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Highlights

The Impoundment Control Act of 1974 requires the President to report promptly to Congress all withholdings of budget authority and to abide by the outcome of the congressional impoundment review process. The act has generally worked well, but possible refinements in the law and its administration were recommended. The Office of Management and Budget should specify the duration of proposed partial-year deferrals, identify impoundments of congressional add-ons to Executive branch budget requests, note whether previous impoundments have been proposed for each program, and improve the timeliness of presidential impoundment reports. Legislative recommendations included repeal of the requirement to report routine impoundments and provision for a means to reduce the 45-day period during which funds can be withheld pending rescission requests. The act should be amended to: (1) require a statement of the exact duration of proposed partial-year deferrals; (2) eliminate the 25-day waiting period before the Comptroller General can initiate legal proceedings to compel the release of impounded budget authority; and (3) specify when impoundments may be proposed after prior impoundments for the same program have been rejected by Congress. A possible legislative approach would permit an expedited congressional review of proposed curtailments under which the review procedure would not be self-executing; Congress would specify in other statutes those programs to be subject to the procedure.

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