Budget and Financial Management:

Progress and Agenda for the Future

T-AIMD-96-80: Published: Apr 23, 1996. Publicly Released: Apr 23, 1996.

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GAO discussed how the federal government could improve its financial management and budgets. GAO noted that: (1) over the last 6 years, the government has established a solid framework for improving its financial management through legislative mandates, an accounting standards advisory board, and budget process improvements; (2) the budget process should provide a long-term perspective and link fiscal policy to the long-term economic outlook; (3) the Administration and Congress need to make explicit decisions about investment and consumption spending and identify them within the budget; (4) budget enforcement, accountability, and transparency need to be enhanced, possibly through a look-back procedure and particularly in the areas of deficit and mandatory spending; (5) to enhance budget decisionmaking, agency and governmentwide financial statements audits should provide accurate and reliable financial data on actual spending and program performance; (6) the advisory board has approved eight government accounting standards addressing such areas as budget integrity, operating performance, and systems and control and will complete a stewardship standard by the spring of 1996; (7) the Office of Management and Budget is designing new financial reports to increase information on actual performance and long-term financial prospects; and (8) realigning account structures and selective use of accrual concepts in the budget would link accounting and budgeting and improve budget and management decisionmaking by disclosing the full cost of programs and operations.

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