Federal Accounting and Reporting:

Framework for Assessing the Reliability of Budget Execution Data Is Not Yet Fully Implemented

GAO-01-43: Published: Oct 6, 2000. Publicly Released: Oct 6, 2000.

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Beginning with fiscal year (FY) 1998, federal agencies were required to prepare a Statement of Budgetary Resources (SBR) as one of their primary financial statements. GAO's review of 22 major budgetary accounts at 10 agencies, constituting approximately 77 percent of FY 1999 net outlays, showed that the federal accounting and reporting framework was properly implemented for 14 accounts constituting 67 percent of the total outlays reviewed. In addition to the assurances over the budget execution data that were provided by the successful implementation of the framework at these agencies, the preparation and audit of the SBR has yielded other benefits at federal agencies. However, problems in implementing the framework have been an impediment to determining the reliability of budget execution information for the remainder of the accounts reviewed. Although GAO found that some audit improvements could be made, its review of the financial statement audits covering the 22 major budgetary accounts showed that they were generally adequate.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OMB modified its guidance in Circular A-34, Instructions on Budget Execution, to ensure that the presentation of expired budget authority is reported as required by guidance between the SBR and the President's Budget Program and Financing Schedules.

    Recommendation: As the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) considers improvements in reporting under the SBR, the Director of OMB should modify guidance related to the form and content of agency financial statements as well as guidance in Circular A-34, Instructions on Budget Execution, to address the differences between the presentation of budgetary amounts in the SBR and the "actual" column in the Program and Financing (P&F) Schedule of the President's Budget as discussed in this report. The item that should be addressed is expired budget authority.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OMB modified its guidance in Circular A-34, Instructions on Budget Execution, to ensure that agencies' obligation limitations are reported consistently between the SBR and the President's Budget Program and Financing Schedules.

    Recommendation: As OMB considers improvements in reporting under the SBR, the Director of OMB should modify guidance related to the form and content of agency financial statements as well as guidance in Circular A-34, Instructions on Budget Execution, to address the differences between the presentation of budgetary amounts in the SBR and the "actual" column in the P&F Schedule of the President's Budget as discussed in this report. The item that should be addressed is limitations on obligations.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OMB modified its guidance in Circular A-34, Instructions on Budget Execution, to ensure that the presentation of trust funds' resources determined to be unavailable for obligation are reported consistently between the SBR and the President's Budget Program and Financing Schedules.

    Recommendation: As OMB considers improvements in reporting under the SBR, the Director of OMB should modify guidance related to the form and content of agency financial statements as well as guidance in Circular A-34, Instructions on Budget Execution, to address the differences between the presentation of budgetary amounts in the SBR and the "actual" column in the P&F Schedule of the President's Budget as discussed in this report. The item that should be addressed is trust fund presentation of amounts that OMB considers unavailable for obligation.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OMB modified the guidance in Bulletin No. 01-09, Form and Content of Agency Financial Statements, to require agencies to disclose differences between amounts reported on the SBR and amounts reported in the President's Budget Program and Financing Schedules.

    Recommendation: As OMB considers improvements in reporting under the SBR, the Director of OMB should revise guidance related to agencies' explanation and disclosure of differences in summary totals between the SBR and the President's Budget actuals to provide more specific instructions on how these amounts should be reconciled. At a minimum, revised guidance should require the agency to provide enough information to allow users to understand the nature and amount of these differences.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

 

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