Federal Year-End Spending:

Symptom of a Larger Problem

PAD-81-18: Published: Oct 23, 1980. Publicly Released: Nov 14, 1980.

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GAO was asked to determine the spending patterns of each major agency and department in selected object classes for fiscal years 1977, 1978, and 1979.

GAO found that Government-wide fourth quarter spending surges continue to exist, although they have declined from 33 percent in the last quarter of fiscal year 1977 to 29 percent at the end of fiscal year 1979. However, the decline can be misleading since some agencies consistently obligated high amounts to certain object classes in the last quarter and month of fiscal years 1977, 1978, and 1979. Agencies that obligated one third or more of their total annual obligations in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 1979 had high yearend obligations in the same recurring object classes. The classes were: (1) grants, subsidies, and contributions; (2) other services; (3) lands and structures; and (4) investments and loans. The validity of available data was questionable since not all obligations were reported and some were not reported in a timely manner. Yearend surges were a symptom of a larger problem, the failure of agencies and the Office of Management and Budget to effectively monitor and manage the execution of the budget as required by the Antideficiency Act.

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