I have finished my first week at the Government Accountability Office. It was a great week and I am really enjoying the job. I am really excited that this is my career. I am continually amazed at how much power the GAO has on the Hill and how much of their work ends up becoming law. The GAO has a reputation as being one of the more efficient and effective government offices. It focuses on providing research and legislative support to Congress on nearly all of the issues Congress examines. I am looking forward to getting past the administrative paperwork and getting deeper into my first engagement (their term for a group of 4-7 researchers that carry out a specific project for around nine months). I have had a chance to work a bit on my first engagement and it is really exciting. I am an analyst on the Health Care team, which has about 150-200 analysts and directors, from what I can tell. The whole GAO is about 3,000 workers -about 75% of which are in the main HQ in downtown
My first engagement is a little different than the usual Health Care assignment because it was originally assigned to another team but there was a fear of conflict of interests because the auditing department had connections to the office being audited. Normally, health care examines a specific issue and then carries out research using a variety of methods and finally provides a report that identifies the findings on a topic and makes recommendations, many of which become enacted by Congress. My first engagement will be examining the effectiveness and efficiency of the investigative arm of the Food and Drug Administration. This will involve interviewing and engaging with the FDA to find out their procedures and costs, and how well their funds are spent. From what I gather from other people on the team, it is a unique opportunity for the Health Care team and should be really interesting for my first engagement.
The process of getting the job was long and arduous and started July 22nd, the day before Heather’s defense and two days before my own. I didn’t hear back from them until early October asking for an interview. The interview was set up as a three hour process: two one-hour interviews and a one-hour informational meeting with one of their new hires. I felt I nailed the interview but I was told that it takes on average around two weeks for any decisions to be made. After about a week and a half I heard that I was offered the position contingent upon having positive references. The process of getting the references took another couple weeks. Finally, at the end of October I was offered the job and was given my start date as November 24th, nearly another month! However, I am thankful that it worked out so well.