GAO Law and Legal Definition

General accounting office (GAO) refers to a federal agency established under the legislative branch of the federal government to provide legal and accounting assistance to Congress. GAO was established in accordance with the Budget and Accounting Act, 1921. The GAO is headed by the Comptroller General appointed by the President of the U.S. The comptroller is appointed for a non-renewable term of 15 years. The object of the GAO is to help federal government to improve the performance and accountability for the benefit of the citizens of U.S.

The function of GAO is to conduct audits and to investigate federal programs and also to settle certain contract claims against the U.S. Thus, GAO is known as the investigative arm of Congress.