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MPA Grad Puts Skills to the Test at GAO’s International “Dream Job”

Brian Egger

Gazing up at the Taj Mahal on his day off from a mission with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Brian Egger, SPA/MPA’ 09, knew he was in a unique position.

“The job has taken me to places I’d dreamed about seeing but never dreamed at this stage in my career that I would actually visit,” reflected Egger, a GAO analyst with a freshly minted MPA from the School of Public Affairs.

After earning his BA in politics from Willamette University in 2007, Egger enjoyed an accelerated route to his dream job. After serving as an aide in the state legislature the next step was a graduate degree. “I knew I wanted to be a career civil servant,” he said. “I considered other schools that offered an MPA in Washington, DC, but was struck by AU’s small class sizes and the involvement of their faculty… I liked the emphasis AU put on a student’s ability to work full-time and pursue degrees on a part-time basis.”

AU’s flexible class schedules allowed Egger take part in GAO’s unique internship program, with encouragement and a recommendation from SPA Professor Howard McCurdy. The internship led to a permanent position at GAO, months before Egger even completed his MPA.

Since joining the GAO full-time in September 2008, Egger has been on rotation with the agency’s Professional Development Program. He has served on projects as far-ranging as an engagement to benchmark the Navy’s shipbuilding practices against its commercial counterparts, a mandate to look at state educational programs funded under the Recovery Act, and a stint with the GAO’s International Affairs and Trade group studying the Cuba embargo.

Egger’s visit to India took place while on an assignment examining U.S. government efforts to develop a comprehensive government-wide global food security strategy. Egger’s team was asked to identify and evaluate all the activities related to food security being implemented across ten different U.S. agencies, with the end goal of better integrating these sometimes disparate approaches to reducing global hunger. In the course of this assignment, Egger visited USAID missions in Haiti, Ethiopia, India and Bangladesh.

“It was quite an extensive engagement and very demanding, requiring interaction with both host and US government officials at the highest levels, including the chief of staff to Secretary of State Clinton,” said Egger. “I know very few people who at this stage in their careers are able to do what I do: sit down with high-ranking officials and ask questions to obtain information that wouldn’t otherwise be available to the public. That’s where you can really have an impact on policy.”