Timing of Obligations by Quarter

B-198666: May 20, 1980

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Thomas H. Armstrong
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GAO reviewed a proposed bill which requires that not more than one-fourth of the budget authority of any department or agency of the executive branch may be obligated during the last quarter of a fiscal year. GAO reported on its findings before the Subcommittee on Legislation and National Security, Committee on Government Operations. GAO recommended that the limit be set at 20 percent in the last two months as proposed in another bill rather than 25 percent in the last quarter. However, GAO also noted that the element critical to solving the problem is management attention to quality--not quantity--of spending. Either limit could be used to convey concern to try to bring about the needed emphasis on the budget execution process.