Government Accountability Office Online Archive Dates Back to 1971

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) prepares reports related to government operations and expenditures.  Established in 1921 under the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, the General Accounting Office was renamed the Government Accountability Office in 2004.  The GAO is headquartered in Washington, DC with 11 offices nationwide Reports & Testimonies

The GAO currently releases approximately 900 publications annually.  The reports, also called "blue books," typically audit agency operations and government programs, investigate allegations of illegal activity, or provide policy analysis.  The GAO produces many of its reports at the request of members of Congress or Congressional committees, and sometimes presents its findings in Congressional testimony.  Some reports are mandated by law or self-initiated by the GAO.

More than 46,000 reports are available online, including all reports published since 1971 and a limited number of reports dating back to 1922.  This database can be sorted by date, topic or agency, and searched by keyword or report number at the top right corner of every page on the GAO's web site.  Except for the older reports, there are links to an HTML summary of each report, a PDF highlights page (explaining why the study was undertaken, an overview of findings, and the GAO's resultant recommendation), and copies of the full report in HTML, PDF and text formats.

Note the following when searching the database:

  • Access to reports that were requested by Congress may be restricted for 30 days before they are publicly released.
  • Upon release, reports are usually available online within 24 hours.
  • Report numbers of documents produced before October 2000 begin with the GAO division that wrote the analysis. Those of documents published after October 2000 all begin with "GAO."

The GAO has also created several topic collections, which include all GAO materials related to a specific topic (i.e. Food Issues, Immigration, U.S. Elections, etc.).

Legal Decisions

The GAO Comptroller General and the Office of the General Counsel are responsible for issuing legal decisions and opinions on appropriations law.  A database of more than 120,000 decisions and opinions dating back to the 1890s is available on the GAO's website.  These decisions can be searched by keyword or phrase, date range, agency and topic, and sorted alphabetically, by relevance, or by date.

The Comptroller General is also responsible for handling bid protests and other federal law issues, as well as working with Congress regarding federal vacancies and proposed rules.  These records are also widely available on the GAO's web site:

Staying Updated with GAO Records

For the latest information on GAO's online records, subscribe to topics of interest to receive e-mail updates or follow its RSS feeds, Twitter feed or YouTube Channel.