Deferrals of Budget Authority According to the Impoundment Control Act

OGC-82-12: Published: May 17, 1982. Publicly Released: May 17, 1982.

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GAO reviewed the four deferrals of budget authority for the Department of Defense (DOD) totaling $320 million, which should have been reported to Congress pursuant to applicable legislation.

GAO found that, based on a review of budget documents and discussions with DOD officials, it is clear that the primary reason for withholding the funds is the DOD concern over the disparity between the appropriations and the authorized funding levels. In addition, although program-related reasons may exist to support the withholdings, the documents examined do not indicate any such justifications. To the contrary, those documents which mention the reasons for the withholdings allude solely to the disparity between the authorized and appropriated funding levels. Budget authority consist of the full amount appropriated, and it is not limited by an earlier authorization of a lesser amount. Thus, the withholdings in the four accounts of the amounts by which the appropriations exceed the authorization fall within the statutory definition of deferral. The withholdings are not illegal and may be prudent from the DOD viewpoint; nevertheless, they were required to be reported. The accounts involved are Navy shipbuilding and conversion; Navy aircraft procurement; Air Force operations and maintenance; and Air Force research, development, test, and evaluation.

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