Budgeting for the Future

T-AFMD-91-1: Published: Apr 12, 1991. Publicly Released: Apr 12, 1991.

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GAO discussed: (1) the impact of current budget decisions on the future economic well-being of the United States; and (2) actions the federal government could take to improve the long-term economic outlook. GAO noted that: (1) federal deficits drained private savings that could be devoted to new plants, equipment, and other productive private investments; (2) the current budget provided inadequate highway, education, research, and other public investment funding; and (3) by the end of fiscal year 1991, the federal debt was expected to reach $3.6 trillion, requiring annual interest payments of almost $300 billion. GAO also noted that the federal government should: (1) take additional steps to reduce the federal budget deficit to increase national investment; (2) assess long-term economic effects of budget systems and integrate that information into the decisionmaking and enforcement system; (3) establish a unified budget that reflects the government's total financial operations, including general, trust, and enterprise fund components subdivided to distinguish between operating and capital expenditures; (4) fully accrue federal civilian employee retirement and other employee benefit plan liabilities; (5) recognize federal financial exposure; (6) consider future costs resulting from federal government responsibilities in such areas as the cleanup of nuclear weapons facilities; (7) reevaluate government dependence on the baseline in analyzing whether budget policies achieved their desired results in the outyears; and (8) establish a high-level, bipartisan budget study commission to ensure the improvement of federal budgeting.

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