Budget

GAO details the high cost of continuing resolutions

money on fire

The Government Accountability Office warned senators March 13 that continuing resolutions force agency officials to divert funding from priority objectives, delay work and even lessen the quality of services -- problems observed repeatedly in the course of nearly three decades of CRs.

In past reviews, GAO found agencies deferring hiring and training, limiting how well they can inspect surveillance equipment, food and other items. Agencies struggle to oversee work to the same degree and accomplish less work under a CR because budgets are unknown.

On the procurement side, agency officials delay contracts, which affects their ability to fully compete and award them, and agencies end up cramming more acquisition work into a shorter period of time.

"Agency officials reported taking varied actions to manage inefficiencies resulting from CRs, including shifting contract and grant cycles to later in the fiscal year to avoid repetitive work," Michelle Sager, director of strategic issues at GAO, told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The committee was looking into issues related to the current budget crisis as the Senate debates the passage of another CR to fund the remainder of fiscal 2013. The House passed similar legislation March 6. The current CR expires March 27.

CRs are hardly new, of course. In all but three of the past 30 years, GAO said Congress has used CRs to provide funding until it passed final appropriations bills. Yet both the frequency and duration of those stopgap funding measures have grown in recent years, exacerbating problems for agency officials.

"Our failure in this area has likely made our government less effective and more costly for taxpayers," said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the committee’s chairman. "It has also degraded federal employee morale, created harmful ripple effects for state and local governments, and hindered efforts to help our nation’s economy as it recovers from one of the worst economic recessions in our history."

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Fri, Mar 15, 2013

Congress should consider moving the budget to a biannual cycle to reduce the burden on themselves, be on time, and let the executive branch gain from knowing their budget for a 2-year time period. Unanticipated interim needs could be dealt with by congress on a case-by-case basis.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group