Accrual Budgeting

AFMD-92-49R: Published: Feb 28, 1992. Publicly Released: Feb 28, 1992.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Administration's proposed accrual budget treatment of deposit insurance and pension guarantees. GAO believes that: (1) the current, cash-based budget treatment of deposit insurance and pension guarantees does not disclose the true costs of those programs; (2) although the concept of reporting accruals in the budget is sound and could result in improved disclosure of program costs, the accrual calculations of the Administration's current proposal go well beyond tested accrual accounting conventions and are based on uncertain assumptions and poor data; (3) the Administration should further develop and test the complex accrual projections models to see whether and how to bring these accrual estimates into the budget; (4) if the Administration plans to go forward with its proposal at this time to pursue certain policy objectives rather than to improve budget reporting, the proposal could offset the revenue loss effects of the Administration's tax proposal, since it includes questionable budget scoring procedures; (5) the Administration made the proposal without consulting legislative officials and staff prior to its completion; and (6) the selective application of accrual concepts reinforces the notion that the change was proposed for particular policy purposes rather than for improved financial management.

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