Agencies Carrying Over More Money at the End of the Fiscal Year


At a time when agencies are under attack for “use it or lose it” spending at the end of the fiscal year, the Government Accountability Office reported that the number of accounts with carryover balances rose from fiscal 2007 to fiscal 2012, and that efforts to maximize efficiency in use of the funds must be tailored to individual programs.

In reviewing eight accounts from 2007 through 2012 in the Defense, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Treasury departments, auditors estimated total carry over balances for fiscal 2012 of $2.2 trillion, of which about $800 billion had not yet been obligated.

GAO noted that a single account may support multiple programs and said “a case-by-case analysis is needed to understand how best to achieve… financial benefits.” Each account or program with unexpended funds, it said, should be examined by asking questions about its mission and goals, the sources and fiscal characteristics of the funding, the factors that affect the size or composition of carryover balances, and how the agency measures the balances.

“If an agency does not have a robust strategy in place to manage carryover balances, or is unable to adequately explain or support the reported carryover balance, then a more in-depth review is warranted,” GAO wrote. “In those cases, balances may either fall too low to efficiently manage operations or raise to unnecessarily high levels, producing potential opportunities for those funds to be used more efficiently elsewhere.”

The report, released on the last day of the fiscal year, was requested by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

GAO made no recommendations, and the four departments generally agreed with the observations, with HHS cautioning that “conclusions drawn from the report may not apply across the board to all accounts.”

(Image via Givaga/

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

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

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


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