The Government Accountability Office doesn’t just identify waste, fraud, and abuse in government; it wins literature prizes on the side. Last Thursday, the 2012 Ig Nobel Prize Committee announced that the GAO had won the 2012 Ig Nobel Prize in Literature for its report “Actions Needed to Evaluate the Impact of Efforts to Estimate Costs of Reports and Studies.” The Ig Nobels, sponsored by the Annals of Improbable Research, are awarded annually to recognize “achievements that first make people laugh, then make them think.”
The GAO report was a review of a Department of Defense effort to estimate how much money DOD spends writing reports for Congress. GAO concluded that DOD’s estimation was not fully consistent with the relevant accounting standards. The agency then recommended that the Secretary of Defense “take steps to evaluate DOD’s effort to estimate costs […] .”
To sum up: the reports about reports were not so good, but the report about reports about reports that recommends another report was award-winning. That makes us wonder: How good can the next report be?