Budget Issues:

The President's Budget Submission

AFMD-90-35: Published: Oct 27, 1989. Publicly Released: Nov 27, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO analyzed the President's budget submission, focusing on the: (1) customary budget documents and related material, level of budget detail usually available to Congress, and historical pattern of various budget documents; (2) budgetary requirements for the President under existing law; and (3) budget material and level of detail that Congress and GAO need to perform their duties.

GAO found that: (1) presidents have routinely submitted four basic documents in their annual submissions, including the budget, an appendix, a special analysis, and a budget in brief; (2) presidents have submitted additional documents highlighting their policy initiatives and priorities; (3) for fiscal years 1969 through 1973, presidents submitted separate budget documents for the District of Columbia government; (4) in addition to the formal document submissions, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provided a copy of the computer tape containing the detailed budget data; and (5) 53 statutory provisions required the President to include certain information in each budget submission, of which 33 required information on a governmentwide basis or for each agency, and the other 20 were specific to individual programs and agencies. GAO also found that, in order to enhance its usefulness, the budget submission should: (1) report presidential proposals and related information down to at least the budget account level; (2) report information on major activities, programs, accounts, and sometimes subaccounts organized according to cross-cutting categories; (3) include multiyear budget information for the past and the future; (4) not restrict budget information that OMB provided Congress and others to only that which was reported in the President's formal budget submission; (5) accurately and fully disclose past, present, and future costs; and (6) undertake major changes in the structure, concepts, and detail of the budget in a consultative manner.

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