The latest biennial report, released Tuesday, removed two programs from the list of 30 – the Defense Department’s handling of personnel security clearances and the 2010 Census.
“The lesson learned out of both of these areas that have come off the list is high-level management attention by executive branch officials at very senior levels and sustained congressional oversight have paid off,” said GAO’s Comptroller General Gene Dodaro in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER.
Although some items have been on the list for a long time, Dodaro said progress has been “significant” in almost all of the areas.
GAO added one program this year – the Interior Department’s handling of federal gas and oil resources. The decision to add Interior to the high-risk list was based on years of oversight by GAO. In the past two years, the watchdog agency issued 14 reports and 45 recommendations for Interior, Dodaro said.
Interior is also undertaking “inherent risk” with a major reorganization – creating two new bureaus to replace the former Minerals Management Service that oversaw offshore oil drilling, among other things.
“There are many open questions if Interior will be able to carry out this huge reorganization while continuing to maintain their focus on their normal mission activities, especially in a constrained resource environment,” Dodaro said.
Dodaro also said more money is not the answer to get off the list. Programs have been on the list through good budget times and bad.
“It’s not always directly related to the amount of money, but it is directly related to the amount of management attention and commitment and follow-through to measure progress and ensure the problems are resolved,” he said.