Year-End Spending: Reforms Underway But Better Reporting and Oversight Needed

AIMD-98-185 Published: Jul 31, 1998. Publicly Released: Jul 31, 1998.
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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the: (1) actions taken to correct problems with federal yearend spending practices and the award of government contracts; and (2) quarterly obligation data for selected departments and agencies to determine if fourth quarter obligations were higher than obligations in earlier quarters of the fiscal year (FY).

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget To improve oversight of agencies' execution of the budget, OMB should reemphasize compliance with the OMB Circular A-34 requirement that agencies provide quarterly data no later than 20 days after the close of a calendar quarter, and examine quarterly reporting by agencies that varies significantly from planned or historical rates.
Closed - Implemented
FACTS II has been fully implemented as of year-end 2001, with 96 percent of all appropriations accounts covered. FACTS II, which is used to report quarterly and year-end budget execution and accounting data, ensures that this data is monitored and reported consistently. Agencies demonstrated that they are complying with requirements to report quarterly information timely by providing information for 90 percent of all accounts government-wide for the first quarter of fiscal year 2002.
Office of Management and Budget OMB should continue its efforts to integrate budget and accounting reporting at yearend and report periodically on progress made.
Closed - Implemented
The Federal Agencies' Centralized Trial Balance System (FACTS) II allows agencies to report a unified set of accounting data that fulfills all budget execution reporting requirements. As of year-end 2001, FACTS II was fully implemented with data for 96 percent of all appropriations accounts reported. Since fiscal year (FY) 1999, OMB has reported annually on progress agencies have made in reconciling differences in formulation and execution data, in this case for FY 1997 data. The latest report, published in May 2002, shows significant progress with absolute differences of 1 percent government-wide for obligations and outlays for FY 2001. Although differences of 22 percent were reported for obligated balances, 95 percent of these differences occurred in four agencies and were limited to four accounts.

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