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Highlights

GAO was requested to examine the feasibility of developing a federal program inventory that would catalog all federal programs. As part of its responsibility under the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, GAO began collecting basic program and budgetary information on most federal programs and activities. This effort resulted in the development of an automated database called the Legislative Authorization, Program and Budgetary Information System (LAPIS). Essentially a federal programs inventory, this database includes information on all federal agencies in which basic organizational, legislative authorization and financial data for programs and activities are maintained below the budget account level. Expansion of this basic inventory data into a comprehensive inventory that would provide specific program and budgetary information to meet a wide range of user needs will take 3 to 5 years to complete. The following steps have been planned to complete the program inventory. By the spring of 1980, the initial inventory of federal programs will be complete with basic information only. Policy area codes and definitions will be developed, and programs within each policy area will be identified. By the spring of 1981, tax expenditure programs and program objective statements for selected agency programs will be added; LAPIS programs will be linked with Federal Domestic Assistance Catalog data and programs; coding will be completed for target groups; and LAPIS programs will be linked with data maintained in the GAO Information Sources Inventories. Over the 1982 through 1984 time period, federal agency objective statements and workload and performance data will be collected, reviewed, and included in the LAPIS file. When this phase of the inventory is complete, a wide range of information will be available on federal agencies and programs for congressional oversight and other purposes. GAO believes that the establishment and maintenance of a single, governmentwide program inventory is technically feasible. However, it is advisable to expand the scope of the inventory gradually, working with the committees and agencies that have the greatest interest in using the service.

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