oversight

Progress in Improving Program and Budget Information for Congressional Use

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-08-30.

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

                         DOCUM!ET REStYEM
 03114 - [124335751
Progress in Improving Program and Budget Information for
Congressional Use. PAD-77-73; B-115398. August 30, 1977. 23 pp.

Report to the Congress; by Elmer B, Staets, Comptroller General.
Issue Area: Program Evaluation Systems (2600).
Contact: Program Analysis Div.
Budget Function: General Government: Other General Government
     (806); Miscellaneous: Financial Management and Information
    Systems (1002).
Organization Concerned: General Accounting office.
Congressional Relevance: Congress.
Authority: Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (P..L- 93-344).
    Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 (P.L. 91-F10). OM3
    Circular A-11.

           As required by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974,
 GAO has assisted both authorizing and appropriations committees
 by providing leadership and assistance in: meeting their
 recurring needs for program and budget information; developing
 systems for authorizing committees' oversight and budget
activities; using information generated by the evaluative
approach of title VII of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to
assist committees in their budget as well as oversight
activities; and facilitating the future congressional use of
zero-base budgeting information. Findings/Conclusions: Durina
the past year GAO developed an automated data base for providing
program authorization and budgetary information obtained from
executive agencies to authorizing committees. The data base
contains information on Federal programs and activities
authorized by legislation and has been substantially developed
for most committees. GAO has continued workinC to identify needs
for information at the program level and recommended improved
structures for reporting information in budget justifications,
the budget appendix, and other documents, GAO is working on
improving budget practices; the focus is on the methods of
financing now being used and those proposed for Federal programs
and on the related effectiveness of the congressional control
they provide. GAO is also working toward improving standard
classifications to best satisfy congressional information needs.
lowever, the Office of Management and Budget has resisted change
  n several areas. GAO publishes three sourcebooks useful to the
Congress. (Author/SC)
REPORT TO THE CONGRESS

BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL
OF THE UNITED STATP.ES




Progress In Improving
Program And Budget Information
For Congressional Use
This is GAO's fourth annual report on im-
proving fiscal, budgetary, and program-related
information for the Congress under the Con-
gressional Budget Act of 1974.
As the new budget process has been imple-
mented, GAO has identified congressional
needs and has worked with agencies to help
them meet those needs. However, improve-
ment is still needed in existing information
and its presentation to the Congress. The long
process of improving information has begun
and will continue.




PAD-77-73
                                                 AUGUST 30, 1977
              (')MPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UN' TED STATES
                         WASHINGTON. D.C.   20548




B-1:5398




To the President of the Senate and t::e
Speaker of the House of Representecives

     This fourth report is submitted to the Congress in
accordance with section 202(e) of the Legislative Reorgani-
zation Act of 1970, as amended by title VIII of the Congres-
sional Budget Act of 1974. This section requires us to re-
port to the Congress annually on the progress and results
of our continuing program to improve the usefulness of
fiscal, budgetary, and program-related information to con-
gressional users.
     T
     re have made considerable progress duLing the past
year in defining and developing information requirements
of the Congress; however, this process will require much
effort over a number of years. Tnis report describes our
progress in helping thc Congress obtain the information it
needs to better evaluate Federal programs and tius to im-
prove its ability to assess resource requirements as they
relate to national priorities and to recognize those op-
portunities to best achieve desired program results.

     We are sending copies of this report to the Director,
Office of Management and Budget; the Director, Congressional
Budget Of.ice; and the Secretary of the Treasury




                                   Comptroller General
                                   of the United States
 COMPTROLLER GENERAL'S                      PROGRESS IN IMPROVING PROGRAM
 REPORT TO THE CONGRESS                     AND BUDGET INFORMATION FOR
                                            CONGRESSIONAL USE
              DIGEST
              As required by the Congressional Budget Act
              of 1974, GAO has assisted both authorizing
              and appropriations committees by providing
              leadership and assistance in

              -- meeting their recurring needs for program and
                 budgetary information,

              -- developing systems for authorizing com-
                 mittees' oversight and budget activities,
              -- using information generated by the evaluative
                 approach of title VII of the Congressional
                 Budget Act of 1974 to assist committees
                 in their budget as well as oversight activi-
                 ties, and
              -- facilitating the future congressional use of
                 zero-base budgeting information.

             This past year GAO developed an automated data
             base for providing program authorization and
             budgetary information obtained from executive
             agencies to authorizing committees. The data
             base contains information on Federal programs
             and activities authorized by legislation and
             has been substantially developed for most
             committees.  (See ch. 2.)
             GAO has continued working to identify needs for
             information at the program level and recommended
             improved structures for reporting information
             in budget justifications, the budget appendix,
             and other documents. These recommendations are
             made in information requirements documents
             which also contain reporting formats and cycles,
             and information elements and their definitions.
             Workload and performance indicators, as well as
             budgetary data, have been identified.  (See
             ch. 2.)

             GAO is working on improving budget practices.
             The focus is on the methods of financing now

TeuaShot.    Upon removal, the report
cover date should be noted hereon.      i              (92076)
being used and those proposed for Federal pro-
grams and on the related effectiveness of the
congressional control they provide.   (See cn. 3.)

