The General Accounting Office (GAO) conducts audits, surveys, investigations and evaluations of Federal programs. GAO's findings and recommendations are published as reports to members of Congress or delivered as testimony to Congressional committees. The GAO Reports database contains all published reports, except correspondence and reports that are restricted or classified. The database for FY 1995 is updated within two business days after reports are released. The report series are identified by the initials in the report number. A list of these initials is available at the end of this document and also in the User Guide for Database Online via GPO Access.

FIELDS:  The fields in the GAO Reports database are:
Report Number:       reportnum	
Report Title:        title
Report Issue Date:   date		
Subject Terms:       subject
Identifiers:{1}      identifier

A field can be searched by typing the field name, followed by an equals sign (=), followed by the term or terms that are sought. Numeric fields, such as the date field, can use the greater than (>) and less than (<) symbols to search a range of numbers. All queries that do not specify a field search the entire document.

MAXIMUM RESPONSES: The default settings for SWAIS and for the WinWAIS/MacWAIS client software is to return a maximum of 40 responses to a query. To locate a larger number of documents, you will need to change the setting. In SWAIS type a lower case o at the SOURCE SELECTION menu to change your options. In WinWAIS, select Edit and then Preferences from the pull down menu. In MacWAIS, select File and then Preferences from the pull down menu.

Good sample searches{2} for the GAO Reports database are:

Report Number [HEHS9542.ASK]{3}
ALTERNATE:	reportnum="HEHS 95 42"
RESULT:[HEHS-95-42] Charter Schools: New Model for Public Schools
Provides Opportunities

This search demonstrates the correct phrasing to retrieve a GAO report by number. The report number may be typed with or without the punctuation; however, spaces must be inserted between segments if no punctuation is used. To identify all reports in the HEHS series, search for reportnum=hehs. (NOTE: The GAO control number is not in the report number field. It does appear in the cover letter accompanying each report and can be searched using a query like "b-256567".)

Subject [CHILD.ASK]
QUERY:      child* ADJ health OR child* ADJ care OR child* ADJ abuse
ALTERNATE: "child* health" OR "child* care" OR "child* abuse"
RESULT:     [HEHS-95-20] Child Care: Child Care Subsidies Increase      
               Likelihood That Low-Income
            [HEHS-95-35] Health Care: School-Based Health Centers 
               Can Expand Access for

This search demonstrates the use of multiple boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT, ADJ) in a single query. This query will retrieve GAO reports that include the phrase "child health" (child ADJ health) OR "child care" (child ADJ care) OR "child abuse" (child ADJ abuse) somewhere in the report. A phrase may be entered surrounded by quotation marks (" ") or with each searchable word separated by the ADJ operator. Use of the asterisk (*) after the word child retrieves phrases including the word children or other words with the root child.

Title Field (CHILDCAR.ASK)
QUERY:  title="child care"
RESULT: [HEHS-95-20] Child Care: Child Care Subsidies Increase
        Likelihood That Low-Income 

This search retrieves GAO reports that include the phrase "child care" in the report title.

Subject Field (NAFTA.ASK)
QUERY:  subject="unemployment compensation" AND NAFTA
RESULT: [HEHS-95-31] Dislocated Workers: An Early Look at the NAFTA
          Transitional Adjustment

This search retrieves GAO reports that includes the phrase "unemployment compensation" in the subject field and mention NAFTA somewhere in the document.

Identifier Field (CANADA.ASK)
QUERY:  identifier=canada
RESULT: [HEHS-95-31] Dislocated Workers: An Early Look at the NAFTA
         Transitional Adjustment

The search retrieves GAO reports that include Canada in the identifier field.

Date Range (TRADE.ASK)
QUERY:      date=1/1/95 TO 1/31/95 AND trade
ALTERNATE: "january 1995" AND trade
RESULT:     [GGD-95-61] U.S.-China Trade: Implementation of 
               Agreements on Market Access

This search uses the date field{4} and the operator TO in order to find reports on trade published between January 1 and January 31, 1995. The alternate search uses the narrative date that appears on the report cover to identify a report; the use of the date January 1995 is less accurate than the use of the date field since a report may refer to an event that occurred in January 1995 when that is not the publication date. If a date (or date range) is used by itself, the database will list all documents with that date, regardless of subject matter. When a report has no specific day of issue, the date field will contain the dates for the first and last days of the month. (NOTE: The results list presents the reports in relevance ranked order, not chronological order. Relevance is computed based on several factors, including the occurrence of the search terms in the document title, the frequency of the terms as a percentage of the total document size and conformance with the exact search phrasing.)


Abbreviations for the report series are based on the division or office performing the analysis and include:

Abbreviation	Division or Office

AIMD Accounting and Information Management Division GGD General Government Division HEHS Health, Education, and Human Services Division HRD Human Resources Division NSIAD National Security and International Affairs Division OCG Office of the Comptroller General OGC Office of the General Counsel OIMC Office of Information Management and Communications OP Office of Policy OPP Office of Program Planning OSI Office of Special Investigations PEMD Program Evaluation and Methodology Division RCED Resources, Community and Economic Development Division

GAO Reports, Page 3 May 1, 1995


{1} Identifiers are additional terms for countries, states, organizations, treaties or other named things that are relevant to the subject of the report.

{2} The results of these sample searches are described as they will appear using SWAIS or the WinWAIS and MacWAIS client software customized for use with GPO Access. The searches can be performed with other WAIS client software, but the display of the results may vary.

{3} When a file name, such as HEHS.ASK, appears in brackets at the beginning of a sample search, there is a saved search with that file name distributed with the GPO Access WinWAIS and MacWAIS client software. The saved searches are also available on The Federal Bulletin Board and by anonymous FTP from

{4} The available operators for the date field and other numeric fields include equal to (=), greater than (>), less than, greater than or equal to (>=), and (<), less than or equal to (<=). When the equal sign (=) is used, the range may be specified using TO between the beginning and ending date, as shown in the sample search.

Edited by Carl E. Snow, Purdue University Libraries, and staff of the IUPUI University Library.

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Updated: 05 May 1999, CLC
Comments: Ask Questions Here!

Original Contributions Copyright 1999 - The Trustees of Indiana University