Our Independence

Security guards raising American and GAO flagsOn July 4th, Americans celebrate our country’s adoption of the Declaration of Independence, which expressed the ideals of political and individual freedom upon which our country and government were founded. We at GAO uphold these ideals as we work to support the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to maximize the federal government’s benefits to the American public.

GAO’s mission and core values are centered on providing information that is objective, fact-based, nonpartisan, nonideological, fair, and balanced. Therefore, we adhere to an additional kind of independence: All GAO employees working on audits must be capable of providing objective and impartial judgment, and maintain both independence of mind and independence in appearance.

How do GAO employees maintain independence?

GAO employees must be free from any conflicts of interest and must avoid impairments to independence, as specified by the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards. To help ensure independence, GAO employees must disclose their personal financial holdings annually. In addition, auditors must certify that they remain independent with respect to their work every two weeks.

What if there is a threat to an employee’s independence?

If a significant threat to independence arises, a safeguard will be applied, which could result in an employee’s removal from an audit, or their divestment of a stock or other financial interest that could be affected by the audit.

Can a GAO employee participate in partisan politics?

GAO employees can vote, volunteer or participate in non-partisan activities, and run for non-partisan office. However, since GAO is nonpartisan, all employees working on audits must remain nonpartisan. Even the appearance of partisanship could threaten independence.

• Questions on the content of this post? Contact Jim Lager at [email protected].
• Comments on GAO’s WatchBlog? Contact [email protected].

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