Federal Budget Totals Are Understated Because of Current Budget Practices

PAD-81-22: Published: Dec 31, 1980. Publicly Released: Dec 31, 1980.

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The government's practice is to offset certain types of revenues when computing and reporting budget outlays and revenue totals. In addition, budget totals are further underreported because of the off-budget status of certain federal activities.

GAO believes that the government's practice of offsetting federal business-like revenue totals from budget totals significantly understates outlay and revenue totals, and that off-budget activities should be returned to on-budget status. If these changes were made: (1) total outlays would be about $120 billion higher; (2) total revenues would be about $102 billion higher; and (3) the deficit would be about $18 billion higher. Fully disclosing total levels of federal activities would allow Congress to more effectively exercise control over the federal budget.

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