Budget Issues

Budget Enforcement Compliance Report Gao ID: AIMD-99-100 April 1, 1999

This report assesses compliance by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) with the requirements of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1995. GAO's assessment covers OMB and CBO reports issued for legislation enacted during the 2nd session of the 105th Congress, which ended on October 21, 1998.

GAO noted that: (1) CBO and OMB substantially complied with the act; (2) however, some of the required OMB reports were issued late; (3) the Deficit Control Act (DCA) sets a specific timetable for issuance of OMB reports; (4) by law, OMB must issue sequestration reports at three specific times during the calendar year: (a) the preview report when the President submits his budget; (b) the update on August 20; and (c) the final report 15 days after the end of a congressional session; (5) OMB issued its fiscal year (FY) 1999 sequestration update report on August 26, 1998--6 days late; (6) its final report was issued December 10, 1998--35 days later than the required date of November 5, 1998; (7) if OMB had issued its report on the required date, the report would have excluded, at a minimum, nine pieces of legislation that were passed by Congress but that had not been signed by the President before DCA's 15-day deadline; (8) assuming no other changes in the issuance of other scoring reports, the final sequestration report would not have included the impact of 5 of the appropriations acts and 18 of the 51 pieces of pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) legislation; (9) as was the case for FY 1997 and FY 1998, OMB issued many of its FY 1999 scorekeeping reports late; (10) all 7 of its discretionary scorekeeping reports and 41 of its 51 PAYGO scorekeeping reports were issued later than the time specified by law; (11) the DCA requires OMB to issue scorekeeping reports within 7 working days after enactment; (12) on average, the 1999 reports were issued 11.2 working days after enactment; (13) of the 58 reports issued prior to the issuance of the final sequestration report, 83 percent were issued late, a decline in timeliness from FY 1998 and FY 1997 reports; (14) half of the 1998 reports and about 70 percent of the 1997 reports were issued late; (15) according to OMB, part of the reason for the increased delay was the volume of legislation enacted at the end of this session of Congress; (16) five of the seven discretionary acts were enacted in the last 2 weeks of the session; (17) one-third of the PAYGO legislation was enacted in the last 2 weeks of the session or before the statutory date for OMB's final sequestration report; (18) GAO found several implementation issues in which OMB and CBO differed in: (a) PAYGO scorekeeping; (b) appropriations scoring; and (c) cap adjustments; and (19) the use of emergency spending designations was different this year than in prior years.

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