Budget Issues:

Inventory of Accounts With Spending Authority and Permanent Appropriations, 1996

AIMD-96-79: Published: May 31, 1996. Publicly Released: Jul 1, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO updated its 1987 inventory of accounts with spending authority and permanent appropriations, known as backdoor authority, focusing on: (1) whether each reported account is subject to or exempt from sequestration or subject to any special rules or limitations under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985; and (2) changes in the number and dollar amounts of such accounts.

GAO found that: (1) the number of departments and agencies with backdoor authority to fund their programs and activities has increased since 1987; (2) the amounts of backdoor authority used increased almost 10 percent from fiscal year (FY) 1985 to FY 1994; (3) $983 billion in permanent appropriations, $42 billion in contract authority, $16 billion in borrowing authority, and $124 billion of offsetting collections from nonfederal sources were used to finance programs in FY 1994; (4) 558 accounts in the FY 1996 budget have been provided with backdoor authority; (5) 113 of the 558 FY 1996 accounts have more than one type of backdoor authority; (6) the Social Security Administration, the Departments of the Treasury, Transportation, and Agriculture, and the Postal Service used the largest amounts of backdoor authorities in FY 1994; (7) the use of backdoor authority is concentrated in nonrevolving trust fund accounts and public enterprise fund accounts; and (8) increases in backdoor spending occurred in older accounts, and most increases resulted from permanent appropriations enacted more than 30 years ago.

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