to note that during the 2006 fiscal year, GAO witnesses testified at 240 hearings and provided 17 additional statements for the record.

Walker lists 36 topics for investigation and oversight hearings, many of them involving daunting political issues, such as Social Security and Medicare, immigration policy, and the costs and benefits of environmental and energy policies. The first 10 issues he targets for near-term oversight are:

  • Reducing the tax gap;
  • Addressing a number of government-wide acquisition and contracting issues;
  • Transforming the business operations of the Department of Defense;
  • Ensuring the effective integration and transformation of the Department of Homeland Security;
  • Enhancing information-sharing and improving oversight related to intelligence agencies;
  • Enhancing border security and the enforcement of existing immigration laws;
  • Ensuring the security of transportation and related funding mechanisms;
  • Strengthening efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons;
  • Ensuring transformation of the nuclear weapons complex; and,
  • Enhancing computer security and deter identity theft.

The full letter is available on the GAO Web site, at www.gao.gov/new.items/d07235r.pdf.

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