DOD Budget:

Budgeting for Operation and Maintenance Activities

T-NSIAD-97-222: Published: Jul 22, 1997. Publicly Released: Jul 22, 1997.

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GAO discussed the military services' budgeting for operation and maintenance (O&M) activities, focusing on: (1) differences in the services' budget estimates and obligations for some activities within the services' O&M accounts; and (2) the flexibility the services have in obligating O&M funds and congressional visibility over the movement of those funds between various O&M activities.

GAO noted that: (1) the amounts the services obligate for O&M activities rarely agree with the estimates reflected in the budget request and that unplanned events often occur; (2) however, GAO's analysis of certain O&M activities shows a pattern of differences between budget estimates for some of the services' O&M activities and what the services obligate for those O&M activities; (3) when such patterns consistently appear, GAO questions whether the budget estimates accurately portray the services' true needs; (4) the services have a great deal of flexibility as to how they obligate O&M funds, and GAO recognizes the need for flexibility; (5) however, Congress may wish to have greater visibility over Department of Defense appropriations to identify and fully understand variations-and recurring patterns among variations-between the services' budget estimates and actual obligations; (6) greater visibility could enhance and facilitate Congress' budget decision-making; and (7) whether Congress decides to direct changes in the budget execution process depends on the type of information that Congress believes it needs to make its budget authorization and appropriation decisions.

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