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Continuing Resolutions: Uncertainty Limited Management Options and Increased Workload in Selected Agencies

GAO-09-879 Published: Sep 24, 2009. Publicly Released: Oct 01, 2009.
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In all but 3 of the last 30 years, Congress enacted a continuing resolution (CR) allowing federal agencies to continue operating when their regular appropriations had not been passed. CRs appropriate funds generally through rates for operations--funding formulas frequently referenced to the previous years' appropriations acts or a bill that has passed either the House or Senate--instead of a specific amount. GAO was asked to examine how CRs have changed over time, the effect CRs have had on selected agency operations, and actions that have been taken to mitigate the effects. Accordingly, GAO analyzed CR provisions enacted over the past 10 years and did a case study review of selected agencies that have considerable experience with CRs, represent different ways of providing services, and have different operational capabilities. Case study agencies were the Administration for Children and Families, Bureau of Prisons, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Food and Drug Administration, Veterans Benefits Administration, and Veterans Health Administration.

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Accounting periodsAgency missionsAppropriationsBudget obligationsBudget outlaysContinuing budget resolutionsContinuity of operationsContract administrationEmployeesFederal agenciesGrant administrationHiring policiesHuman capital planningSalary increasesStandardsVeterans benefitsWork measurement