Presidential Inaugurations:

Legislation Is Needed To Clarify Agencies' Support Roles

GGD-87-10: Published: Feb 27, 1987. Publicly Released: Mar 25, 1987.

Additional Materials:


J. William Gadsby
(202) 512-8387


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

In response to a congressional request, GAO examined: (1) the adequacy of federal agencies' statutory authority to use their resources to support presidential inaugural activities; and (2) whether there is a need for legislation to clarify the policy on the use of federal resources to support future inaugurations.

GAO found that: (1) Congress should enact legislation to clarify federal agencies' roles in inaugural planning and support activities, the nature of the inaugural event, and the Presidential Inaugural Committee's statutory basis for future inaugurations; (2) both the Department of Defense and the General Services Administration, which have broad roles in the inaugural activities, lack clear statutory authority to provide certain types of support; and (3) under existing law, agencies may not use federal funds to support private concerns, and federal personnel may not perform services for private concerns even if they compensate or reimburse the government in kind.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The fiscal year 1989 Department of Defense (DOD) Authorization Act provided guidance for DOD, but not other federal agencies. With Senator Proxmire's retirement, future corrective action is very unlikely as evidenced by the lack of interest in the 1989 inauguration.

    Matter: Congress should enact legislation to clearly establish: (1) the extent to which inaugural functions and activities are to be publicly financed either through specific appropriations or through assistance provided by departments and agencies; and (2) that the disbursement of public funds or the furnishing of assistance over and above the extent authorized shall constitute a violation of the Antideficiency Act in the amount of such overdisbursement or of the full cost of assistance provided, unless prompt reimbursement is made by the political party of the newly elected President or from other private funds.


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Feb 18, 2021

Nov 16, 2020

Nov 10, 2020

Nov 9, 2020

Nov 6, 2020

Oct 13, 2020

Sep 30, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here