Saturday, November 14, 2009

Recently from GAO

International Monetary Fund: Lending Programs Allow for Negotiations and Are Consistent with Economic Literature;
IMF-supported programs in the four countries GAO reviewed--Liberia, Zambia, Hungary, and Iceland--include different sets of objectives, targets, and conditions that reflect country circumstances, based on negotiations between the IMF staff and country officials. In postconflict Liberia, the program focuses on rebuilding capacity and contains a target for maintaining a balanced budget with no borrowing. In Zambia--a country negatively affected by the recent economic crisis--the IMF-supported program is designed to increase economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve governance. Hungary, which faced a rising risk of default, has a program that focuses on restoring investor confidence while reducing debt and expenditures. A banking and currency collapse in Iceland precipitated the IMF-supported program, which contains some controversial approaches to monetary policy and banking reform. All four countries are making progress but face challenges in implementing conditions or achieving targets in their IMF-supported programs. The macroeconomic policies in IMF-supported programs are broadly consistent with the findings of the empirical literature GAO reviewed, although this literature lacks precise guidance for setting policy targets. For low-income countries, empirical evidence generally suggests inflation is detrimental to economic growth after it exceeds a critical threshold, which is broadly consistent with the inflation targets included in the IMF-supported programs we reviewed. For middle- and high-income countries, the literature identified specific policy weaknesses in advance of crises, including high inflation, high public indebtedness, and low international reserves. These weaknesses are consistent with the policies upon which the IMF focuses in the 13 programs in middle- to high-income countries GAO reviewed.

2010 Census: Census Bureau Has Made Progress on Schedule and Operational Control Tools, but Needs to Prioritize Remaining System Requirements

Operation Iraqi Freedom: Preliminary Observations on DOD Planning for the Drawdown of U.S. Forces from Iraq;
DOD has yet to fully determine its future needs for contracted services. Second, the potential costs and other concerns of transitioning key contracts may outweigh potential benefits. Third, DOD lacks sufficient numbers of contract oversight personnel. Fourth, key decisions about the disposition of some equipment have yet to be made. Fifth, there are longstanding incompatibility issues among the information technology systems that may undermine the equipment retrograde process. And sixth, DOD lacks precise visibility over its inventory of some equipment and shipping containers.

Millennium Challenge Corporation: MCC Has Addressed a Number of Implementation Challenges, but Needs to Improve Financial Controls and Infrastructure Planning
Industry best practices and past GAO work have shown that conducting design reviews and updating cost estimates prior to contract solicitation help to ensure that projects can be successfully bid and constructed.

Bureau of Prisons: Methods for Cost Estimation Largely Reflect Best Practices, but Quantifying Risks Would Enhance Decision Making
BOP uses three general steps to estimate costs for its annual budget submission: (1) estimating cost increases to maintain service levels, such as inmate medical care and utilities; (2) projecting inmate population changes for the budget year and for several years into the future using a modeling program that incorporates data on the current inmate population and estimated incoming population and associated sentences; and (3) estimating costs to both provide additional capacity to house projected inmate population growth and implement new programs, such as activating new prisons. BOP's methods for cost estimation largely reflect best practices outlined in GAO's Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide

Troubled Asset Relief Program: Continued Stewardship Needed as Treasury Develops Strategies for Monitoring and Divesting Financial Interests in Chrysler and GM

U.S. Government Accountability Office: Performance and Accountability Report Fiscal Year 2009

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