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.

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