GAO is also working toward improving standard
classifications to best satisfy congressional
information needs. However, the Office of
Management and Budget has resisted change in
several areas. (See ch. 3.)

GAO publishes three sourcebooks containing
information useful to the Congress.

-- "Requirements for Recurring Reports to the
   Congress, a Directory."
---"Federal Program Evaluations:   A Directory
   for the Congress."

-- "Federal Information Sources and Systems:
    A Directory for the Congress."  (See ch. 4.)




                      ii
                  Contents

                                                    Page
DIGEST

CHAPTER

      1   INTRODUCTION                                1
      2   ASSISTANCE TO COMMITTEES                    3
              Committees' views and estimates         3
              Recurring requirements for program-
                level information                    5
              Oversight information requirements     8
      3   STANDARD TERMINOLOGY, DEFINITIONS,
            CLASSIFICATIONS, AND CODES              13
              Budget concepts and practices         13
              Standard classifications for budget
                information                         16
      4   REPORTS MONITORING AND SOURCEBOOKS        20
              Sourcebooks                           21
      5   EXECUTIVE BRANCH PROGRESS                 23

                   ABBREVIATIONS
DOD       Department of Defense
GAO        eneral Accounting Office
OMB       Office of Management and Budget
VA        Veterars Administration
                           CHAPTER 1

                          INTRODUCTION

                                                       budgetary,
     This report on the progress in improving fiscal,
                                         Congress is required
and program-related information for the
                                           Act of 1974 (Public
by title VII1 of the Congressional Budget
              Title VIII of that act amended  the Legislative
Law 93-344).
                                   Law  91-510) and assigned
Reorganization Act of 1970 (Public
                                             General of the
certain responsibilities to the Comptroller
United States, including
                                               and publishing
     -- developing, establishing, maintaining,
        standard terminology, definitions, classifications,
                                                 and program-
        and codes for Federal fiscal, budgetary,
        related data and information Asec. 202(a)(1));
                                                     and specify
     -- conducting a continuing program to identify
                                    and Members of  Congress
        the needs of the committees
                                                   information
        for fiscal, budgetary, and prgram-related
        (sec. 202(c))M and
                                                their information
     -- assisting committees in (1) developing
                                               in  legislative
        needs, including such needs expressed
                                     the  various  recurring
        requirements, (2) monitoring
                                                and   committees,
        reporting requirements of the Congress            and
                                       co  the Congress
        and (3) making recommendations
                                                  in  their
        committees for changes and improvements
                                                        informa-
        reporting requirements to meet congressional
                                                     General,
        tion needs ascertained by the Comptroller
        to enhance their usefulness to the congressional
                                                      re-
        users, and to eliminate duplicate or unneeded
       porting   (sec. 202(d)).
                                                      Act of
     Section 202(e) of the Legislative Reorganization
1970, as amended, requiring this report states:

                                                  year there-
      "On or before September 1, 1974, and each
                                            report   to the
      after, the Comptroller General shall
                                        specified   under
      Congress on needs identified and
                                                   needs to
      subsection (c); the relationship of these
                                                 extent   to
      the existing reporting requirements; the
                                             presently  meets
      which the executive branch reporting
                                                    changes
      the identified needs; the specification of
                                   needed to  meet  congres-
      to standard classifications
                                               and  results
      sional needs; the activities, progress
                                                and the
      of his activities under subsection (d);        during
      progress that the executive branch  has  made
      the past year."


                                  I
     As the new budget process has been implemented, we have
identified a number of needs generated by that process and
have worked with agencies to help them meet those needs.
Much improvement is needed in existing inforiation and its
presentation to the Congress. The long process of improving
information has begun and will continue. Specific work
during the past year to improve program and budg'et informa-
tion for congressional use is discussed in this report.




                             2
                          CH'.PTER 2
                  ASSISTANCE TO COMMITTEES
     We have assisted both authorizing and appropriations
committees in identifying and specifying information needs.
Our objective in this work is to provide leadership and
assistance in
     -- meeting recurring needs o.- authorizing and apprepri-
        ations committees for program and budgetary infor-
        mation,
     -- developing systems for authorizing committees'
        oversight and budget activities,
     -- using information generated by the evaluative approach
        of title VII of the Congressional Budget Act of
        1974 to assist committees in their budget as well
        as oversight activities, and

     -- facilitating the future congressional use of zero-
        base budgeting information.

COMMITTEES' VIEWS AND ESTIMATES

     The Congressional Budget Act of i974 established the
Budget Committees and set up a new budget process. As a
part of this process, the Congress adopts the first con-
current resolution on the budget setting forth, among other
things, the appropriate levels cf total budget authority
and total outlays; an estimate of budget outlays and an
appropriate level of new budget authority for each functional
category; the level of revenues; the level of debt; and the
appropriate amount of surplus or duficit in the budget.   To
assist in preparing the budget Committee reports on the
concurrent resolutioris, each standing committee of the House
of Representatives and the Senate is required to submit its
views and estimates on matters to be contained in the
concurrent resolution to the Committees on the Budget of
their respective Houses.   These views and estimates reports,
due on or before March 1S of each year, set forth the
committees' views and estimates with respect to matters
within their jurisdiction or functions.

