Analyses of Unexpended Balances in the Veterans Administration's Construction, Major Projects Appropriation Account

HRD-78-77: Published: Mar 6, 1978. Publicly Released: Mar 6, 1978.

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The Veterans Administration (VA) is responsible for providing medical care to the Nation's 29.8 million veterans. During the VA annual budget process, funds are appropriated for the line item "Construction, Major Projects" for projects whose estimated cost is $1 million or more. These projects involve construction of new hospitals, domiciliaries, and outpatient facilities and the replacement, extension, alteration, and remodeling of all such facilities.

The unexpended balances in the VA Major Projects appropriation account have grown sharply between fiscal year 1973 and the end of fiscal year 1977. At the end of fiscal year 1973, actual unexpended balances totaled $112 million, whereas at the end of fiscal year 1977, actual unexpended balances reached $708.5 million, an increase of more than 530 percent. Unobligated balances in the Major Projects account have also been steadily increasing since fiscal year 1973. The rise in both unexpended balances and unobligated balances can be attributed to: an expanded construction program, full funding of projects, phased construction of large projects, congressional actions, and VA misestimates. VA has developed a consistent pattern of significantly overestimating obligations and yearend unliquidated obligations and significantly underestimating yearend unobligated balances. Without marked changes in VA estimating procedures, these patterns are likely to continue indefinitely.

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