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Testimony before the House Committee on the Budget - Congress's Constitutional Power of the Purse and the Government Accountability Office's Role to Serve that Power
In 1921, Congress created the General Accounting Office - now the Government Accountability Office - through the Budget and Accounting Act to assist it in the discharge of its core constitutional powers, including the power of the purse.9 Congress created this independent, nonpartisan office in the legislative branch "because it believed that it 'needed an officer, responsible to it alone, to check upon the application of public funds in accordance with appropriations.'"10 The Budget and Accounting Act vested GAO with the authority to "investigate, at the seat of government or elsewhere, all matters relating to the receipt, disbursement, and application of public funds . . . ."11 In addition, this Act transferred from the Comptroller of the Treasury to the Comptroller General the authority to issue legal decisions to executive branch officials concerning the use and availability of public money.12
Approved For Public Release