Foreward to the GAO Green Book


Policymakers and program managers are continually seeking ways to improve accountability in achieving an entity’s mission. A key factor in improving accountability in achieving an entity’s mission is to implement an effective internal control system. An effective internal control system helps an entity adapt to shifting environments, evolving demands, changing risks, and new priorities. As programs change and entities strive to improve operational processes and implement new technology, management continually evaluates its internal control system so that it is effective and updated when necessary.

Section 3512 (c) and (d) of Title 31 of the United States Code (commonly known as the Federal Managers’ Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA)) requires the Comptroller General to issue standards for internal control in the federal government. Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government (known as the Green Book), provide the overall framework for establishing and maintaining an effective internal control system. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular No. A-123 provides specific requirements for assessing and reporting on controls in the federal government. The term internal control in this document covers all aspects of an entity’s objectives (operations, reporting, and compliance).

The Green Book may also be adopted by state, local, and quasi-governmental entities, as well as not-for-profit organizations, as a framework for an internal control system. Management of an entity determines, based on applicable laws and regulations, how to appropriately adapt the standards presented in the Green Book as a framework for the entity.

The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) updated its internal control guidance in 2013 with the issuance of a revised Internal Control - Integrated Framework. COSO introduced the concept of principles related to the five components of internal control. The Green Book adapts these principles for a government environment.

The standards are effective beginning with fiscal year 2016 and the FMFIA reports covering that year. Management, at its discretion, may elect early adoption of the Green Book.

This revision of the standards has gone through an extensive deliberative process, including public comments and input from the Comptroller General’s Advisory Council on Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government. The advisory council consists of about 20 experts in financial and performance management drawn from federal, state, and local government; the private sector; and academia. The views of all parties were thoroughly considered in finalizing the standards.

I appreciate the efforts of government officials, public accounting professionals, and other members of the audit and academic communities who provided valuable assistance in developing these standards. I extend special thanks to the members of the Advisory Council on Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government for their extensive input and feedback throughout the entire process of developing and finalizing the standards.

Gene L. Dodaro
Comptroller General
of the United States

September 2014

  1. COSO Framework
  2. Green Book PDF
  3. GAO Green Book Site