Shall Full Funding Be Applied to the Rental Assistance and Family Planning Programs?

PAD-80-16: Published: Feb 12, 1980. Publicly Released: Feb 22, 1980.

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A Federal program is considered to be a fully funded program if the budget authority requested and made available is for the total cost of that program to be initiated in the budget year. Full funding has been traditionally associated with major procurement and construction activities. However, GAO believes it has potential for application to subsidy and social programs and some research and development. At the request of the House Budget Process Task Force, GAO did a review of further implementation of full funding which included case studies of two programs with full funding potential.

The main problem with the current method of funding the Farmers Home Administration's Rental Assistance Program was inadequate disclosure of funding requirements. The requirement to make appropriations in the future for commitments entered in the past was not clear in the budget information presented to Congress. Because of this, Congress had little control over future appropriations of budget authority. Full funding would improve disclosure of the program's total funding requirements and increase the Congress' control over appropriations of budget authority by allowing the Congress to act on the full program level and cost at a time when it has some discretion to make changes, rather than on a piecemeal basis. Congress would see the total funding requirement before the commitment was made and would not have to provide future budget authority for the same budget year program. The disadvantages of full funding include a possible increase of unobligated balances which would have to be monitored. GAO felt that the disadvantages would be minimal. Full funding the Family Planning Program would affect Congress in several ways. However, the effect would be minimal on disclosure of total costs and future control of spending, the two usual advantages of full funding. In addition, some of the current annual program control by Congress would be lost. Therefore, GAO did not believe that the Family Planning Program was a prime candidate for full funding.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The recommendation is still valid but because of the budget impact the Department of Agriculture will not change, therefore, the recommendation serves no purpose.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should draft legislation to establish a fully funded separate general fund appropriation account to fund the Rental Assistance Program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture


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