Budget Issues:

Governmentwide Analysis of the Growth in Unexpended Balances

AFMD-86-24BR: Published: Jan 17, 1986. Publicly Released: Jan 17, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO updated its 1978 analysis of unexpended balances in civil and defense departments and agencies and prepared a briefing report to summarize its results.

GAO found that, since the 1978 studies, unexpended balances: (1) have increased 54 percent; (2) are rapidly approaching $1 trillion; (3) are shifting in distribution from civil agencies to defense agencies; and (4) increased between fiscal year (FY) 1981 and FY 1984 at an average rate of 3 percent for civil agencies and 22 percent for defense agencies. GAO identified three major budget process issues: (1) the fiscal implications of growing unexpended balances; (2) agencies not executing budgets as planned; and (3) the poor quality of decisionmaking information. GAO noted that: (1) growing unexpended balances could have potential fiscal impact on deficit reduction goals because they represent substantial future spending that will be difficult to control; and (2) the poor quality of information, particularly the accuracy of estimates of obligated and unobligated balances, may affect agency managers' ability to execute budgets as planned.

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