Fiscal Exposures: 5 Sources of Risk that Drive Future Spending

Posted on February 26, 2015
In tandem with today’s release of our audit of the federal government’s fiscal year 2014 consolidated financial statements, we want to highlight our work on fiscal exposures. This is a term that describes services or expenditures that Americans may expect, but are not fully reflected in the federal budget—such as Social Security, Medicare, and relief after major natural disasters.

Fiscal exposures are responsibilities, programs, and activities that may legally commit or create the expectation for future spending based on current policy, past practices, or other factors.

While we can’t predict the exact size of these future costs, we know they will be significant. We have identified 5 major sources of risk that may expose the government to future spending, as shown below. Understanding these risks can help us better understand what our future fiscal exposures may be. For more information on fiscal exposures, see our Fiscal Outlook webpage. Read more about our audits of agency financial statements, as well as last year’s consolidated financial statements post, which explains why it’s difficult to render a clean opinion. fiscal_exposures_infographic-final