Expenditure Analyses by GAO:

An Idea Whose Time Had Not Arrived

Published: Jan 1, 1980. Publicly Released: Jan 1, 1980.

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This article appeared in the GAO Review, Vol. 15, Issue 4, Fall 1980. With the passage of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, Congress acted to involve GAO in expenditure analysis of executive agencies and government corporations. Through section 206 of the Act, Congress hoped to initiate GAO investigations of whether public funds have been efficiently administered and expended. However, GAO was never granted the funds to carry out this section's provisions. There was considerable confusion within GAO about how the section should be interpreted and acted upon. Some saw the necessity for a complete reorganization of GAO; others saw the section as requiring a purely accounting or auditing type of expenditure analysis without any inquiry into problems of general administration. In 1945 the Government Corporations Control Act authorized GAO to audit Government corporations. Not until the tenure of Elmer B. Staats did such issues as management analysis and, eventually, program evauation take center stage at GAO. The history of the Legislative Reorganization Act shows the foresight and vision of many GAO officials and Congress. But in 1946, section 206 was an idea whose time had not yet arrived.

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