National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

Unobligated Carryover Balances for Fiscal Year 1997

RCED-97-143R: Published: Apr 30, 1997. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 1997.

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GAO provided information on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) unobligated carryover balances for fiscal year (FY) 1997.

GAO noted that: (1) NOAA had an unobligated carryover balance of about $257.2 million at the end of FY 1996 that it carried into FY 1997; (2) the largest carryover balances were in the fisheries programs, $35.8 million, and the satellite programs, $105 million; (3) according to NOAA, most of the fisheries programs' carryover balance was attributable to emergency supplemental funds, which were released in FY 1995 for disaster relief for depleted fisheries; (4) the satellite programs' carryover balance resulted from contractor delays and a review by the Department of Commerce's Inspector General, which recommended that NOAA not transfer additional funding authority to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which procures and launches NOAA's weather satellites, until needed for contacts; (5) the satellite programs' carryover balance was reduced from $105 million to $84.5 million at the beginning of FY 1997, primarily as a result of a $20 million congressional rescission; (6) however, GAO found that this amount did not include about $75.6 million in unobligated authority that resided with NASA at the beginning of FY 1997; (7) thus, the satellite programs had a total of $160.1 million in unobligated funds at the beginning of FY 1997; (8) after considering the satellite programs' total estimated funding and projected obligations through FY 1998, GAO estimates that NOAA will have about $111.1 million in unobligated funds at the end of FY 1998; (9) in the past, NOAA's budget provided NASA with 3 months of forward-funding from its unobligated balance to pay for NASA's expenses due in the first quarter of the following fiscal year; (10) at the end of GAO's review, NOAA said that as a result of GAO's work, it would forward-fund only 1 month of new budget authority, which GAO estimated would be about $37 million; (11) therefore, using 1 month of forward funding, GAO estimates that NOAA will have about $74.1 million in unobligated funds that could be considered excess at the end of FY 1998; (12) in addition, about $4.4 million in unobligated carryover funds is available in two special funds that were initially established to promote fisheries and to aid the Gulf of Mexico shrimp industry after Hurricane Andrew; (13) these funds could be rescinded or used to reduce NOAA's FY 1998 budget request; and (14) another $2.6 million in unobligated carryover funds and $1.5 million in requested funds would be available if the Congress decides not to approve the purchase of new sonar equipment for the NOAA's fleet.

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