WASHINGTON (AFP) — The head of the audit and investigative arm of the US Congress announced his resignation Friday, citing "real limitations" on what he could do.
David Walker, 51, a respected voice on fiscal matters, said he was making an early departure from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) to head a new public interest foundation.
"As Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO, there are real limitations on what I can do and say in connection with key public policy issues, especially issues that directly relate to GAO's client -- the Congress," Walker said in a statement.
He did not elaborate but Walker last year issued an unusually downbeat assessment of his country's future in a report that drew parallels with the end of the Roman empire.
He had warned that the US government was on a "burning platform" of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action was not taken soon.
There were "striking similarities" between America's current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, he had said.
These included "declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government."
"This was a very difficult decision for me," Walker said Friday of his decision to leave the GAO, which he joined in November for what was to be a 15-year term of office. His resignation would be effective March 12.
He said he would become president and chief executive officer of the newly established Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which would "educate and activate" Americans while supporting "sensible policy solutions" on various issues.
"My new position will provide me with the ability and resources to more aggressively address a range of current and emerging challenges facing our country," he said.
"This move will enable me to sharpen my messages and bring focus and attention to the fiscal and other key sustainability challenges that I and others have been discussing during the past several years," he said.