Climate change poses a serious financial threat to the federal government, according to the Government Accountability Office’s biennial “High-Risk Report” covering all federal agencies and programs.

The nonpartisan investigative agency released its findings Thursday, noting that “The federal government is not well positioned to address the fiscal exposure presented by climate change, and needs a government wide strategic approach with strong leadership to manage related risks.”

The report said the government is at risk because it owns extensive infrastructure, insures property through the National Flood Insurance Program and provides costly emergency aid after natural disasters occur.

Climate change is new to the GAO’s high-risk list this year. Also new is the issue of potential gaps in weather-satellite data that could affect forecasters’ ability to accurately predict extreme events such as hurricanes, storm surges and floods.

Programs and agencies can be removed from the list if their vulnerabilities are addressed.

The GAO removed its high-risk designation from two areas listed in its 2011 report: Management of interagency contracting and modernization of IRS business systems, which includes tax processing, refunds and services, as well as project oversight.


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