National Institute of Standards and Technology:

Carryover Balances for the Advanced Technology Program

RCED-00-71R: Published: Mar 2, 2000. Publicly Released: Mar 2, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the carry over balances in the Department of Commerce's Advanced Technology Program (ATP), focusing on: (1) balances in the program for fiscal years 1995 through 1999; and (2) any balances that might exist at the end of fiscal year (FY) 2000 that could be used as offsets for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) programs in the FY 2001 budget.

GAO noted that: (1) ATP carried over balances in excess of $400 million in each of the fiscal years 1995 through 1999; (2) these balances remained at this level even though the program's annual budget authority was considerably reduced during that time--from $341 million in FY 1995 to $197 million in FY 1999; (3) these balances remained above $400 million for several reasons, including full (or forward) funding of multiyear projects that began prior to FY 1997 and a backlog of projects that had been completed but for which funds had not been liquidated; (4) by far the largest portion of ATP's carryover balances is the unliquidated funds--totalling $309 million in FY 1995 and $333 million in FY 1999; (5) ATP has reduced the unobligated portion of its carryover balances from a high of $136 million in FY 1995 to a low of $15 million in FY 1997; (6) in FY 1999, the unobligated balance was $68 million; (7) ATP officials estimate that the program will carry over approximately $262 million at the end of FY 2000, about $36.5 million of which is expected to remain unobligated and available to offset NIST's 2001 budget request; (8) the remaining $225.3 million represents funds that have been obligated for projects but that will remain unliquidated (or unspent) at the end of FY 2000; (9) ATP officials explained that the unliquidated $225.3 million will be needed for the continued funding of ongoing multiyear research projects; (10) GAO's analysis of ATP project data confirms their explanation since funding carried over for ongoing projects represented about 88 percent of ATP's unliquidated balance at the end of calendar year 1999; and (11) they justify their estimate of the lower than usual balance on the basis of new procedures that NIST's Grant Office has put in place for more timely liquidation of account balances and the fact that a large number of projects will be ending and therefore liquidated in FY 2000.

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