     We reported last year that we had begun automating a
data base to allow us to more effectively provide the pro-
gram authorization and budgetary information we obtain from


                               3
the executive agencies to authorizing committees to assist
them in preparing their March 15 views and estimates reports
and to allow us to more easily respond to other requests for
data. We have automated this data base which contains in-
formation on Federal programs and activities authorized by
legislation and has teen substantially developed for most
committees. The following information is available in the
automated system for each program:

     1.   Budget function and subfunction.

     2.   Names, titles, and sections of the public laws
          which authorize the program.

     3.   The name of the program, activity, or item.

     4.   The appropriation account number.

     5.   The administering agency.

     6.   The amounts authorized, if specified.

     7.   The expiration dates of the legislation or
          program.

     8.   The related budget authority, outlays, and
          obligations for the past, current, and budget
          year.

     As a result of special information requirements of
individual corimittees, we have obtained and included
additional information for selected programs. These cate-
gories of information include outlays from current-year
budget authsrity, outlays for State and local governments,
first-quarter apportionments, loan levels, limitations,
contract authority, and identification of regulatory pro-
grams.

     We have updated data from over 70 agencies in this
system to reflect the fiscal year 1978 budget figures.
Information and analytical assistance was provided to a
number of committees in support of the March 15, 1977, views
and estimates reports.
     We are working toward refining the data in this system
and increasing the speed and flexibility with which reports
can be produced. The information is available to any


                               4
requesting committee and will be available covering all
agencies for use in preparing fiscal year 1979 views and
estimates reports in 1978.

RECURRING REQUIREMENTS FOR
PROGRAM-LEVEL INFORMATION

     We have worked with the Senate and House Committees on
Appropriations and selected agencies to identify needs for
information about programs in appropriation and fund accounts
or account groups and have summarized our recommendations in
information requirements documents. These documents contain
proposals for improved program-oriented classification
structures used to report information in budget justifications,
the budget appendix, and other documents. They also contain
proposed reporting formats and cycles and information ele-
ments and their definitions. The range of information in-
cludes workload and performance indicators, as well as basic
budgetary information. This work has also been useful in
assisting authorizing committees.

     Since our last report, we have completed requirements
documents for accounts of the Commodity Futures Trading
Commission and of the Food and Nutrition Service, Department
of Agriculture. Following is a brief discussion of some
of the recommendations in those documents arid their imple-
mentation in the fiscal year 1978 budget justifications.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission
     The classification structure used oy the Commission
before the fiscal year 1978 budget contained only one entry
for the entire account:  "Administration of the Commodity
Futures Trading Commission Act." We recommended a more
detailed structure to provide separate visibility for the
Commission's five major programs. These structures follow.




                              5
                             EXHIBIT I

         Column A                               Column B
     FY 177f structure                     GAO-proposed-structure
Administration of the Commodity          Daily market surveillance
Futures Trading Commission Act
                                         Research and education

                                         Registration, audits, and
                                         contract market review
                                         Enforcement

                                         Centralized management and
                                         services, hearings, and
                                         apportionments
     With only minor changes in terminology, the new structure
was implemented in the 1978 justifications; however, the 1978
budget appendix still displayed only one entry rather than
the more definitive structure we proposed. Workload and per-
formance information was improved in the justifications as
we recommended.

Food and Nutrition Service

      We completed six requirements documents in which we
made recommendations and delivered them to the Subcommittees
on Agriculture and Related Agencies, House and Senate
Appropriations Committeest to be sent to the Department of
Agriculture. These recommendations were not implemented in
the fiscal year 1978 justifications. The documents have been
discussed with Agriculture officials and Subcommittees staffs,
and substantial implementation is expected in fiscal year
1979.

Other recommendations

     Earlier recommendations implemented in the fiscal year
1978 justifications by the Farmers Home Administration in-
cluded:

     -- Providing a loan delinquency rate table.

     -- Providing loan repayment aging information.

     -- Providing information on collateral acquired, sold,
        and in inventory. (Since the data was for only 1


                                6
       month, it was not adequate for analytical purposes,
       but it demonstrated the ability to supply such
       information in the future.)
     -- Providing improved salary and expense information.
        (Additional workload and staff-year information was
        expected as supplemental submissions to the fiscal
        year 1978 budget justifications, but it was not re-
        ceived.)
     In February 1976 work was completed on six Soil Conser-
Tation Service accounts. Recommended classification structures
were implemented for four of those accounts in justification
material and the 1978 budget appendix: Conservation Operations,
Watershed Planning, Great Plains Conservation Program, and
Resource Conservation and Development. The structures for
River Basin Surveys and Investigations and Watershed and
Flood Prevention Operations were partially implemented.

     Recommendations in two information requirements documents
on Veterans Administration (VA) programs were partially
implemented in the 1978 budget justifications. Recommended
information not yet provided for the Loan Guaranty Revolving
Fund includes a special report on loan defaults with an
aging analysis. VA officials have stated that, although they
have been limited in providing such information in the past, a
new computer-generated report has recently been developed
which will show an aging of loans in default.  By fiscal year
1979, enough data will have become available through this
reporting system to begin supplying loan default informa-
tion in justifications.

