oversight

Budget Issues Issue Area--Active Assignments

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-01-02.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

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                                   Accounting and Information
GAO                                Management Division



January 1997
                                   Budget Issues Issue
                                   Area

                                   Active Assignments




GAO/AA-97-21(l)
Foreword


           This report was prepared primarily to inform Congressional members and
           key staff of ongoing assignments in the General Accounting Office's
           Budget Issues issue area. This report contains assignments that were
           ongoing as of January 2, 1997, and presents a brief background statement
           and a list of key questions to be answered on each assignment. The report
           will be issued quarterly.

           This report was compiled from information available in GAO'S internal
           management information systems. Because the information was
           downloaded from computerized data bases intended for internal use, some
           information may appear in abbreviated form.

           If you have questions or would like additional information about
           assignments listed, please contact Paul Posner, Director, on
           (202) 512-9573; or Susan Irving, Associate Director, on (202) 512-9142.




           Page 1                                                       GAO/AA·97.21(1)
Contents

                                                                                        Page
DEFICIT REDUcnON
         ,COMPLIANCE WITIl TIlE BUDGET ENFORCEMENT ACf OF 1990. FISCAL YEAR 1997.
   N,w   , BUDGETARY IMPLICAnONS OF SELECTED GAO WORK FOR FISCAL YEAR 1998.
   N,w   ,1997 UPDAlE OF LONG-TERM FISCAL POLICY MODEL.
IMPROVING BUDGET CHOICES
   N,w   ,REVIEW OF THE ACCOUNTABILITY AND RELIABILITY OF FEE-BASED ?ROGRAMS.              2
   N,w   ,INVESTING FEDERAL RETIREMENT TRUST FUNDS IN EQUITIES.                            2
   N,w   ,CREDIT REFORM: LESSI0NS LEARNED FROM BUDGET TREATMENT OF CREDIT ESTIMATES.       2
   N,w   , BUDGETARY TREATMENT OF FEDERAL INSURANCE ?ROGRAMS.                              3
   N,w   ,BUDGETING FOR RESULTS: ?AST FEDERAL ?ERFORMANCE BUDGETING INI11ATIVES OFFER      3
          IMJ'LICAnONS FOR G?RA.
Budget Issues




DEFICIT REDUCTION
    1TIl.E: COMPUANCE WITH THE BUDGET ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 1990, FISCAL YEAR 1997 (935208)




    1TIl.E: BUDGETARY IMPLICATIONS OF SELECTED GAO WORK FOR FISCAL YEAR 1998 (935213)

            BACKGROUND: We previously defined the deficit as a serious problem (AIMD/OCE-95-II9. OGC-92-2) and
            identified ways to reduce the deficit (GAOIOCG-95-2. OCG-96-5). Congressional staff stated this work is most
            valuable biennially at the beginning of each new Congress. We will produce a compendium in early 1997 that
            contains both new and updated options based on GAO's work.
           KEY QUESTIONS: (1) What GAO work (findings. recommendations, conclusions) should be included as new
           deficit reduction options? (2) What options proposed in last year's report are still relevant and should be
           updated?




    1TIl.E: 1997 UPDATE OF LONG-TERM FISCAL POLICY MODEL (935216)

           BACKGROUND: In 1992. GAO published a report examining the long-term economic effects of large deficits
           using a macroeconomic model originally developed by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In 1995, we
           issued an updated report. In 1996, we testified before the House Budget Committee on the same topic. Due to
           continued Budget Committee inlerest in this issue. we are undenak.ing this project.
           KEY QUESTIONS: (J) What is the economic and budget oullook for .he long-term? (2) How would
           alternative fiscal policy scenarios affect the long~tenn outlook? (3) How would potential changes to aggregate
           Social Security and health paths affect the outlook? (4) How sensitive are our results to key economic.
           demographic. and budget assumptions?
Budget Issues




