Complete Description:The Financial Literacy and Education Improvement Act created, in December 2003, the Financial Literacy and Education Commission. Responding to the act’s mandate that GAO assess the Commission’s effectiveness, this report reviews its progress in (1) developing a national strategy; (2) developing a Web site and hotline; and (3) coordinating federal efforts and promoting partnerships among the federal, state, local, nonprofit, and private sectors. To address these objectives, GAO analyzed Commission documents, interviewed financial literacy representatives, and benchmarked the national strategy against GAO’s criteria for such strategies.
GAO found that the National Strategy for Financial Literacy served as a useful first step in focusing attention on financial literacy, but it is largely descriptive rather than strategic. The Commission Web site generally serves as an effective portal to existing federal financial literacy sites but has not been tested. Coordinating federal efforts has been challenging, in part because the Commission must achieve consensus among 20 federal agencies, each with its own viewpoints, programs, and constituencies, and because of the Commission’s limited resources. GAO recommended that the Commission (1) incorporate additional elements into the national strategy to help measure results and ensure accountability, (2) conduct usability tests of and measure customer satisfaction with its Web site, (3) independently review for duplication and evaluate the effectiveness of federal activities, and (4) expand upon current efforts to cultivate sustainable partnerships with nonprofit and private entities.