David M. Walker (politician)

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David Walker
Personal details
Born (1951-10-02) October 2, 1951 (age 67)
Birmingham, Alabama, US
Political party Republican
Alma mater Jacksonville University
Harvard University

David M. Walker (born October 2, 1951) served as United States Comptroller General from 1998 to 2008, and is founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative. He was considered a potential contender for the Connecticut U.S. Senate seat that Joe Lieberman left in 2012, but chose not to run, and said he would maintain his status as an independent. Similarly, he had been promoted as a potential candidate for president, through Americans Elect, before that organization's decision to not field a candidate in the 2012 election. Walker endorsed Mitt Romney for president on October 29, 2012, in an op-ed in the Washington Times. In 2013, Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.) voted for Walker for Speaker of the House.[1]

Early life and education

Walker was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1951.[2] He received his B.S. in accounting from Jacksonville University, a Senior Management in Government Certificate in public policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, his first honorary degree from Bryant University, and several other honorary doctorate degrees (American University, Jacksonville University, and Lincoln Memorial University). He is also a Certified Public Accountant and has completed the CAPSTONE program for flag rank military officers. Mr. Walker was employed by Arthur Andersen LLP (1989-1998).

Career as Comptroller General

David Walker served as Comptroller general of the United States from 1998-2008. He was appointed by Bill Clinton. While at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Walker undertook a number of transformational reforms within the GAO and the government that were widely recognized. He also achieved two pieces of GAO-related legislation, one of which changed the name of the agency from the General Accounting Office to the Government Accountability Office. Walker embarked on a Fiscal Wake-up Tour,[3] partnering with the Brookings Institution, the Concord Coalition, and the Heritage Foundation to alert Americans of the country's long-term fiscal imbalance.[4] Walker left the GAO to head the Peterson Foundation on March 12, 2008.[5] Labor-management relations became fractious at the end of Walker's nine-plus year tenure as Comptroller general. On September 19, 2007, GAO analysts voted by a margin of two to one (897–445), in a 75% turnout, to establish the first union in GAO's 86-year history. At the same time, despite controversy over GAO's internal reclassification effort, GAO employees rated the agency as the second best place to work in the federal government.

Peter G. Peterson Foundation

In 2008 Walker was personally recruited by Peter G. Peterson, co-founder of the Blackstone Group, and former Secretary of Commerce under Richard Nixon, to lead his new foundation. The Foundation distributed the documentary film, I.O.U.S.A.,[6] which follows Walker and Robert Bixby, director of the Concord Coalition, around the nation, as they engage Americans in town-hall style meetings, along with luminaries such as Warren Buffett, Alan Greenspan, Paul Volcker, and Robert Rubin.

Peterson was cited by the New York Times as one of the foremost "philanthropists whose foundations are spending increasing amounts and raising their voices to influence public policy".[7] In philanthropy, Walker has advocated a more action-based approach to the traditional foundation: “I do believe, however, that foundations have been very cautious and somewhat conservative about whether and to what extent they want to get involved in advocacy.”[7] David Walker stepped down as President and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation on October 15, 2010, to establish his own venture, the Comeback America Initiative.

Campaign for fiscal responsibility

Walker has compared the present-day United States to the Roman Empire in its decline, saying the U.S. government is on a "burning platform" of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, expensive overcommitments to government provided health care, swelling Medicare and Social Security costs, the enormous expense of a prospective universal health care system, and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon.[8][9][10][11]

Walker has also taken the position that there will be no technological change that will mitigate health care and social security problems into 2050 despite ongoing discoveries.

In the national press, Walker has been a vocal critic of profligate spending at the federal level. In Fortune magazine, he recently warned that "from Washington, we'll need leadership rather than laggardship".[12] in another op-ed in the Financial Times, he argued that the credit crunch could portend a far greater fiscal crisis;[13] and on CNN, he said that the United States is "underwater to the tune of $50 trillion" in long-term obligations.[14]

He compared the thrift of Revolutionary-era Americans, who, if excessively in debt, would "merit time in debtors' prison", with modern times, where "we now have something closer to debtors' pardons, and that's not good".[15][16]

In the fall of 2012, the Comeback America Initiative led a campaign called the "$10 Million a Minute" Bus Tour. The tour covered about 10,000 miles and stopped at universities, technical colleges, businesses, and more in over a dozen states. The tour’s goal was to bring national attention to the economic and fiscal challenges that face our nation and various nonpartisan solutions that should be able to gain bipartisan support.