IMPROVING BUDGET CHOICES
    1TI1.E: REVIEW OF THE ACCOUNTABILlTV AND RELIABILITY OF FEE-BASED PROGRAMS (935209)

           BACKGROUND: Federal programs have had to operate increasingly within a budget environment of spending
           controls. This same period has also marked a growth in fees from the public. OBRA 1990, subsequent
           reconciliation legislation, and many appropriation acts indicate growing interest in authorizing, or expanding,
           the use of these fees.
           KEY QUESTIONS: (l) Which programs derive a significant amount of their funding from the public, and what
           are their bUdgetary, accounting. and programmatic attributes? (2) What budgetary controls govern the activity,
           use, and accountability of their fees? (3) What changes have occurred in lhe growth of these programs and the
           activities funded by their fees since the enactment of BEA?




    1TI1.E: INVESTING FEDERAL RETIREMENT TRUST FUNDS IN EQUITIES (935214)

           BACKGROUND: Proposals have been made to invest the surpluses of trust funds in equities. However. Hule
           anention has been directed to uncovering the full implications of changing the policy of investing surpluses in
           Treasury securities. Senate Finance Comm. staff has expressed interest in having GAO examine the budget,
           economic and financial implications of this policy change.
           KEY QUESTIONS: 1) What are the current investment policies of trust funds?; 2) What are the elements of
           proposals for changing current policies?; 3) What are the stock investment practices of state/foreign
           governments? 4) What are the implications of stock investments for budget deficits, public debt, budgeting and
           financial practices, capital markets. and national savings?




    1TI1.E: CREDIT REFORM: LESSIONS LEARNED FROM BUDGET TREAThtENT OF CREDIT ESTIMATES (935217)

           BACKGROUND: Agencies are preparing budgets for the seventh year after credit refonn and we now can see
           if they are improving their ability to estimate subsidy costs. We would expect to see agencies using re-estimates
           as the starting point for subsequent budget estimates and to see fewer and/or smaller re·estimates from factors
           agencies should be increasingly able to accuralely estimate.
           KEY QUESTIONS: 1) Are agencies using re-estimated cash flows as a starting point for bUdget subsidy
           estimates? 2) Determine. if possible, the causes of re-estimates and identify as either outside the agency's
           control or an increasingly estimable factor? 3) Is there a trend of improvement in subsidy estimates as shown by
           smaller re-estimates due to increasingly estimable factors?




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Budget Issues




IMPROVING BUDGET CHOICES
    1TILE:   BUDGETARY TREATMENT OF FEDERAL INSURAl'olCE PROGRAMS (935218)

             BACKGROUND: With Lhe Congress and the President commined to balancing the budget by the year 2002. it
             is critical that the budget provide complete information on program costs. For nearly fifty years, budget expert;
             have been calling for expanded use of accrual concepts in the bUdgt to better reflect the cost of certain pro~(ams
             such as federal insurance.
             KEY QUESTIONS: The Chairman of the House Budget Committee asked GAO to review the budgetary
             treatment of federal insurance programs. Specifically. he asked that we (1) assess whether the current cash
             budget provides complete information for de<:ision making, (2) identify approaches for using accrual concepts.
             (3) highlight lradeoffs, and (4) discuss impJementation issues.




    1TILE:   BUDGETING FOR RESULTS, PAST FEDERAL PERFORMANCE BUDGETING INITIATIVES OFFER
             IMPLICATIONS FOR GPRA (935220)

             BACKGROUND: The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) is one of several federal
             efforts to align spending decisions with program results, termed performance budgeting. This job cites
             challenges faced by earlier efforts (#935168). and asks panel participants to comment on their relevance for
             GPRA. as well as any approaches that might mitigate these challenges.
             KEY QUESTIONS: (1) How are the following challenges to performance budgeting a factor in GPRA
             implementation: (a) using program activities as a performance measurement base; (b) devising quantitative
             outcome measures; (c) consulting with congressional and other stakeholders; and (d) operating with shrinking
             resources (2) What implementation approaches might mitigate these challenges?




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