Audit of Ford-Carter Presidential Transition Expenditures

GGD-78-36: Published: Dec 23, 1977. Publicly Released: Dec 23, 1977.

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The Presidential Transition Act of 1963 authorized the appropriation of $900,000 for each Presidential transition and authorized the use of Government employees on a reimbursable or nonreimbursable basis. October 1976 amendments to the act authorized the appropriation of up to $2 million for the incoming administration and up to $1 million for the outgoing administration. The amendments also deleted the authority to provide Government employees on a nonreimbursable basis. The Gerald Ford-Jimmy Carter transition was the first to test the workability of financing a transition entirely with Presidential Transition Act funds.

As of August 31, 1977, about $1.7 million of the $2 million appropriated for the incoming Carter administration had been obligated, leaving an unobligated balance of about $300,000. At the same time, about $635,000 of the $1 million appropriated for the outgoing Ford administration had been obligated, leaving an unobligated balance of $365,000. Most of the problems encountered by the incoming administration involved use of a checking account in a private bank under control of the Carter/Mondale transition staff. It was more than 4 months after the end of the transition period before the records pertaining to this account were released. False authorizations were used to obtain cash advances of about $18,000 for 69 individuals; this subterfuge was used because the General Services Administration payroll system was not fast enough to accommodate the needs of some staff members for salary payments. A longer presidential transition period provided President Ford with several advantages not available to former Presidents.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: The Congress should amend the Presidential Transition Act to: delete provisions dealing with outgoing administrations, add provisions dealing with military and chartered aircraft, and include approval of expenditures by General Services Administration. All services provided to former Presidents should be covered in the Former Presidents Act. The Congress should amend the Former Presidents Act to: remove restrictions concerning total salaries and travel, clarify other provisions, and make provisions for the services to be furnished a former Vice President.


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