Government Accountability Office (GAO)
What it is:
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigates, with congressional approval, the federal government's spending.
How it works (Example):
The GAO started in 1921, when the Budget and Act transferred the government's auditing and functions away from the Treasury Department. The head of the GAO is the comptroller general of the United States and is appointed to a 15-year term by the U.S. president. Congress gives the president a list of candidates to choose from.
The GAO is now an independent, nonpartisan agency that investigates the use of taxpayer dollars, writes reports about its findings and makes recommendations to Congress. These reports and findings are available here.