Environmental Protection Agency:

Comparing Annual Budgets for Science and Technology

T-RCED-00-132: Published: Mar 23, 2000. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO: (1) discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget justification for the Science and Technology account; and (2) presented observations on EPA's budget justifications for fiscal years (FY) 1999, 2000, and 2001.

GAO noted that: (1) for the FY 1999 budget justification, the requested amounts could not be easily compared with amounts requested or enacted for FY 1998 and prior years because the justification did not show how the budget would be distributed among program offices or program components--information needed to link to the prior years' justifications that were constructed along these lines; (2) EPA's FY 2000 budget justification followed the same basic format as used in FY 1999--reflecting the agency's strategic goals and objectives--but EPA revised several of its strategic objectives without explanations or documentation to link the changes to the preceding year's budget; (3) for example, funds were reallocated from one objective to others without identifying the objectives that received the funds or amounts involved; (4) to improve the clarity and comparability of its budget justifications for FY 2000 and FY 2001, EPA included tables that detail, for each objective, how amounts were allocated among key programs; (5) in addition, the agency made available to Congress backup information identifying program offices that would be administering the requested funds; (6) the agency also implemented a new accounting system that records budget data by goals and objectives, which enhances reporting financial data by goals and objectives; (7) for FY 2001 budget justification, EPA used the same strategic goals and objectives that were in the 2000 budget justification, which facilitates comparisons of the two budgets; (8) however, GAO's review of FY 2001 justification identified three aspects that still inhibit comparison with the budget justifications of prior years; (9) in the tables showing the key programs associated with each objective, EPA did not consistently show the same percentage of the funds associated with the programs; (10) for example, in many cases, the amount shown for key programs under an objective is less than the total allocation for the objective, while in one case the sum exceeds the total for the objective; (11) the FY 2001 justification, as did the 2000 justification, does not clearly account for funds transferred from Superfund to the Science and Technology account; and (12) the 2001 budget justification also changes the allocation of certain agency administrative funds across the strategic goals and objectives, without fully identifying how the funds were allocated in previous years.

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