oversight

Budget Issues Issue Area: Active Assignments

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-04-15.

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

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                                                                                                                  I
                  Accounting and Information
GAO               Management Division



April 1997
                  Budget Issues Issue
                  Area

                  Active Assignments




GAO/AA-97-21(2)
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 April 15, 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(2)
Contents

                                                                                          Page
DEFICIT REDUcnON
   N'''' •DEFICIT REDUCTION; CONTINUED PROGRESS REQUIRES FURTIIER ASSESSMENT OF CERTAIN
         PROGRAMS.
IMPROVING BUDGET CHOICFS
         .ACCOUNTABll..rrr AND RELIABIun'" OF FEE-BASED PROGRAMS.                            1
         • INVESTING FEDERAL RETIREMENT TRUST FUNDS IN EQUITIES.                             1
         .CREDIT REFORM: LESSIONS l..EAR.NED FROM BUOOET TREATMENT OF CREDIT ESTIMATES.      2
         • BUDGETARY TREATMENTOF FEDERAL INSURANCE PROGRAMS.                                 2
   N'''' •INCORPORATING AN INVESTMENT COMPONENT IN TIlE FEDERAL BUDGET.                      2
GOVERNMENT RFSTRUCTURING
   New   .GFRA IMPLEMENTATION AND PROGRAM FRAGMENTATION.                                     3
OTHER ISSUE AREA WORK· BI
   Ntw   • BUOOET FUNcnON: ORIGINS AND TIlENDS.                                              3
Budget Issues




DEFICIT REDUcnON
    TITI..E: DEFlCIT REDUCTION; CONTINUED PROGRESS REQUIRES FURTHER ASSESSMENT OF CERTAIN
            PROGRAMS (935227)

            BACKGROUND: After the second budgetary implications report, GAO testified to the House Budget
            Committee on the implications of poor program peIformance for deficit reduction. The Committee would like us
            10 provide similar lestimooy based on   this year's budgetary implications report (GAO/OCG-97-2, Man:h 14,
            1997).

            KEY QUESTIONS: What are the implications of poor program penormance for deficit reduction?


IMPROVING BUDGET CHOICES
    TITI..E: ACCOUNTABILITY AND RELIABILITY OF FEE-BASED PROGRAMS (935209)
            BACKGROUND: Federal programs have had to operate increasingly within a budget environment of speoding
            controls. lbis same period bas 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: (1) Which programs derive 20% or more of their funding from the public, and what are
           their bUdgetary attributes? (2) What budgetary controls govern the availability of these fees? (3) What changes
           have occurred in the growth of these programs since the enactment of BEA? (4) What are the budget issues to
  l.--.    consider in creating or ex~ding: u.ser fees as a source of fundin,!!?                                                I

    TITI..E: INVESTING FEDERAL RETIRE~lENTTRUST FUNDS IN EQUITIES (935214)
            BACKGROUND: The Social Security Advisory Council recommended, among other program changes,
           studying the feasibility of lbe government investing a portion of the Social Secwity trust fund revenues in the
           stock market. We are conducting such a study because little anention has been directed to analyzing the full
            implications of changing the current trust fund investment policy.

           KEY QUESTIONS: 1) What are the current investment policies of Social Security and other federal trust
           funds'?; 2) What are the investment practices of other public pension plans? 3) What are the implications of stock
           investing for a) budget deficits/debt; b) budgeting/accounting practices; c) Social Security trust fund earnings;
           and d) capital markers and national savings?
Budget Issues




IMPROVlNG BUDGET CHOICES
    11TI..E: CREDIT REFORM: LFSSIONS LEARNED FROM BUDGET TREATMENT OF CREDIT ESTIMATES (9~5217)

             BACKGROUND: Agencies are preparing budgets for the seventh year after credit reform. Agencies bave
             taken different approaches to implementing credit reform because of djssimjlar program requirements, resource
             and expertise levels, and varying levels of commitment and interest We expect to gain some insight into the
             differences between agencies' implementation of credit reform.
             KEY QUESTIONS: I) When and bow often bave agencies re·estimated subsidy costs? 2) Have agencies
             complied with OMB Circular A-lI? 3) What bave ageucies reponed as the causes of each re-estimate (interes~
             defaul~ fees, and other)? 4) What is the trend in size and reported causes of re-estimates? 5) What follow-on
             questions should be explored in future work?




    1TILE:   BUDGETARY TREATMENT OF FEDERAL INSURANCE PROGRAMS (935218)

             BACKGROUND: With the Congress and the President committed to balancing the budget by the year 2002, it
             is critical that the budget provide complete information on program costs. For nearly fJity years, budget experts
             have been calling for expanded use of accrual concepts in me budgt to better reflect the cost of certain programs
             such as federal insurance.
             KEY QUESTIONS: The Chairman of the House Budget Comminee asked GAO to review the budgetary
             ~at!!l~'ltof fe(ferol in<:.uranc:'c pr0gfi'."1:!'. C;;;["'dftc:('lly. he ~sked tbat we (1) al<:.o;ess whether thl": C-l1fTent c.. . "h
             budget provides complete infannation far decision making. (2) identify approaches for using accrual concepts.
             (3) highlight tradeoffs, and (4) discuss implementation issues,




    11TI..E: INCQRPORATING AN INVESTMENT COMPONENT IN THE FEDERAL BUDGET (935225)

             BACKGROUND: In November 1993 we issued a report (AlMD-94-40) on incorporating an investment
             component in me federal budget This repon called for establishing targets for appropriate levels of investment
             spending similar to BEA's discretionary spending limits.
             KEY QUESTIONS: What is the trend of investment in the federal budget? How can Congress incorporate
             investment targets in the federal budget process?




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Budget Issues




GOVERNMENT RESTRUCIURING
    lTTI..E:   GPRA IMPLEMENTATION AND PROGRAM FRAGMENTATION (93SZZ4)

               BACKGROUND: There is growing awareness of the extenl and significance of federal prngram fragmentation.
               GAO, among others, has issued many reports dealing with this issue in a wide variel)' of program areas. The
               requester is interested in testing the assumption that GPRA, being fully implemented in 1997. can be an
               effective means to address the conCerns of program duplication and overlap.
               KEY QUESTIONS: Using the GPRA framework, what issues are posed hy fragmentation identified in
               employment training and economic development in terms of execution, authorization/oversight, funding. and
               affected mission area categories (i.e.. budget functions)?


OTHER ISSUE AREA WORK - BI
    TIlLE:     BUDGET FUNCTION' OR1GlNS AND TRENDS (935223)

               BACKGROUND; The budget function classification system has been in use, in some form, for over 70 years
               and bas proven remaka!>ly adative to the often cbanging needs of the federal government This adaptability will
               be called upon again in 1997 as it will likely provide the format for the govemmentwide perfonnance plan
               required under GPRA.
               KEY QUESTIONS: (1) What are the origins of the budget function structure? (2) How have the budget
               functions changed over time? (3) What are the current and likely future uses of bUdget functions? (4) What are
  __________________1
               fllnrlin~ fTl';nrt, hy 'l1~rf'lInr:rinn: funlirian ann subfunctiol'\?




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