Along with former Fed Vice Chairman Alice Rivlin, Walker danced the Harlem Shake in a video produced by The Can Kicks Back, a nonpartisan group that aims to organize millennials to pressure lawmakers to address the United States' $16.4 trillion debt.[17]

Other responsibilities

Prior to his appointment to the GAO, Walker served as a partner and global managing director of Arthur Andersen LLP and in several government leadership positions, including as a Public Trustee for Social Security and Medicare from 1990 to 1995 and as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Pension and Welfare Benefit Programs during the Reagan administration. Before his time at Arthur Andersen, Walker worked for Source Finance, a personnel agency, and before that was in Human Resources at accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand.

Walker serves on various boards and advisory groups, including as Chairman of the United Nations Independent Audit Advisory Committee from 2007 to 2011, as a member of the Boards for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, as well as a member of Advisory Committees for The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, and the Peterson Foundation. He is also a member of the National Academy for Public Administration, the National Academy of Social Insurance, the Trilateral Commission, and the Sons of the American Revolution. He is a National Co-Founder of No Labels and is currently serving as Chair of a Postal Reform Panel for National Academy of Public Administration, as Chair of the Government Transformation Initiative Coalition, and as Co-Chair of the Institute of Medicine’s End of Life Panel.

He has authored three books, with the latest one entitled Comeback America: Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility (2010), which is national bestseller. He is a frequent writer and commentator, and is one of the main subjects of the critically acclaimed documentary I.O.U.S.A.. Critic Roger Ebert named I.O.U.S.A. one of the Top 5 Documentaries of 2008.[18]

Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut Candidacy

In the 2014 election, Walker sought to become the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut. In Connecticut, the candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor run separately in the primary elections, but together as a ticket in the general election. Walker came in third at the convention behind winner Heather Bond Somers and runner-up Penny Bacchiochi.

Personal life

He and his wife Mary live in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and have two children and three grandchildren. Walker was a Democrat from 1969 to 1976, a Republican from 1977 to 1996, and has been a political Independent since 1997. He returned to the Republican Party in order to run for Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut. Walker is a frequent speaker, Congressional witness, writer, and media commentator.


Walker has received numerous leadership and public service awards. For example, Walker was awarded the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' highest award, the Gold Medal Award of Distinction on October 19, 2008.[19] In 2010 Walker was inducted into the Accounting Hall of Fame at The Ohio State University.[20]


  • 1996. Retirement Security: Understanding and Planning Your Financial Future. John Wiley & Sons.
  • 1998. Delivering on the Promise: How to Attract, Manage and Retain Human Capital. Free Press.
  • 2010. Comeback America: Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility. Random House.


  1. Kasperowicz, Pete (3 January 2013). "Boehner reelected as Speaker; nine Republicans defect in vote". The Hill. Retrieved 15 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Congressional Staff Directory.
  3. "Fiscal Wake-Up Tour". US Government Accountability Office.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "GAO's Walker Sounds An Alarm". Forbes. November 5, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Walker to Leave GAO Next Month". The Hill. February 15, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. I.O.U.S.A.: The Movie
  7. 7.0 7.1 Strom, Stephanie (November 6, 2008). "Some Philanthropists Are No Longer Content to Work Quietly". New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Grant, Jeremy, "Learn from the Fall of Rome, U.S. Warned", Financial Times, August 14, 2007.
  9. Allison, Tony, "The Boomers are Coming, The Boomers are Coming: Demographic Tsunami is at the Gate", Financial Sense Wrap-up, October 15, 2007.
  10. "U.S. Heading For Financial Trouble? Comptroller Says Medicare Program Endangers Financial Stability". CBS News 60 Minutes. July 8, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "One man's campaign against federal debt - CNN.com". CNN. March 30, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Walker, David M. (October 30, 2008). "Call this a crisis?". CNN Money.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Washington Must Heed Fiscal Alarm Bell". Financial Times. September 22, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Walker: Economic mess awaits unless action is taken". CNN. March 29, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Walker, David (2010). Comeback America: Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility. New York: Random House. p. 28. ISBN 1-4000-6860-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Dave Walker for NSSAR - Fighting for America's Future". Peter G. Peterson Foundation.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Chokshi, Niraj (15 February 2013). "Budget Wonks Dance the 'Harlem Shake' — the Latest Web Trend". National Journal.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "The best films of 2008... and there were a lot of them". Chicago Sun-Times. December 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Dave Walker Receives AIPCA's Highest Award" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Dave Walker Inducted into Accounting Hall of Fame".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links