     Requirements documents are in process f.r additional
VA accounts.

Other GAO reports

     In addition to the recommendations in the information
requirements documents, recommendations for improving
information provided to the Congress are included as a part
of our reports dealing primarily with other matters. Some
examples follow.

     --On October 20, 1976, we sent a letter report (PAD-
       77-3) responding to a request that we study the
       timeliness of statistics of income data. This
       letter suggested possible ways to improve this data
       for congressional and other users.


                              7
    -- On January 27, 1977, we transmitted a report to the
       Congress entitled "Improved Reporting Needed on
       National Aeronautics and Space Administration
       Projects" (PSAD-77-54). This report dealt with
       the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's
       status reports on the cost, schedule, and technical
       aspects of selected projects.     It stated that the
       status reports should  be  broadened  to include in-
       formation on (i) why the   projects  are  needed, (2)
       the contributions of other   organizations,   (3) ef-
       fects of total cost  and  funding,  and  (4) more
       perspective on progress, problems, and pending
       decisions.

    -- On February 23, 1977, we transmitted a report to
       the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition,
       and Forestry entitled "How to Improve U.S. Forest
       Service Reports on Forest Resources" (PAD-77-29).
       This report discusses how certain required planning
       documents could be better organized and include
       more analytical material useful to the Congress.

    -- On June 3, 1977, we transmitted a report to the
       Congress entitled "Review of the Impoundment Control
       Act of 1974 After 2 Years" (OGC-77-20). This
       report recommended further improvements in the
       quality of impoundment reports.
    -- On June 28, 1977, we transmitted a report to the
       Congress entitled "Dredging America's Waterways
       and Harbors--More Information Needed on Environ-
       mental and Economic Issues" (CED-77-74). The
       report stated that additional information should
       be included in the Corps' budget justifications on
       the costs and environmental effects of alternative
       disposal practices for those projects which the
       Environmental Protection Agency questions or
       objects to.

     --On July 27, 1977, we transmitted a report to the
       Congress entitled "Mission Budgeting: Discussion and
       Illustration of the Concept in Research and Develop-
       ment Programs" (PSAD-77-124). This report discussed
       reorganizing budget data to increase its usefulness
       to the Congress.

OVERSIGHT INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS
     We are seeking to assist committees to strengthen the
oversight of Federal programs under their jurisdiction.


                              8
Much of this work is done in response to congressional
requests and involves defining and developing information
and reporting requirements.- Committees receive a large
volume of information. However, it is frequently deficient
in content, relevance, and quality.   Often there is not a
cohesive flow of information, which decreases its utility.
One' way to improve this situation is to plan for evaluation
information and insure that legislation contains adequate
evaluation and reporting requirements.   Our objectives are
to insure advance planning for oversight information needs
and improve executive information and evaluation capabilities
to make sure the needed information is available.   Some
examples of work underway to improve oversight follow.

Senate Human Resources Committee

     This Committee (formerly the Senate Committee on r bor
and Public Welfare) recuested that we advise and assist it
in specifying and developing its overall information re-
quirements in order to fully participate in the new
congressional budget process and to strengthen its over-
sight function.  We have worked directly with the
Committee staff and the executive agencies on selected
programs during the past year and have developed several
approaches for trial use by the Ccmnmittee.  However, ful-
filling all the Committee's requirements will need continued
work for 3ome time.  A number of other committees have
subsequently made similar requests.   Many of the basic
information needs of the authorizing committees are
similar, and the experience gained in work for this Committee
will be applied to future work for other committees.

     On December 18, 1975, we provided the Committee with an
initial document (Discussion of Information Needs, Senate
Committee on Labor and Public Welfare (OPA-76-57)) which
identified the type of information the Committee needed in
broad terms.  We then began work on two information systems
models to satisfy some of these needs.

     The first model resulted in (1) providing the basic
system to annually support the Committee in its data
requirements for the development of the March 15 views and
estimates reports and (2) describing the conceptual
outline for a system to track budget-related congressional
actions or. the Co,nmittee's programs. We will continue to
operate the basic system to support the March 15 views and
estimates requirements and will provide the structure and
initial data for the tracking system being developed by



                            9
the Senate Computer Center.  The initial proposal for
implementing the tracking system is being-reviewed and
analyzed.

     The second model being developed contains program planning,
execution and performance information to support oversight
responsibilities.   Information to be used in developing this
system is being collected from executive agencies.   Proposed
formats for information collection were Published in a
three-part document entitled "Proposed Formats for Information
Collection from Selected Agencies of the Department of Health,
Education and Welfare:   Part I, Office of Education; Part II,
the National Institutes of Health; and Part III, the Center
for Disease Control, the National-Institute for Occupational
Safety" (PAD-76-33).

      Selected education programs are currently being analyzed
as to their potential for supplying information for measurina
accomplishments against legislative, judicial, and executive
operating objectives.   The information being collected in-
cludes program overview and budget execution information, as
well as performance and impact indicators.   From this base
of information, we are analyzing requirements and classifying
them as (1) easily filled, (2) filled with some additional
effort, arid (3) requirements needing long-range development
to fill the information gaps.   Basic information requirements
of general application to most programs, as well as recuire-
ments applicable to specific program types, will be identi-
fied.   Health, welfare, and labor programs will be analyzed
later.   We plan to publish a report discussing our work on
education programs in 1978.

