U.S. Government Accountability Office Reviews

Updated August 25, 2015
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99 Employee Reviews

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  1. Almost always great

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Economist
    Current Employee - Senior Economist
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at U.S. Government Accountability Office full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Work/life balance, great colleagues, fascinating work that makes a difference. Easy to move around the agency when you need a change.

    Cons

    Risk averse agency, lots of people are fairly stuck in policies and procedures in a way that can be very frustrating. My current boss is evil.


  2. Senior Health Policy Analyst

    Current Employee - Senior Policy Analyst in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Senior Policy Analyst in Washington, DC

    I have been working at U.S. Government Accountability Office full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Benefits and opportunities for flexible work schedules are good. Some of the project are interesting and you get a great understanding of how government work, especially Executive branch agencies and their programs.

    Cons

    Because of the pay and hiring freezes and retirements over the last few years, project teams are really lean and staff are getting burned out, which will hopefully be resolved as new staff come on board. There is not much interaction with Hill staff or external organizations, unless directly related to your current project. Also, the amount of time spent dealing with admin processes and administrative is great and often overshadows the work.

    Advice to Management

    Provide analysts with more autonomy when conducting their work. The need to micromanage each project does not add to the quality or accuracy of the work, but increases the time needed to complete projects.


  3. Senior Attorney

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Attorney in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Senior Attorney in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at U.S. Government Accountability Office full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Best Government agency I have worked for.

    Cons

    For a Government agency; none


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  5. Helpful (1)

    Senior Analyst (2A)

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Analyst (Band 2A) in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Senior Analyst (Band 2A) in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at U.S. Government Accountability Office full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Interesting and challenging work, talented colleagues, and a good reputation as an agency. Also, they offer telework and flex schedules and generally allow staff a lot of independence in how they manage their work.

    Cons

    Sometimes workload is too high.

    Advice to Management

    Provide more support and/or smaller projects to new project managers (AICs).


  6. Helpful (1)

    Decent place to start your career

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Analyst in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Senior Analyst in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at U.S. Government Accountability Office full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    GAO has excellent access to federal agencies so you will learn a lot about how the executive branch functions. The work is interesting, topics always changing, you work with new people every 12 months on a new project. Clear path for career advancement. All work is conducted in a team based environment, so you interact with people daily. Depending on the nature of your project, you may get to travel domestically or interationally. Great telework policies.

    Cons

    Risk-averse culture, asking questions can be frowned upon, and promtions are hard to come by due to budget cuts and limited personnel spaces. Leadership positions are hard to come by as well, I've been there for almost 7 years and just was given my first project to manage, even though I was promoted two years ago. Morale can be low, but that is a problem across the federal government.

    Advice to Management

    Promote people who are good at motivating and working with others, not superstars who only know the audit process well. Take more corrective action against slackers who don't contribute to the team.


  7. Helpful (1)

    Great place to work, but opportunities for advancement to management are limited outside of DC.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Analyst in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Senior Analyst in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at U.S. Government Accountability Office full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Work is varied and interesting, generally good opportunities for travel, strong adherence to core values.

    Cons

    Very risk averse culture, unwilling to acknowledge and deal with poor performers, out of date technology, union representation slows ability to make decisions about just about everything.


  8. Helpful (1)

    Great place to learn!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Analyst in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Senior Analyst in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at U.S. Government Accountability Office full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    I got wonderful training at GAO, worked with smart people, and contributed meaningfully to making government work better. Work-life flexibilities are amazing!

    Cons

    The work processes are slow....very slow.


  9. Helpful (6)

    Good Place to Work But GAO has Significant Flaws

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Analyst in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Senior Analyst in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at U.S. Government Accountability Office full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    The work at GAO is interesting and quite varied as it can involve many different government agencies and programs, which means that employees have opportunities to learn continuously, and don't get bogged down in repetitive annual work cycles, which is often the case at other federal agencies (although as observed by many leaving comments on this site, GAO's work processes can be stultifying). Because GAO is continuously recruiting new employees to replace retirees and others who leave, there are significant opportunities for growth and advancement. If you master GAO's work processes and writing technique, and excel at analysis and teamwork and demonstrate a can do approach to your assignments, you will be appreciated and have opportunities for advancement. Also, the team approach to engagements and GAO culture provide built-in mentoring and many opportunities for learning GAO processes. Employees who innovate in use of technology or in use of analytical approaches that complement GAO's engagement methodology are appreciated and likely to be rewarded for their efforts. Also, GAO's pay scale is probably in the upper 30% of federal agencies.

    Cons

    GAO's appraisal system has the appearance of being criteria-based and objective, but it is significantly flawed and frequently unfair. Based on GAO's own statistics, some demographic groups fare well, while others come out perennially on the short end of the rating system, which because ratings are used to determine pay increases, means that some demographics get lesser increases (e.g., in recent rating cycles, GAO data showed that employees over 50 years of age received less than 1/2 of the higher pay increases of younger employees). Additionally, the rating system can be capricious. For example, after a promotion, employees typically get at least one low annual rating, even if they do extraordinary work. Other examples of the appraisal system being arbitrary are that some employees who are given very difficult assignments and live up to the challenge, are given lower ratings than other employees who are given relatively easy assignments. In GAO's appraisal training, the agency actually defended (praised) this practice (doing something simple "really well" is better than doing something difficult only well). Further, some employees are able to obtain above average ratings by filing or threatening to file a complaint, although be forewarned, this approach can also have the opposite effect. Because GAO is very concerned with being accused of discriminating against some, employees, others who are not from a preferred group may get lower ratings. An example of preferred groups - in less than a decade GAO went from majority male to 58% female (women are rated somewhat higher than men at GAO), and the agency is currently taking additional steps to shape workplace demographics (this is either a positive or a negative for those seeking employment at GAO, depending on their demographics). In summary, good workers can and often do receive marginal ratings despite doing good work at GAO. Finally - and this is not a con, just advice - keys to success at GAO are to always appear to be knowledgeable (the appearance of weakness on even a single occasion will often be held against you), never do something that angers those above you (okay that is obvious, however GAO has an especially long corporate memory), and align yourself with a respected supervisor who becomes your advocate - your supervisor is probably the most important person in determining your rating and promotion potential.

    Advice to Management

    I have none, because I know GAO will not take steps to change the flaws that concern me.


  10. Helpful (1)

    Alright - smart people. Passive aggressive environment

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Flex time - good work life balance (if you push for it) - generally smart people. Wide variety of topics.

    Cons

    Different mission teams have different dynamics. A lot of competitive personalities w/out people skills.


  11. A challenging and rewarding career

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at U.S. Government Accountability Office full-time

    Pros

    GAO provides unique experiences to public administration and accounting graduates that consulting and accounting firms cannot offer. GAO has an exceptional professional development and training program. There are a wide variety of opportunities to work on financial audits, performance audits, and testimonies to the Congress. What better way to use your CPA and education than to help the Congress meet its constitutional responsibilities to improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the government?

    Cons

    Sometimes reports take too long to go out the door because GAO has a very thorough quality assurance and report review process before it releases its products. Also, there is a pretty useless union that no one can seem to get rid of.



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