Budget Issues:

Analysis of Unexpended Balances at Selected Civil Agencies

AFMD-86-76BR: Published: Sep 30, 1986. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed five civil agencies to: (1) identify the factors that affect the levels of unexpended balances; (2) identify any patterns in unexpended balances among agencies and programs; and (3) determine whether civil spending and obligation rates are stable.

GAO found that: (1) unobligated balances existed for various reasons, such as project cancellations, contract award delays, funding methods, economic conditions, Presidential deferrals, and erratic appropriations; (2) the reason for the largest single unobligated balance, $47.6 billion, was that agencies committed funds to specific programs or projects but did not obligate the funds due to unexecuted contracts; (3) four agencies had stable obligation rates from fiscal years 1981 through 1985; (4) three agencies experienced stable spending rates, varying less than 6 percent each year, while two agencies had less stable spending rates for 3 years during the review, with variations of 20 to 26 percent; and (5) while unexpended balances continued to grow in 1985, almost all of the growth occurred in the unobligated portion of unexpended balances, increasing 122 percent during the 4-year period.

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