U.S. Government Accountability Office

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  1.  

    Very smart group of analysts

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Policy Analyst in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Policy Analyst in Washington, DC

    I worked at U.S. Government Accountability Office full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    -A great place to learn how to do rigorous policy analysis
    -Smart and friendly co-workers

    Cons

    -Quality management can often trump meaningful report development.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Much of GAO's performance auditing work is mixed methods program evaluation work. Consider exposing junior analysts to more of those techniques as well as the project management skills that are the stepping stones to a successful GAO career.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 6 people found this helpful  

    Cushy government job. But very boring work. Management skills sometimes lacking.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Staff Auditor in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Staff Auditor in Washington, DC

    I worked at U.S. Government Accountability Office full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    -Great pay (but does plateau after a certain amount.)
    -Flexible work schedule
    -Amazing work-life balance
    -Exposure to the inner-workings of a lot of different Federal agencies.
    -GAO is a great place to start your career if you have aspirations to spend your entire career in the Federal government. Meaning, GAO is a well respected government agency and you can easily find a job in a lot of places within the government after GAO. I have GAO friends who went on to work in the IG department of the Federal Reserve, the State Department, and even in the intelligence field (FBI, ICE, etc.) after being at GAO for a few years. GAO is to the Federal government what the Big 4 is to the corporate environment.

    Cons

    -For me, the audit work is very uninteresting. In my team, you either do financial statement audits of Federal agencies or performance audits. Both entail looking at detailed internal controls and policies and procedures.
    A lot of people I talk to in my mission team are not inspired by the work. You're basically looking at work done by others, and then produce a report on your findings...that nobody actually reads. If a strict compliance and regulation culture within the Federal government is something you find interesting, GAO might actually be a good fit for you.

    -Most of the senior auditors don't know how to lead, teach, and inspire the staff auditors. They're good auditors who got promoted to management. But, they continue JUST being competent auditors without developing the necessary leadership skills. I've had a couple good managers who really inspired me...but ultimately, I've had many more who just didn't understand how to truly lead a team. And that's the norm.

    -GAO has a culture where people are reluctant to ask questions because they don't want to look uninformed by asking "dumb" questions they should already know the answer to. As a result, people act like they know everything, when they don't. This is especially true of the senior auditors. This can be frustrating for a staff auditor when their seniors don't give them solid instruction and guidance about how to approach the job.

    -Management at GAO can be passive aggressive towards their staff. For example, you don't get feedback on your performance until after the engagement is completed. That means if your senior is not pleased with your performance, you could get a mediocre review without ever having a chance to try and improve.

    -Not much input on what engagement you're assigned to. While you can put in your preferences, you will be put where you're needed depending on timing. As a result, you could be put on a job you're less than excited about. Which, in my opinion, are most engagements.

    Another reviewer mentioned that GAO is a great place to work if you're the right fit. I whole heartedly agree with that. If you have an outgoing and creative personality, constantly want to engage people with an up-beat attitude, and be in an ever changing fast-paced environment, then GAO is probably NOT for you.

    If you enjoy making sure that people follow policies and procedures and you like marking off compliance checklists in a slow-paced, highly bureaucratic culture...then GAO might be the perfect fit.

    Ultimately, I'm here for the good pay and easy work hours. That's it. And I'd say that's true for a lot of auditors at GAO.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Have a solid training process in place each time an auditor is assigned to a new engagement. There's kind of a sink or swim mentality each time you're put on a new job where the auditor is expected to figure out how the job works by osmosis. This would be helped by training managers how to teach and inspire their staff, which again, is thoroughly lacking.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    Great for Young Professional

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Intern - Policy Analyst in Washington, DC
    Former Intern - Policy Analyst in Washington, DC

    I worked at U.S. Government Accountability Office as an intern (less than a year)

    Pros

    Intelligent, hard working people, multiple locations, interesting issue areas, travel opportunities

    Cons

    High cost of living in most areas, highly competitive hiring process,

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
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  5.  

    Positive experience

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

    I worked at U.S. Government Accountability Office full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    -Positive work atmosphere
    -Training and other perks
    -Flexible schedules
    -Intelligent, motivated workforce

    Cons

    -Projects are heavily focused on process; analysis often suffers
    -As others have noted, risk aversion
    -The band pay system is, for most, all valleys and few peaks
    -Top-heavy management

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Focus more on policy analysis rather than pushing to identify recommendations. In particular, I got the sense that for certain teams the search for financial recommendations drives the approach.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  6.  

    Good place to begin a career in public service with lots of structure and discipline.

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

    I worked at U.S. Government Accountability Office full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    Professional development opportunities and ability to work in different subject areas even within a team. Fair work-life balance.

    Cons

    Nepotistic, there are little or no opportunities for minorities due to what is called the "unwritten rules" which took the agency several years to acknowledge exists. Even with the acknowledgement of the unwritten rules against minorities, not much has changed.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Rid GAO of nepotism and placing the glass ceiling on minorities. You must change the culture of the agency.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    Visual Communication Analyst is a great job and love to work with other people.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at U.S. Government Accountability Office

    Pros

    Pros is advancement with other positions at GAO and the people there are great. Best place to work in DC.

    Cons

    Not much of what to think of bad.

  8.  

    Stable job but few opportunities for advancement.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC

    I worked at U.S. Government Accountability Office full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Interesting work, stable job, good people.

    Cons

    Not a lot of promotion opportunities and annual salary adjustments are generally smaller than those of executive branch agencies.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Performance reviews should be objective and fair; invest in your best employees if you want to retain them.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9.  

    OK experience for liberal minded, great experience for conservative.

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

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

    Pros

    Senior level management at the director level is astounding.

    Cons

    Very conservative environment, not for the liberal minded. A lot of old people. Organization does not really have any power. You basically shuffle paper all day. If you are a young person, think of the movie Office Space, that is actually how you will feel if you work there.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You cannot put analysts as a mangers. In order to be a manager, you cannot just mange projects but you need to know how to manage people. Make your analysts take human capital training before promoting them.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    Could be better, But internal politics holds everyone back

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

    I have been working at U.S. Government Accountability Office full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    There are many talented people.

    Cons

    No upward mobility for some people , even if they are talented and competent

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Make sure that the technology actually helps people become productive, Don't just deploy for the sake of something new.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11.  

    Work at GAO

    Current Employee - Senior Economist in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Economist in San Francisco, CA

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

    Pros

    Meaningful and interesting work, with possibility of strong policy impact. Great colleagues. Excellent work-life balance.

    Cons

    Somewhat bureaucratic process to doing the work.

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