     The Committee also requested that we assist it in
specifying and developing an operational system of social
indicators.  Social indicators related to employment were
chosen for this work.

     We have reviewed the available employment data series
suggested as social indicators.  These included employment
and unemployment statisticst wage and salary data, working
conditions and benefit data, new job satisfaction measures,
ana worker health and safety data.  We were able to describe
the strengths and weaknesses of the data as social indicators.
We found that these employment concerns were represented in
several budget functions and many programs to varying degrees.

     We examined the current state of the art for systems
of social indicators and found that the indicators were not


                              10
systematically related to particular programs or budget
functions. Presently, the only operational system is a
list of descriptive statistics.   It is difficult to specify
the contents of a list as being  complete  because a theory
has not been developed which can  measure  social well-being
in employment, We are working with the    Committee  staff to
determine how to set up an operational  system  of  employment
indicators to improve oversight and to assist it in the
budgetary decisions,
Evaluative approach

     Program evaluation covers a wide range of activities in
the Federal Government. A good evaluation can provide
managers with information on a program's progress toward
achieving desired goals. Ideally, evaluations should also
aid in congressional oversight by facilitating assessment of
whether laws are competently administered and are achieving
intended purposes.

     Titles VII and VIII of the Congressional Budget Act
of 1974 strengthened our role in the area of program
evaluation. We are working to improve the quality and
usefulness of the evaluative information provided to the
con.ress by
     -- developing and refining ways for the Congress to
        plan for evaluation and to perform oversight,

     -- appraising the effectiveness of executie agency
        evaluation systems,

     -- developing new methodologies for analyzing Federal
        programs and identifying their impact for the
        Congress, and

     -- publishing sourcebooks of agency evaluations and
        evaluation-related data.

     We have completed development of an oversight process
that could be used by the Congress when it desires to system-
atically monitor the effectiveness with which programs are
carried out by the executive branch. This approach was
developed at the request of Senator Patrick Leahy, and our
upcoming report on the process is entitled "Finding Out
How Programs Are Working:  Suggestions for Congressional
Oversight" (PAD-77-10). That report is proposing a process
that could be used by congressional committees to keep track
of programs as they are carried out or changed in response


                              11
to legislation.  Our process is designed to avoid the pitfalls
common in making program evaluations, such as determining
adequate measures of program effectiveness, establishing
cause and effect links, and analyzing program side effects.

     Another effort underway deals with integrating evalua-
tion information on multiple programs with similar objec-
tives into the oversight process.  This work is being done
for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and
Forestry and focuses on Department of Agriculture  programs
associated with water and soil conservation.  We  are
attempting to identify programs or activities which have
similar objectives and to oversee the development of an
Agriculture evaluation plan which will eventually provide
the committee with evaluations that answer basic oversight
questions on water and soil conservation issues.

Zero-base budgeting

     Zero-base budgeting is being implemented in the Federal
Government. We have completed a pilot study of how zero-
base budget information can be integrated into the appro-
priations process and made useful for congressional budgetary
decisionmaking.  The study was done at the reauest of
Representative Max S. Baucus who asked the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration and the Consumer Product Safety
Commission to submit portions of their budgets in the zero-
base format.  The Congressional Budget Office was asked to
review the results, and we analyzed the process and reported
in a letter report information identified which could be
useful to committees. (PAD-77-60, June 10, 1977.)   This
information includes priority ranking of programs  and
analysis of program objectives, alternatives, and budget
options.  We are continuing to research the theo:y and
practice of zero-base budgeting with the goal of assessing
its impact on and uses for the congressional budget process.




                              12
                          CHAPTER 3

             STANDARD TERMINOLOGYr DEFINITIONS,

                 CLASSIFICATIONS, AND CODES
     Section 202(a)(1) of the Legislative Reorganization Act
of 1970, as amended, requires the Comptroller General of the
United States, in cooperation with the Secretary of the
Treasury; the Director, Office of Management and Budget
(OMB); and the Director, Congressional Budget Office, to
develop, establish, maintain, and publish standard termin-
ology, definitions, classifications, and codes for Federal
fiscal, budgetary, and program-related data and information.

BUDGET CONCEPTS AND PRACTICES

     We are focusing on the methods of financing now being
used and those proposed for Federal programs and on the
related effectiveness of the congressional control they
provide. This work is carried out through

     -- maintaining the GAO glossary of budgetary, economic,
        and program terms used in the budget process;
     -- performing studies that focus on particular budget
        concepts and practices, such as the use of
        revolving funds; and

     -- assisting executive agencies in implementing recommended
        concepts.
Standard terminology and definitions

     In November 1975 we published a glossary entitled
"Budgetary Definitions" (OPA-76-8) which included our initial
standard te ,ninology and definitions relating to formulating
and enacting the Federal budget. We distributed over 7,000
copies of the glossary, with circulation to all Federal
agencies, congressional committees, Members of Congress,
and many other interested organizations and individuals.

