WHO IS ELMER B.
Elmer Boyd Staats, after serving this
country for more than half a century, died at July 23, 2011. Appointed by President
Lyndon B. Johnson, Mr. Staats was the Comptroller General through the Nixon,
Ford and Carter administration. From 1966 until 1981, Mr. Staats was the Chief
of General Accounting Office(CAO), whose name now changed to Government
Direct quote from Mr. Statts, “…GAO’s investigative
territory … is about every cranny of the federal establishment”. GAO
investigate “how the government spends taxpayer’s every cent, analyze
Government’s accounting standard”.
WHAT ELMER B. STAATS
Although the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 and a 1951 Law accept the Comptroller
General’s access to federal agency record, GAO experienced a lot of
difficulties when trying to access them. In a case right after Mr. Staats took
position, the court ruled in favor of GAO, stating that “The law governing examination
of contractor records included production cost record, although such costs had
not been considered at the time of contract negotiation”.
In 1980, at a time right before Mr. Staats
leave, the Congress passed the GAO Act.
This Act states that “GAO could apply for judicial enforcement of access
requests. Specifically, CAO could subpoena the records of contractors”.
The Cost Accounting
In 1960s, Congress begin to study on trying
to apply uniform cost accounting standard to negotiated defense contract over
$100,000, and GAO make this assumption come true. In 1970, the Congress
approved the establishment of CASB in order to “develop standard in defense
contracts”. The Comptroller General was the Chairman of CASB. In CASB’s 10
years short life, this agency created several important rules include: “overall
cost accounting matters; Classes, categories, and elements of cost; pools of
Congressional Budget and impoundment Control Act of 1974
This act enlarged GAO’s role in program
evaluation, and gave GAO significant responsibilities and duties relating to
the new Congressional Budget Process.
According to The Act 93-344, GAO’s
responsibilities were outlined:
Provide information, services, and staff to
assist the House and Senate Budget Committees, as well as other committees and
Work with Treasury Department, OMB, and the new
Congressional Budget Office to develop standardized data processing and
information systems for fiscal, budgeting and program-related information.
Conduct a continuing program to identify the
needs of congressional committees and members for the above information
Work with Treasury, CBO and OMB to develop an
inventory and directory of sources and information systems for fiscal,
budgetary and program-related information.
Work with OMB and CBO to provide Federal fiscal,
budgetary and program-related information to state and local Governments.
While dealing with defense contract audits,
Mr. Staats emphasize on the Act named Truth
in Negotiation Act. This Act force the contractors to certify that ” the
cost of pricing data they submitted were accurate, current and complete”. In Truth in Negotiation Act, it said that “If
the Government and the contractor negotiated in good faith on an “arm’s length”
basis with necessary facts available, there would be no question in regard to
over-pricing”. What is more, Mr. Staats also emphasize on the internal audit
work of DCAA, together with The Truth in
Negotiation Act, which made it less necessary for GAO to audit the DCAA
defense contracts in detail. According to the public record Archive of GAO, in
later years, GAO “gave more attention to the acquisition of weapon system,
procurement systems, planning and scheduling of production and contract administration”.
In 1966, according to GAO’s Human Resource
data, GAO’s professional staff and manager were almost white men. Staats
established an EEO program in 1966, and trying to help minority have more
career opportunities at GAO. Until November, 1980, the data shows that “59.6%
of GAO personnel were white men, 20% were white women, 7% were minority men,
and 13.4% were minority women”, which is an impressive improvement.
In 1960s, Vietnam War cost more than 700
billion dollars. Congress concerned over this huge expenditure and worried that
this expenditure was lack of control. Congress let GAO to expend its work to
Vietnam. Vietnam was one of the most dangerous place in the world at that time.
According to GAO’s report, ” In march 1969, six Gao auditors narrowly escaped
injury when enemy rocket hit the barracks they were sleeping in”. Although the
workplace is dangerous, GAO still issued 21 reports on Vietnam war.
GAO also touched a lot of areas when Mr. Staats
in charge of the GAO, including Watergate, energy issue, consumer protection
and also fiscal Crisis, etc. GAO changed significantly during Staats era. Staats
effectively lead the GAO to meet new challenges, and this also let the Congress
and Government respect on him.