Status of Budget Authority

OGC-86-7: Published: Mar 4, 1986. Publicly Released: Mar 4, 1986.

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As required by the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act, GAO advised Congress of the status of budget authority which the President is withholding contrary to the act.

GAO found that, pursuant to the act, the President reported a deferral of funds appropriated to the Department of Energy (DOE) for the development, operation, and maintenance of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. However, Congress passed supplemental appropriation legislation that expressly disapproved the deferral and directed that the funds be made available for obligation. Under the act, funds proposed for deferral must be made available for obligation if either house of Congress passes an impoundment resolution disapproving the deferral. GAO believes that the current withholding of funds is in violation of both the act and the supplemental appropriation and asked DOE to advise it when the funds would be released. DOE stated that it needed to examine certain legal issues before releasing the funds. The act authorizes the Comptroller General to institute litigation that requires the release of budget authority and to file an explanation with Congress on the action contemplated; however, litigation may not begin until the expiration of 25 calendar days of continuous congressional session after the date on which the explanation was filed. Because of an interruption in the congressional session, GAO may not take litigative action until April 11, 1986.

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