Agencies pass budget test, but not with flying colors

Most agencies' budget information is accurate and reliable, but improvements are necessary in the financial reporting for several key federal programs, according to a new General Accounting Office report.

GAO reviewed 22 major budget accounts at 10 agencies--representing more than 75 percent of fiscal year 1999 expeditures--and found that 14 of those accounts were reliable enough to warrant a clean or unqualified audit opinion on fiscal year 1999 financial statements.

GAO's work focused on agencies' Statements of Budgetary Resources (SBRs). Beginning in fiscal 1998, agencies were required to prepare SBRs as one of their primary financial statements.

Each SBR provides information about agencies' budget resources, obligations, and expenditures. The statement is an important component in making the government accountable for the collection and use of taxpayers' money, GAO officials say. The SBR can be used to ensure that an agency's budget data match up with the information reported in the President's budget. The information can then be used to make decisions about future funding for the agency.

"These agencies did not have significant differences between amounts in the SBR and the President's budget, or if differences existed, they were explained in the financial statements as required by accounting standards, and did not indicate that amounts in the President's budget were significantly misstated," said the report, "Framework for Assessing the Reliability of Budget Execution Data Is Not Yet Fully Implemented" (GAO-01-43).

According to GAO's review, the following agencies and their programs successfully implemented the federal accounting framework to produce reliable budget data:

  • Agriculture: Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; Child Nutrition Programs
  • Health and Human Services: Payments to Health Care Trust Funds; Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund; Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund; Grants to States for Medicaid
  • Housing and Urban Development: Federal Housing Administration
  • Labor: Unemployment Trust Fund
  • Office of Personnel Management: Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund
  • Transportation: Federal Transit Authority Grants; FAA Operations
  • Treasury Department: Interest Expense on the Public Debt Outstanding
  • Veterans Affairs: Medical Care; Compensation, Pension, and Burial Benefits

Programs that showed significant differences between amounts in the SBR and the President's budget included the Social Security Administration's Federal Old Age and Survivors Trust Fund; the Agriculture Department's Food Stamp Program and its Commodity Credit Corporation Fund; and the Transportation Department's Federal Aid Highways program.

Agency officials, including officials from the Office of Management and Budget, agreed with GAO's findings.

GAO emphasized in a previous report (AIMD-00-307), which reviewed agencies' compliance with the 1996 Federal Financial Management Improvement Act (FFMIA), that clean financial audits are not an end to themselves, noting that most agencies' overall financial statements were still unacceptable.

Of the 24 agencies covered under the Chief Financial Officers Act, only the Energy Department, NASA and the National Science Foundation complied with the financial requirements of FFMIA for fiscal year 1999, according to GAO.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.