Budget Trends:

Obligations by Item of Expense, Fiscal Years 1971-1994

AIMD-95-227: Published: Sep 12, 1995. Publicly Released: Sep 12, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on federal spending patterns and trends by object classification, focusing on: (1) average annual growth rates; (2) historical trend data; and (3) fiscal year (FY) 1994 budget accounts by department and agency which obligated $100 million or more.

GAO found that: (1) most object series and classes have shown real growth since FY 1971; (2) interest costs and transfer payments have increased at nearly twice the average annual rate of growth for the U.S. economy; (3) these costs tripled between FY 1971 and FY 1994, while overall federal obligations doubled; (4) operating expenses increased at less than 40 percent of the increase in the gross domestic product over the 24-year period; (5) over the last 12 fiscal years, operating expense categories experienced low or negative increases due to several statutory spending restraints, while interest costs and transfer payments continued to grow; and (6) examination of FY 1994 obligations will help clarify federal spending patterns, the object classification system, and annual growth rates for each object series and class.

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