     In July 1977 we issued a revised edition of the
glossary entitled "Terms Used in the Budgetary Process"
(PAD-77-9).  This glossary is a compilation of those terms
previously published and additional terms that have been
suggested by various users of our first glossary.




                                13
Additional terms include terms and definitions applicable to
zero-base budgeting that were developed by OMB and economic
terms used in connection with the Federal budget, especially
in discussions of the economic assumptions underlying the budg-
et proposals and estimates.

     As in the first glossary, the terms and definitions in
the revised glossary (except for the zero-base budget terms)
were developed in coordination with the Department of the
Treasury, OMB, and the Congressional Buaget Office.   Sugges-
tions and assistance were also obtained .rovm various congres-
sional committees and Federal agencies.

Funding practices studies

     Underlying the definitions are concepts and precedents in
budgeting, authorizing, and appropriating.  Therefore, we are
examining past and current practices for selected funding
methods as they relate to congressional controllability.   This
work is closely coordinated with the work of other legislative
branch studies of controllability. We also address the usage
of terms and funding methods in commenting on bills and in
response to specific requests for our views by committees.

     Revolvini funds

     We recently published the first report dealing with our
budget concepts work--"Revolving Funds:   Full Disclosure
Needed fir Better Congressional Control" (PAD-77-25).   That
report discussed the current practices and trends in the use
of revolving funds and implications for congressional budget
control.   One of the major issues raised in the report con-
cerned the budget treatment of Public Enterprise Revolving
Funds.   We recommended in that report that public enterprise
funds be reported in the budget on a gross basis so that
the Congress is made aware of the total level of Federal actvi-
ties and has the information necessary to select and imple-
ment the appropriate form of control over those activities.
The current net treatment of Public Enterprise Revolving Funds
understates the Federal budget totals by about $28 billion
in the fiscal year 1978 budget.   Changing to a gross budget
treatment would increase the budget receipt and outlay totals
and the functional totals u ed in the concurrent resolutions.
The budget deficit would not be affected.

     There appears to be an inconsistent application of re-
volving fund criteria among Federal accounts resulting in
questionable classification of some accounts as revolving




                             14
funds. Moreover, in some instances revolving funds have been
established by the Congress where this financing mechanism
might be considered inappropriate or unnecessary. We recom--
mended also that common criteria be established and that ac-
counts be reviewed to determine whether they meet this cri-
teria.

     The contents of the report were discussed with relevant
executive and congressional agencies, and their comments were
considered in preparing it.  Agency comments on the report
noted that, if these recommendations were adopted, it would
require coordination between concerned entities to implement
changes. We are willing to join in such an effort.
Federal Financing Bank

     In an August 3, 1977, report to the Congress entitled
"Government Agency Transactions with the Federal Financing Bank
Should Be Included on the Budget" (PAD-77-70), we concluded
that the effects of the off-budget status of the bank and other
undesirable budget practices resulted in:

     --An inaccurate depiction of some Federal credit
       assistance.

     --A dilution of the meaning of Federal outlays and
       deficits.

     -- The potential for poor design of credit assistance
        devices and poor choices between credit assistance
        devices and other Federal assistance devices.

     We recommended that, to adequately reflect the Federal
credit assistance activity going through the Federal Financing
Bank, the Congress require that

     -- the receipts and disbursements of the Federal
        Financing Bank be included in the budget totals,

     -- the receipts and disbursements of all off-budget
        Federal agencies that borrow from the bank be
        included in the budget totals, and

     -- Certificates of Beneficial Ownership be treated in
        the budget as borrowing rather than as the sale of
        an asset.

The report also discussed the implications of Federal Finan-
cing Bank operations for debt management and monetary policy.

                              15
Review of Defense Department's
unexpended_ balances
     During July 1977 we were requested in two separate letters,
one from the Chairman of the House Budget Committee's Task
Force on National Security (Congressman Robert L. Lecgett) and
one from Senator Ernest F. Hollings (a member of both the
Senate Appropriations and Budget Committees), to review
unexpended balances of the Department of Defense (DOD).

     The Comptroller General was also requested to develop:

      -Historical data concerning recent trends in the DOD
       unexpended balances of obligational authority.

     -- Descriptions of the budget management processes
        pertaining to unexpended balances.

     -- Explanations of the growth in unexpended balances.

     -- Conclusions concerning certain budget implications
        (congressional control, etc.).
     DOD's reported unexpended balances at the end of the year
(including foreign military sales balances) have increased
in recent years:  fiscal year 1973, $48.1 billion; fiscal year
1976, $77.3 billion. The fiscal year 1973 balance represented
39 percent of total funds that were available for expenditures
in that fiscal year; fiscal year 1976 amount represented 47
percent of total available funds.

     This request will require coordinating the work with DOD,
OMB, and the House and Senate Appropriations and authorizing
committees. We will complete the work so we can send the results
to these committees by January 15, 1978.

STANDARD CLASSIFICATIONS
FOR BUDGET INFORMATION

     We are continuing our efforts to improve classifications
to best satisfy congressional information needs. The Congress
is making program-related decisions within a number of frame-
works.

