Military Assistance:

Improving the Way Congress Is Notified of Program Changes

NSIAD-89-4: Published: Nov 22, 1988. Publicly Released: Nov 22, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO assessed the Department of Defense's (DOD) congressional notification procedures for reprogramming of foreign military assistance funds to determine whether changes in the process would provide Congress with better information on significant reprogramming without undue administrative burden.

GAO found that: (1) the Foreign Assistance Act required the executive branch to notify Congress of intended reprogramming of military aid 15 days prior to obligating funds for the Military Assistance Program (MAP) and the International Military Education and Training (IMET) Program; (2) foreign country budget levels were usually higher than the allocated levels because Congress traditionally appropriated less than requested; (3) changing the baseline would lower the reporting threshold and increase DOD reprogramming notifications submitted each year, but would provide Congress with more accurate information on the intended use of the funds; (4) increasing a threshold for IMET would reduce the number of notifications required; (5) although 43 of the 77 reprogrammings in 1987 were for increases in IMET, 11 were for comparatively small amounts; and (6) if the act had required the executive branch to report program reductions, and if DOD had excluded IMET reductions of less than $25,000, DOD would have reported 24 more reprogrammings in 1987.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The FY 1990 Foreign Aid Appropriations Act, and accompanying report, enacted most of the recommendations. Congress made the 653(a) report the baseline by defining "justified" as the amount specifically obligated for specific programs and activities. While retaining the amounts in the congressional presentation document, the program baselines take precedence on reprogramming activities.

    Matter: Congress may wish to: (1) consider establishing the section 653(a) allocation report as the funding baseline, or justification, for notifying Congress of military aid reprogrammings; and (2) require that reductions be reported at the end of the fiscal year.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: No known action taken to date by Congress.

    Matter: Congress may also wish to consider including the $25,000 threshold for notifying Congress of increases in IMET in the annual appropriations act.


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