Progress in Improving Program and Budget Information for Congressional Use

PAD-79-79: Published: Aug 31, 1979. Publicly Released: Aug 31, 1979.

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By law the Comptroller General of the United States develops standard terms and classifications for Federal fiscal, budgetary, and program-related information; identifies congressional needs for such information; monitors recurring reporting requirements of Congress; and makes recommendations for changes in the reporting requirements. Standardizing information facilitates its usefulness to Congress. This requires analysis of Federal concepts and practices to identify inconsistent and confusing procedures and usages.

The GAO analyses of budget concepts and practices over the past year have covered a wide range of questions in several studies and reports to congressional committees including funding procedures and the recording of budget authority in Federal programs, zero-base budgeting analysis, budget outlays, offsetting receipts and collections, and entitlements. Parallel work is being done in developing standard program and budget descriptions. Development of classifications for reporting fiscal, budgetary, and program-related information included the following efforts: (1) continued development, refinement, and revision of an inventory of Federal programs and activities with associated legislative authorization and budget classifications and selected information to support the congressional authorizing committees and other program analysis groups; (2) determination of technical feasibility for a mission budget structure for the Department of Agriculture; and (3) initial compilation of a 359-item Government-wide nutrition, food, and agriculture information base incorporating information on enabling legislation, budget authority, outlays, obligations, program objectives and accomplishments, and user and agency contact points. Work has been aimed at assisting both congressional authorizing and appropriations committees. There is a need for greater participation by the executive branch in compiling, processing, and transmitting to committees information used in preparing the March 15 views and estimates reports. Improvement remains to be done in accounting systems designs.

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