Continued from page 1

According to information provided by Mr. Coburn’s office, Congress has steadily cut the GAO’s personnel and funding, even as lawmakers boosted their own office spending.

The GAO’s reports are often used to highlight government waste and inefficiency. For example, a GAO report earlier this year identified billions of dollars spent on 81 different areas where the government has duplicative programs doing essentially the same thing, while another report found 30 federal programs particularly susceptible to fraud or abuse.

Since that report, Mr. Coburn has twice offered an amendment to try to recapture some of that money, including most recently as a way to offset increased disaster-aid money. It gained 54 votes, short of the 60 needed to be adopted in the Senate.

On the other side of the Capitol, the House passed its own version of the legislative-spending bill earlier this year. It included a total cut of 3 percent to the GAO, which would mean $529.6 million of funding. That’s still $27 million less than the GAO wanted.

The House registered its own complaints about the GAO, delivering a written spanking over testimony GAO officials gave on for-profit colleges that has come under fire for being biased.

“In its investigation of its own report, GAO determined that pressure to find errors in ‘15 out of 15’ schools and to finish the report within a short time frame, as well as last-minute demands to include revisions to the report, resulted in a flawed final product that, even with revisions, remains available for public reference,” the appropriators wrote in a committee report.

A GAO spokeswoman said the agency had no comment on the funding dispute. But in its official request for 2012 funding, the agency warned that cuts would mean fewer reports would be done and that they would take longer to release.

Congress hasn’t passed any of the dozen annual spending bills, and the government is once again operating on stopgap funding.

All sides are bracing for a massive omnibus bill that would combine most of those annual spending bills into a trillion-dollar package, and the GAO’s funding likely will be worked out in that deal.