Rural Construction and Improvement Loan Programs Operated by the Farmers Home Administration

B-115398.51: Sep 28, 1976

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In response to a letter dated August 12, 1976, GAO reviewed the Farmers Home Administration's (FmHA) operation of the rural construction and improvement loan programs pursuant to sections 502 and 504 of the Housing Act of 1949, as amended.

It has been our view that a failure to obligate the full amount of an appropriation does not, per se, constitute a withholding of budget authority within the meaning of the Impoundment Control Act. There must be sufficient evidence of behavior on the part of the responsible Executive agency officials that demonstrates an intention to refrain from obligating available budget authority. In this connection, we are informed that sums obligated for the section 502 program in Fiscal Year 1976 total almost $2.3 billion out of a recommended level of all title V insured loans of about $2.7 billion for the same period. Obligations for the section 504 program amounted to about $6 million of a recommended level of $20 million. FmHA informs us that an historically low loan application level accounts for the relatively small obligation of funds under section 504. Given what we consider to be reasonable levels of operation under the circumstances, and absent evidence of any intention to obligate less than the sums recommended by the Congress, we are unable to say that impoundments of the sections 502 and 504 program funds exist.