Budget Policy:

Biennial Budgeting for the Federal Government

T-AIMD-94-4: Published: Oct 7, 1993. Publicly Released: Oct 7, 1993.

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GAO discussed the National Performance Review's (NPR) proposals for biennial budgets and appropriations. GAO noted that: (1) under the NPR proposal, the President would submit budget proposals, authorizations, budget resolutions, and appropriations every 2 years; (2) a 2-year budget cycle would be less burdensome and time-consuming and provide more stability to programs; (3) other NPR proposals for government operations will affect the government's ability to forecast future budgeting needs; (4) Congress should test 2-year budgets on stable organizations or programs that do not have budget forecasting or other problems that affect their budgets; (5) NPR believes that biennial budgeting would reduce the time spent on budget preparations and allow more time for program evaluation and oversight; (6) state experiences with biennial budgeting may not be relevant to the federal government, since state budgets fill a different role and are sensitive to different outside pressures; (7) states have shifted from biennial to annual budgeting in order to achieve greater accuracy in forecasting revenues and financial needs, and improve legislative control and response to rapid changes in revenues and program needs; (8) most states with biennial budgets are small or medium-sized; (9) most of the federal budget is not appropriated annually; (10) a 2-year appropriation cycle would change enforcement of congressional policy; and (11) if Congress decides to change to a biennial budget cycle, it should adopt bienniums starting October 1 of odd-numbered years so that budgets are adopted in the first year of a President's term and the first session of each Congress.

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