U.S. Government Accountability Office

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U.S. Government Accountability Office Reviews

Updated April 19, 2015
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  1. Helpful (1)

    Family Friendly but Stifling

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

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

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    GAO has a very strong work-life balance: telework, AWS, flexible hours, casual dress code are all great benefits. Also, it is not on the general schedule, so employees can get pay increases much faster than in other government agencies.

    Cons

    GAO is so focused on work-life balance that it has perhaps gone too far. Poor performers are rarely dealt with and employees miss deadlines without consequence. Also, promotions are based more on favoritism and diversity, rather than true merit, Therefore, the leadership is pretty unimpressive. Finally, (perhaps on account of the fact that GAO is an accounting organization), there is much more focus on following prescribed policies and procedures than on making sure products are issued on time and have useful and substantive information.

    Advice to Management

    Rethink the promotions process and include management outside the team. Lighten up on all of the policies and procedures and give equal weight to usefulness/timeliness of reports.

  2. Family friendly

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at U.S. Government Accountability Office

    Pros

    Office is family-friendly, benefits are outstanding and that says a lot in federal government, good work recognized with pay bonuses, ability to contribute facts to the political debate

    Cons

    Work products must pass through several levels of review

  3. Helpful (2)

    Learn Great Skills

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

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

    No opinion of CEO
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Has a decent cafeteria
    Work/life balance
    Lots of training courses
    Has field offices in several cities if you want or need to transfer
    Some coworkers will be nice
    You will learn how to research and write pretty well if you couldn't before getting there
    You will have the opportunity to gain confidence communicating with all levels of professionals in a concise, bottom line way

    Cons

    Projects can be boring
    Don't share if things aren't going right; it'll be viewed as your fault
    Intellectual envy and big egos
    Promotions can be highly unfair
    Some coworkers can be quite difficult maybe because of the above cons

    Advice to Management

    Not sure what to say. I don't think things will change unless people start telling the truth to management. A lot of things are said in inner circles or cliques that isn't said directly to management.

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  5. 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)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    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 Management

    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.

  6. Helpful (6)

    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)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    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 Management

    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.

  7. 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)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

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

    Cons

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

  8. 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)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    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 Management

    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.

  9. 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)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    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 Management

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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)

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    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 Management

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

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