Control of Yearend Spending

Gao ID: 112222 May 1, 1980

Yearend spending, the practice of obligating substantial amounts of funds during the last weeks and months of the fiscal year in order to keep them from lapsing at yearend, is a recurring concern to Congress and the public. Although spending or obligating funds near the end of the year does not automatically mean that they were spent wastefully or inappropriately, where monitoring of budget execution is not effective, abuses can and do occur. In an effort to deal with the problem, GAO believes that a temporary limitation is the most appropriate means available to Congress to force the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the agencies to pay more attention to budget execution and to do a better job of budget planning and management. Moreover, GAO believes that the apportionment process is the appropriate vehicle for administering any limitation on yearend spending. Accordingly, GAO recommends that the features of this approach should: (1) use the existing apportionment process to administer the limitation; (2) have general applicability to all obligational authority planned for use in a fiscal year; (3) limit the total agency spending in the last 2 months of each fiscal year to 20 percent of planned spending for the year; (4) allow the Director of OMB to authorize exceptions to avoid serious disruption to the execution of operations and programs; (5) require that departures be reported to Congress; (6) be in effect for 3 fiscal years; (7) require that after the first 2 years, the Director of OMB report to Congress on the results of the administration of this limitation and actions taken to strengthen the budget execution, and require that the Comptroller General review the report and provide Congress with his analysis and recommendations; and (8) exempt actions taken to satisfy this limitation from the reporting requirements of the Impoundment Control Act of 1974.

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