     -- Budget functions (currently 17 Government-wide cate-
        gories which serve as a framework for the Congress in
        setting spending limits of the concurrent resolution).



                             16
     -- Appropriations bills and line items (13 regular bills
        in which most of the 1,400 appropriation and fund
        accounts appear as line items).
     -- Authorizing legislation (about 4,300 programs and
        activities identified to separate segments of law).

     -- Congressinnal committee jurisdiction.

     -- Executive organization.

Budget functions
     We are continuing our efforts to improve the standard
functional classification structure to best satisfy congres-
sional information needs. Last year we proposed changes to the
existing functional structure in our report entitled "Standard
Budget Classification--Proposed Functions and Subfunctions."
(PAD-76-49, Aug. 20, 1976.) The report recommended that OMB
supplement the regular fiscal year 1978 budget documents with
a presentation of the budget using our proposed classification
s ;ucture. OMB disagreed with the recommendation and did not
prepare the supplementary presentation. We prepared a revised
presentation of the fiscal year 1978 budget in the GAO-proposed
functions and subfunctions, to show the usefulness of the pro-
posed structure. This information is available from us in
a staff study.

     Since we have the lead responsibility for developing,
establishing, maintaining, and publishing standard classifica-
tions, we have continued to coordinate the work and consult
with the various committees and agencies involved in the budg-
et process to evolve a classification structure well suited
to the new budget process. In May 1977 we convened an informal
meeting attended by staff members from the House and Senate
Budget Committees; the House Appropriations, Senate Govern-
mental Affairs, House Government Operations, and Senate Rules
Committees; the Congressional Budget Office; OMB; the Congres-
sional Research Service of the Library of Congress; and the
Treasury Department. The meeting provided a forum for
discussing opinions and concerns regarding the adequacy of
the present information flow in the congressional budget process.
Participants discussed the need to tailor the form and quan-
tity of information to fit the Congress unique decision-
making processes.   However, some participants expressed reluc-
tance to change the functional structure. We plan to continue
these dialogues as we work to improve the functional and sub-
functional classification structures of the budget. We are



                              17
reviewing an OMB staff paper on the functional classifications
in the 1979 budget.

Authorizing legislation
     We have developed a list of programs defined in authori-
zing legislation for use in preparing views and estimates
reports.   (See ch. 2.) This list consists of about 4,300 pro-
grams and activities identified to separate segments of law.
Congressional commmittee jurisdiction and executive agency
responsibility have been identified for these programs. This
program structure is being used as a decisionmaking framework
in preparation of views and estimates reports.

Standard data codes

     Section 202(a)(1) requires standardization of the codes
used for Federal fiscal, budgetary, and program-related data.
In our report last year, we supported the adoption by OMB
and the Department of the Treasury of a standard 11-digit
cod. for use in the executive budget and fiscal information
systems and in the documents and tapes sent to the Congress.
After some experience with using this code, we have recognized
a continuing need for the OMB 4-digit agency and bureau iden-
tifier. Although this code no longer appears in the budget
appendix, OMB has maintained the code on the budget tapes.
We find that we still use the number to achieve bureau level
sorts; also the appendix is more difficult to use without
this number. The Congressional Budget Office expressed the
same problem in its comments to OMB on Circular A-11 submitted
in March 1977. However, OMB does not plan to print the codes
in the appendix.

     The Civil Service Commission, in connection with the devel-
opment of the Federal Personnel Management Information System,
is developing a standard organization code to satisfy personnel
and other functional Federal agency information requirements
involving standard Federal organization designations. We are
monitoring this work and will comment on the standard code
proposed. Adoption of a standard by all parties, if that code
provides the sorting capabilities needed, would make informa-
tion exchange among agencies easier.

Special-use classifications

     A numbeL of special-use classifications have been
developed.




                              10
     Government-wide classification structure
     for research and development information
     We developed a unified objective-oriented classification
structure for use in presenting Federal research and develop-
ment budgetary data to provide Government-wide information in
a manner that will facilitate analysis, coordination, and
oversight. This structure was discussed in our last annual
report on progress under title VIII of the Congressional
Budget Act of 1974. We issued a report to the Congress (PAD-
77-14, dated Mar. 3, 1977) entitled "Need for a Government-
Wide Budget Classification Structure for Federal Research
and Development Information" recommending implementation of
the structure. OMB objects to implementing the structure.
Although a partial test of the structure demonstrated its
feasibility, the structure has not been implemented.  However,
we continue to support the need for such a presentation.

     Regulatory_proqrams
     The Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations, Senate
Committee on Governmental Affairs, requested information on
regulatory agencies for consideration during hearings on the
Regulatory Reform Act of 1977 (S. 600).  We used the data
base compiled for the views and estimates reporting as a
starting point for developing this classification. The
Subcommittee requested data on which agencies in the Federal
Government have regulatory authority, the sections of public
law which authorize that authority, the substantive areas
into which that regulatory authority falls, and the committees
of both Houses of Congress with jurisdiction over those
agencies. Because the public law and committee jurisdiction
information was av& lable in the automated system, we were
able to fulfill the request in the short time in which it
was required. We will include the identification of requ-
latory programs in the data base for future use.

