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Press release (excerpts): From Preparing for Biological Incidents, to Global and Domestic Threats, to Science and Tech in an Innovation Economy, GAO Focuses on a Dozen Trends Shaping Government

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) today issued a dozen trend papers outlining critical challenges facing our nation, all part of the non-partisan, fact-based agency’s new Strategic Plan for Serving the Congress and the Nation. The new plan will guide the congressional watchdog’s future efforts from 2022 to 2027, as GAO helps lawmakers oversee federal operations and address some of the most important national issues facing government and society as a whole.

“Our latest plan outlines a number of key trends, domestic and international, with significant implications for the well-being of the American people,” said Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO. “These trends include science and technology innovation and challenges in the U.S. economy, the impact of global supply chains, racial and ethnic disparities, and global and domestic security threats in an increasingly digital world,” Dodaro added. “Our hope is that greater awareness of these trends will spur the nation’s leaders to better understand the challenges facing the federal government."

Tackling these trends will be critical to ensuring the federal government is prepared for the future, said Dodaro.  “For 100 years, GAO has been at the forefront of efforts to improve government performance, striving to help make programs more efficient and effective.  In addition, today’s policymakers need forward-looking information to help them deal with evolving challenges, before they become crises. To that end, GAO established a Center for Strategic Foresight and publishes a strategic plan every four years to help prioritize its audit work and better prepare our government for future uncertainties, as well as future opportunities.”

GAO’s strategic plan presents a dozen key trends, domestic and international, that will have significant effects in the next 5 to 15 years:

National security:  Global and Domestic threats
Fiscal Sustainability and Debt
Preparing for Catastrophic Biological Incidents
Racial and Ethnic Disparities
Science, Technology, and the Innovation Economy
Security Implications for an Increasingly Digital World
Changes to How and Where We Work
Future of Global Supply Chains
Online Learning and Technology in Education
Evolving Health Technologies
Sustainable Development
Evolving Space Environment

GAO undertook extensive research to develop these trends, leveraging its own internal experts as well as consulting with experts inside and outside the federal government.  The agency expects to update its trends and identify other emerging issues in the coming years to reflect new developments.

GAO’s plan consists of two other components separate from the trend areas:

GAO’s Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives form the foundation of the agency’s plan and lay out its long-term strategies to accomplish its goals.

The plan’s Key Efforts detail the agency’s near-term priorities to provide Congress with timely and fact-based analysis of the most important issues facing the nation. Over time, we may update these key efforts, as appropriate, to reflect shifts in congressional priorities and our expected areas of work.

The Strategic Plan is available on GAO’s website at https://www.gao.gov/about/stratplanning.html. The three components of GAO’s 2022-2027 strategic plan:

Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-22-1SP
Key Efforts https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-22-2SP
12 Trends Affecting Government and Society https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-22-3SP

To provide comments regarding these reports, please contact Stephen Sanford, Managing Director, GAO Center for Strategic Foresight --  spel@gao.gov and (202) 512-4707. Center webpage: https://www.gao.gov/about/what-gao-does/audit-role/csf

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