Budget Issues:

Agency Data Supporting Capital Project Funding Requests Could Be Improved

GAO-01-770: Published: Jun 8, 2001. Publicly Released: Jun 8, 2001.


Susan J. Irving
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During its review of 2001 agency budget justifications, GAO found several capital project funding requests that lacked total project cost information and for which it was not always clear whether requested funding would provide a useful, stand-alone asset. Without this information, Congress cannot consider the full costs of proposed commitments or determine if it is funding an asset that will be useful without additional funding. This report provides several examples of agency capital project funding request information that could be improved.

Status Legend:

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  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendation for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Director, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), should ensure that agencies are directed to improve the information Congress receives for making funding decisions. The budget justifications provided by agencies each fiscal year should contain the following for each capital project: a total project cost estimate (except when not possible for high technology projects), details of all prior funding, a description of how the funding was used and is planned to be used for each fiscal year, and the estimated time frame for completion. The description of how requested funding will be used should be in sufficient detail so that it is clear whether full funding for stand-alone assets is being requested. Capital asset plans, which are required by OMB for major acquisitions, and long-term agency capital plans, which are encouraged by OMB, could also be required as supplemental information to the agency budget justifications.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The new version of OMB Circular A-11, Preparing and Submitting Budget Estimates, added a new requirement that agencies should provide Congress with information to assess current and proposed capital projects that includes the current or proposed use of incremental or full funding.

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