This report from NPR is about a watchdog report that says that Trump broke the law when he froze Ukranian funds. The White House says it was legal.

My question is: Who is the federal watchdog that issued the report? Basically, does this actually have weight to it? Or, is it just another partisan report?

  • 1
    Comments deleted. The question is asking about who the Government Accountability Office is. The implications for the Trump impeachment are a completely different question. – Philipp Jan 21 '20 at 12:55

No it wasn't "just another partisan report", the report came from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). They are a non-partisan factual resource body, completely independent of partisan politics. They are pretty much the gold standard for independent legal and policy analysis.

Their duty is much like that of an independent auditing firm which is brought in to examine company practices and report back on compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the "congressional watchdog," GAO examines how taxpayer dollars are spent and provides Congress and federal agencies with objective, reliable information to help the government save money and work more efficiently.

GAO website

The leadership structure of the GAO is pretty much insulated from partisan politics, even when one party or the other had dominant control of the bodies of government. Members of both parties from both houses, in concert, determine nominees for the top position, regardless of majority/control, and the appointment is of such a length, with no possibility of reappointment, that political considerations while in office are minimized. -

The Comptroller General of the United States heads the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an agency within the legislative branch of the federal government. The Comptroller General is appointed by the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the Senate. When a vacancy occurs in the office of the Comptroller General, the Congress establishes a bipartisan, bicameral commission to recommend individuals to the President. The Comptroller General’s term of office is set statutorily at 15 years and he is not eligible for reappointment.

As GAO’s chief executive officer, the Comptroller General has overall responsibility for the operations of the agency. The Comptroller General works in a non-partisan and non-ideological manner with congressional clients and external parties. GAO supports the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and in helping to improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people. The agency carries out audit, evaluative, and investigative assignments and provides legal analyses to the Congress. GAO performs work at the request of the Congress and under the Comptroller General’s authority. The agency conveys the results of its reviews through written products and through testimony to the Congress. GAO also issues legal decisions on matters such as disputes involving the awarding of government contracts. In addition to serving as the chief accountability officer for the federal government, the Comptroller General issues Government Auditing Standards and participates in audit-related international forums.

GAO’s planning and management framework is based on strategic goals, strategic objectives, performance goals, and key efforts. The Comptroller General sets the tone at the top of the agency and leads by example. Other duties include explaining the importance of quality, professional standards, ethical conduct, character, and integrity through the issuance of quality assurance measures. In addition, communication is a key part of the role, through external presentations, internal meetings and forums, question and answer sessions and chats, agency newsletters and other mechanisms. The Comptroller General ensures that GAO’s employees work efficiently and effectively within an appropriate organizational structure. The Comptroller General’s direct reports are the Chief Operating Officer, the General Counsel, and the Chief Administrative Officer/Chief Financial Officer. Along with the Comptroller General, these officials comprise GAO’s Executive Committee.

GAO.gov: Comptroller General

  • 21
    For the curious, the current Comptroller General is just over 9 years into his 15 year term. (He took office in December of 2010). – Bobson Jan 16 '20 at 23:39
  • 2
    This answer starts with "No", in apparent reference to the question "Does this actually have any weight to it?", but the rest of the answer seems to imply that it does carry weight as the GAO is well respected and non-partisan. – Cain Jan 17 '20 at 16:24
  • 3
    @Cain the initial answer was written as a response to "is this a partisan report" – GammaGames Jan 17 '20 at 16:31
  • 2
    @TylerH: The policy about not invalidating the answers is IMHO about not invalidating the major points, e.g. by folding in those fixes and basically turning it into a new question for a debugging question. If the question is significantly improved by removing some fluff or rephrasing the way it asks something, minor wording edits to the answer(s) can and should be made to match. Here the OP re-added that one phrase to the question, which I think is the best solution because it's gets to the heart of what's being asked and the motivation for asking. – Peter Cordes Jan 18 '20 at 7:31
  • 3
    Perhaps the better question rather than "does it have any weight" is whether the GAO has any teeth i.e. is the report just a report, or does a damning report bring real and certain consequences to those guilty of any cited criminal acts? – Anthony X Jan 18 '20 at 23:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .