Budget Reprogramming:

Opportunities to Improve DOD's Reprogramming Process

NSIAD-89-138: Published: Jul 24, 1989. Publicly Released: Jul 24, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) fiscal year (FY) 1987 reprogramming actions to determine the effectiveness of and ways to improve its budget reprogramming process.

GAO found that: (1) during FY 1987, Congress reviewed 69 DOD reprogramming requests, representing about 0.5 percent of total DOD funds obligated for the affected appropriation accounts; (2) DOD complied with mutually established congressional and DOD guidance for reprogramming requests; (3) the majority of reprogramming requests significantly exceeded the minimum dollar threshold for requiring congressional review; (4) the DOD reprogramming request form lacked key financial data that would completely and accurately describe the status of reprogramming actions; (5) the DOD semiannual report to Congress did not summarize reprogramming by fiscal year or highlight items of interest to Congress, and mixed congressionally approved reprogramming with pending reprogramming requests and DOD-approved requests; (6) congressional committees acted on about half of the FY 1987 reprogramming requests within 90 days, but DOD believed that delays restricted the use of funds for too long and discouraged reprogramming; (7) House committees' use of an exception basis for reprogramming requests resulted in faster processing than by Senate committees, which issued a written decision on each request; and (8) Congress did not have review or notification requirements for DOD shifting of substantial funds, sometimes for purposes other than originally proposed, among subaccounts.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Armed Services Committee has not formally decided the issue, but action does not appear likely.

    Matter: To facilitate the review and reporting of reprogramming actions, the Senate Committee on Armed Services, after consulting with the other responsible committees, may wish to direct the Secretary of Defense to modify: (1) DOD Form 1415, "Reprogramming Action," to add information on the urgency of requests, other relevant data, and a more complete financial status on programs being changed; and (2) DOD Form 1416, "Report of Programs," by adding summary data, distinguishing congressionally reviewed-approved and pending-reprogramming from self-initiated changes and separately identifying nonreprogramming changes.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Senate Armed Service Committee staffers stated the committee believes there are modification actions with significant policy issues and, therefore, they wish to keep the current system in place.

    Matter: If the Senate Committee on Armed Services wishes to accelerate the processing of reprogramming requests, it may wish to consult with other responsible committees and consider processing prior notification reprogramming requests under procedures similar to those followed by House committees. Such action could expedite the process, since requests are considered approved a specified number of days after their receipt, unless a committee raises an objection.

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Armed Services Committee has not formally decided the issue, but action does not appear likely.

    Matter: The Senate Committee on Armed Services may wish to consider requiring the reporting of major shifts of funds within subaccounts. The services could prepare an addendum to their budget backup books to explain significant changes between prior years requested/appropriated amounts and actual obligations.


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