Budget Process:

Biennial Budgeting for the Federal Government

T-AIMD-94-112: Published: Apr 28, 1994. Publicly Released: Apr 28, 1994.

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GAO discussed proposed legislation that would change the budget process from an annual to a biennial cycle. GAO noted that: (1) the proposed legislation would shift the entire budget cycle from annual to biennial, but shifting the entire cycle of authorizations, budget resolutions, and appropriations may not be necessary; (2) multiyear authorizations help both Congress and the executive branch by providing a longer-term perspective for program operation and appropriations determination; (3) 2-year binding budget resolutions could reduce the burden on Congress, provide more stability for congressional committee planning, and would permit periodic revisions of budget totals and allocations without reducing congressional oversight; and (4) a shift to a biennial appropriations cycle could result in reduced congressional control and oversight and make budget forecasting more difficult, as experienced by several states that cited greater accuracy in estimating revenue and financial needs, improved legislative control over budgetary matters, and better response to rapid changes in revenues and program needs as reasons for changing from biennial to annual budgeting.

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