What GAO Found
About 1.6 percent of the total available budget authority government-wide was cancelled from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2019, averaging $23.9 billion per year. The variations in cancelled appropriations from year to year can be explained largely by trends in four departments. Together they represent 86 percent of the total government-wide cancelled appropriations, but their rate of cancellations were within a few percentage points of the government-wide rate.
Four Agencies Represent the Majority of Total Cancellations from FY2009–FY2019
Cancelled appropriations for the six case study accounts GAO reviewed largely resulted from program-specific factors:
- Actual program needs were less than estimated. For example, actual versus projected troop levels and warfront movements can contribute to cancelled appropriations at the Department of Defense (DOD).
- Some program funds are only for specific purposes. For example, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families officials reported that some states declined funding for a teen sex and pregnancy prevention program, and the agency did not have the authority to redirect those funds for other purposes.
- Some programs’ costs are more unpredictable than others. Contract and acquisition costs can be unpredictable . When final costs are less than originally estimated, agencies may have to cancel the difference. In contrast, agencies with a higher proportion of personnel expenses, which are relatively predictable, can more easily avoid cancelled appropriations.
All of GAO’s case study agencies have procedures in place to help limit discretionary cancelled appropriations. For example, the Army established a program that helps reduce cancelled appropriations by providing management with metrics and tools to help prevent them.
Why GAO Did This Study
Laws limit the time that agencies have available to use fixed-term appropriations for obligations and expenditures. However, agencies do not always obligate and outlay these funds in time, which ultimately results in cancelled appropriations. Efforts to limit the amount of cancelled appropriations result in more accurate budget estimation and fiscal projections, a more efficient appropriations process, and better service to the public.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 includes a provision for GAO to review the status of cancelled appropriations. This report addresses (1) the extent of appropriations that were cancelled in fiscal years 2009 through 2019 and how the rate of cancelled appropriations and other characteristics differ across agencies, (2) factors that contribute to the level of cancelled appropriations in selected accounts at agencies, and (3) efforts selected agencies make to prevent the cancellation of funds.
To provide government-wide trends, GAO analyzed Department of the Treasury and Office of Management and Budget data. GAO also analyzed related documents from six case study accounts at DOD, HHS, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and interviewed officials at these agencies. The selected accounts included the three with the most cancelled appropriations government-wide and three additional accounts to represent the major categories of federal spending: personnel, acquisitions, grants, and contracts.
For more information, contact Jeff Arkin at (202) 512-6806 or email@example.com.
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- Two Indicted for $2 Million Scheme that Defrauded Over 20 InvestorsBy Sam NewsMay 12, 2021An indictment charging a District of Columbia man and Connecticut woman with perpetrating an advance fee and investment fraud scheme that defrauded more than 20 victims of more than $2 million was unsealed today in the District of Columbia.[Read More…]
- Seven North Carolina Tax Preparers Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud the IRSBy Sam NewsJanuary 12, 2021Seven Charlotte, North Carolina tax return preparers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States by preparing and filing false tax returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, U.S. Attorney R. Andrew Murray for the Western District of North Carolina, and Special Agent in Charge Matthew D. Line of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).[Read More…]
- Missile Defense: Observations on Ground-based Midcourse Defense Acquisition Challenges and Potential Contract Strategy ChangesBy Sam NewsOctober 21, 2020The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is developing a system to defend the U.S. from long-range missile attacks. As MDA continues to develop this system, called Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD), it has opportunities to incorporate into its approach lessons learned from over 2 decades of system development. MDA has made progress in developing and fielding elements of the GMD system. For example, MDA is constructing a new missile field to expand the fleet of interceptors. However, MDA has also experienced significant setbacks. Most recently, the Department of Defense canceled development of a key GMD element, the Redesigned Kill Vehicle, in 2019 because of fundamental problems with the system's design. Ongoing Construction of a New Ground-based Midcourse Defense Interceptor Field (July 16, 2019) Over the years, GAO has identified practices that MDA could apply to the GMD program to improve acquisition outcomes, such as: Using knowledge-based acquisition practices Involving stakeholders early and often Providing effective oversight Promoting competition Performing robust testing GAO has also made numerous recommendations to improve MDA's acquisition outcomes and reduce risk. As of July 2020, the department has concurred with most of the recommendations GAO made since MDA's inception in 2002. Although the department has implemented many of the recommendations, it has further opportunities to implement the remaining open recommendations and apply lessons learned on a major, new effort to develop a next-generation GMD interceptor. Since the late 1990s, DOD has executed the GMD program through a prime contractor responsible for developing and integrating the entire weapon system. MDA is considering taking over these responsibilities for GMD for the next phase of the program. GAO found that this approach offers potential benefits to the agency, such as more direct control over and greater insight into GMD's cost, schedule, and performance. However, the approach has some challenges that, if not addressed, could outweigh the benefits. For example, MDA may encounter challenges obtaining the technical data and staffing levels necessary to manage this complex weapon system, which could ultimately affect its availability or readiness. As of October 2020, MDA has not yet determined an acquisition strategy for the next phase of the GMD program. The GMD system aims to defend the U.S. against ballistic missile attacks from rogue states like North Korea or Iran. DOD has been developing this system since the 1990s and has spent $53 billion on the system so far. GMD is a complex system that includes interceptors and a ground system, and MDA has largely relied on a contractor, Boeing, to manage development and system integration. MDA is considering moving away from this approach as the program embarks on developing a key element of the GMD, a new interceptor. The House Armed Services Committee included a provision in a report for GAO to assess the GMD contract structure and identify potential opportunities to improve government management and contractor accountability. This report addresses (1) the lessons learned from challenges MDA encountered acquiring the GMD system and (2) the potential benefits and risks of MDA taking over system integration responsibilities for GMD. To conduct this work, GAO reviewed GMD program documentation, prior GAO reports on missile defense, GAO interviews with other DOD components, and expert panel reviews of GMD. GAO also spoke with officials from MDA and other DOD components. GAO has 17 open recommendations aimed at improving missile defense acquisition outcomes and reducing risk. Recently, DOD has taken steps to address some of these open recommendations, but further action is needed to fully implement the remaining recommendations. For more information, contact W. William Russell at (202) 512-4841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty in False Returns SchemeBy Sam NewsMay 12, 2021A Georgia woman pleaded guilty today to preparing false tax returns for clients.[Read More…]
- Operation Legend: Case of the DayBy Sam NewsSeptember 17, 2020Each weekday, the Department of Justice will highlight a case that has resulted from Operation Legend. Today’s case is out of the Western District of Missouri. Operation Legend launched in Kansas City on July 8, 2020, in response to the city facing increased homicide and non-fatal shooting rates.[Read More…]
- Bolivia Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020Do not travel to Bolivia [Read More…]
- Music “tourist” sent to prison for cocaine traffickingBy Sam NewsIn Justice NewsMay 2, 2021A 40-year-old felon from [Read More…]
- Brunei Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020Exercise increased [Read More…]
- Three Peruvian Nationals Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud Thousands of Spanish-Speaking U.S. ResidentsBy Sam NewsMay 14, 2021Three Peruvian nationals pleaded guilty to operating a series of call centers in Peru that defrauded Spanish-speaking U.S. residents by threatening, among other things, arrest and deportation.[Read More…]
- New U.S. Embassy in London Receives Award of Excellence from Council on Tall Buildings and Urban HabitatBy Sam NewsJanuary 21, 2021
- Department Press Briefing – March 5, 2021By Sam NewsMarch 5, 2021Ned Price, Department [Read More…]