Congressional Directives: Selected Agencies' Processes for Responding to Funding Instructions

GAO-08-209 Published: Jan 31, 2008. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 2008.
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In recent years, congressional concern and public debate have increased about the nature and growing number of earmarks. This report seeks to provide Congress and the public with an understanding of how agencies respond to congressional funding directions by examining how selected executive branch agencies translate these directions from Congress into governmental activities. There have been numerous calls in and out of Congress for earmark reform in response to concerns about the nature and number of earmarks. Both Houses of Congress have taken steps to increase disclosure requirements. The President has also called for earmark reform. In January 2007, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed agencies to collect and submit data to it on fiscal year 2005 earmarks in appropriations bills and certain authorization bills. GAO collected and analyzed information on four agencies' processes (i.e., the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Civil Works programs). Our objectives were to identify, for these agencies, (1) their processes for identifying and categorizing congressional directives; (2) their processes for tracking, implementing, and reporting on congressional directives; and (3) agency officials' views on the trends and impact of congressional directives.

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