WASHINGTON (11/7/08)—Under an authority granted in 2000 but unused until the completion of the 2008 presidential election, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) launched a new “Transition Website,” which features as its centerpiece a list of the top 13 urgent issues facing President-elect Barack Obama. “Oversight of Financial Institutions and Markets” is featured prominently on the list. The website is the result amendments to the Presidential Transition Act of 2000, which included GAO as a resource to incoming administrations, specifically identifying GAO to serve as a source of briefings and other materials. The GAO is the research arm of the U.S. Congress and federal lawmakers will likely be reviewing the site carefully as information is posted. GAO Acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said in a release, “With the serious challenges related to financial markets and the economy, the financial crisis facing the nation, two wars under way, and the first transition since 9/11 and the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, this is absolutely a unique time.” He said GAO has combed through all its recent work to “help address urgent challenges facing the nation now, to assist new appointees in every agency zero in on the challenges of that particular agency, and to help identify areas with the potential to save the nation billions of dollars.” Regarding financial institutions and markets, the GAO website notes, “The global economy and financial markets are coping with a crisis that started with a rise in foreclosures and defaults in the subprime mortgage market that quickly afflicted credit markets globally.” It also refers to passage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and creation of the Troubled Asset Relief Program “in an attempt to stabilize the financial system and restore the functioning of credit markets.” GAO goes on to identify “a number of challenges that the new administration and the Congress will have to immediately confront, including:
* Effectively managing and evaluating efforts initiated by the Office of Financial Stability; * Maintaining the safety and soundness of the nation's banking system; * Reforming the U.S. financial regulatory system to reflect 21st century realities: and * Restoring the functioning of mortgage markets.
“The new Web site is designed to be easy to navigate and to find information since this is a period when appointees have limited time to learn about their new positions and the challenges that come with making a successful transition from campaigning to governing,” Dodaro said. The complete urgent issues list is as follows:
* Caring for Servicemembers; * Defense Readiness; * Defense Spending; * Food Safety; * Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan; * Oversight of Financial Institutions and Markets; * Preparing for Large-Scale Health Emergencies; * Protecting the Homeland; * Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting; * Retirement of the Space Shuttle; * Surface Transportation; * The 2010 Census; and * Transition to Digital TV.
In addition to the urgent issues, the new GAO Web site is to include sections on: agency-by-agency issues, summarizing its work addressing 28 federal agencies; major cost-saving opportunities across agencies; and management challenges across the government. Use the resource link below to view the new GAO site.