    Drug abuse_programs
     The Chairman, House Select Committee on Narcotics and Drug
Abuse Control, requested our assistance in developing a congres-
sional resource guide to assist the Congress in its review of
the Federal drug abuse programs. We have been requested to
provide material on agency mandates and expenditures for
narcotics abuse and control programs.




                             19
                            CHAPTER 4

               REPORTS MONITORING AND SOURCEBOOKS

     Section 202(d) of the Legislative Reorganization Act
of 1970, as amended, states that the Comptroller General
shall assist committees in developing their information
needs, including such needs expressed in legislative require-
ments, and shall monitor the various recurring reporting
requirements of the Congress and committees.  It further
states that the Comptroller General will make recommenda-
tions to the Congress and committees for changes and improve-
ments in their reporting requirements to meet congressional
information needs, to enhance their usefulness to the
congressional users, and to eliminate duplicative or unneeded
reporting.

     As a part of our work in this area, we have collected
data from Federal agencies about requirements for recurring
reports to the Congress.  This information is maintained on
a computerized file and published annually in one of the three
volumes of the congressional sourcebook series.  The most
recent report is "Requirements for Recurr ng Reports to the
Congress, a Directory" (PAD-77-61); it provides a comprehen-
sive compilation of congessionally required recurring reports.
In addition to reports required by law, the directory includes
numerous nonstatutory reports, such as those requested in
hearings, in committee reports, or in letters or telephone
requests from committee chairmen or members.  It also includes
reports identified as voluntary recurring submissions by the
preparing agencies.  The reports were identified from
information provided by 254 Federal departments, agencies,
boe ds, commis ions, and federally chartered corporations.

     The inventory is maintained and updated through our
research and identification of new reporting requirements
from new legislation and requests for information from
Federal agencies.  The computer-based file can provide spe-
cialized lists of recurring reporting requirements of the
Congress.  The data in this file can be retrieved by key
word, recipient, statute, due date, submitting agency, or
other designation.  Statistical analyses can also be
generated.

       We are preparing an information document on reports   for
each   standing congressional committee which contains




                                20
    -- a list of requirements for reports which each committee
       should be receiving,

    --the subject matter of each report,

    -- the due date for each report,

    -- the frequency of submission for each report,

    --the authority for each report,

    -- the Federal agency or federally charted corporation
       responsible for submitting the report, and

    -- identification of requirments for reports which the
       submitting agency believes are duplicative or unneeded.

     The information document on reports has two purposes:
(1) to inform each congressional committee of the current
status of requirements for recurring reports for which the
committee has oversight responsibilities and (2) to solicit
each committee's opinion about possible elimination of require-
ments. This work will help us to assist committees in
developing language for specifying new reporting requirements
in proposed legislation and drafting legislation to eliminate
or modify statutory reporting requirements.
SOURCEBOOKS

     In addition to our sourcebook on recurring reports, we
published two other directories which make up the sourcebook
series.
     -- "Federal Program Evaluations:   A Directory for the
        Congress."

     -- "Federal Information Sources and Systems:     A Directory
        for the Congress."

     "Federal Program Evaluations:  A Directory for the Con-
gress" (PAD-77-5) provides an indexed guide to program evalua-
tion reports produced by or for the Government.   It contains
an inventory of about 1,700 evaluation reports  produced by
and for )8 selected Federal agencies, including  GAO evaluation
reports that relate to the programs of those agencies.




                             21
     "Federal Information Sources and Systems:   A Directory
for the Congress" (OPA-76-23) provides an indexed  guide to
                                               contain budg-
Federal information sources and systems which
                                                        about
etary, fiscal, and program-related data. It describes
                                               maintained by
1,000 Federal sources and information systems
63 executive agencies.
     We are continuing to improve the three directories
which are published annually by adding information   to increase
                                         to include   all
their usefulness, by increasing coverage
                                                and  by making
executive agencies and the legislative branch,
the computerized data readily available. A  common   online
                                                          through
data base for congressional analysts will be available We
the Congressional Research Service's system (SCORPIO).
are also beginning the development and publishing   of special
studies related to problems of identification  and  access to
information.




                                22
                         CHAPTER 5

                 EXECUTIVE BRANCH PROGRESS

     During the past year, we have received good cooperation
from most agencies. We have developed close and beneficial
working relationships with OMB and agency budget staffs.
However, OMB has been resistive to change in a number of
areas. We recognize that the requirements of zero-base
budgeting have overshadowed other concerns. Lack of staff
resources has been one of the stated reasons for reluctance
to implement our recommendations. There is no indication
that resources will increase.

     The extent to which zero-base budgeting might help to
meet future congressional information needs is not yet clear.
Since it includes some program measurement and future orienta-
tion, it is a potentially useful source. If the decision
units used in the zero-base budgeting procedure were made
to correspond or easily link to programs defined in terms of
authorizing legislation, information developed would ha-:.
maximum utility and wasteful duplication of effort would be
minimized. Guidance in OMB's Circular No. A-11 on preparation
and submission of budget estimates does not provide assurance
that this will be the case. We would encourage the executive
branch to make every effort to insure that zero-base budget
information can be easily linked to congressional decision
structures.




 (92076)

                             23