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Mr. BENJAMIN. Any of the fiscal years that we are talking about here where the job started and you miscalculated?
Mr. DEVAUGHN. No, sir, not included in these deficiencies. It is conceivable that we could have turned money back, say, for 1974, and 2 years from now we will come in and ask for some money for 1974 because what we held on to wasn't enough. That is conceivable.
Mr. BENJAMIN. What I am trying to calculate or at least analyze in my own mind is why you use this device? I assume if your printing in fiscal 1979 was on orders started in 1976, 1977, and 1978, then it is an expenditure in 1979. You kept out an obligation or withheld an amount that may not be sufficient but it is available to you.
Why use this device at all? Mr. DEVAUGHN. The alternative to a device something like this would be if, say, we only obligated $50,000 for a job and we held on to the $50,000, but then it turns out the job is going to cost $75,000. There would be nothing to charge this excess to. We couldn't legally charge it to the current year's appropriation without this language, and it is more than is available for the year that we held the obligation, so particularly any agency without the language we have would be forced to say, we can't do the job until we go back and see the appropriation committee for a deficiency.
I would say that the appropriation committee, this particular committee, came up with the language, and Paul Wilson, who was the staff director at the time, worked up this language. It had the concurrence of the Comptroller General, and it has had his blessing through the years. It has worked well.
Mr. BOYLE. I have the language taken out of the Report on the Legislative Appropriation Act of 1958 which might answer the question or help to answer it.
It says: The provision that allows GPO to use the current year's appropriation to liquidate prior year obligations was established in fiscal year 1958 with the concurrence of the General Accounting Office because the Government Printing Office exercises no control over the volume of printing and binding that is required by law to be performed for the Congress. GAO concluded that the Congress intended to authorize the Public Printer to perform the work ordered by the Congress and that it will appropriate the funds necessary to meet any prior year deficiency. The House Appropriations Committee stated in Report No. 455.
Mr. DEVAUGHN. That is the 85th Congress.
That printing and binding for the two Houses of Congress is performed under various provisions of the law. Most of it is wholly insusceptible of accurate forecast as to volume. Such major items as the daily and permanent Congressional Record, number of bills introduced, number and length of hearings may and do vary widely from day to day and year to year. The result is that neither the Printing Office nor the committee can adequately judge financial requirements in advance. For this reason the committee has adopted language providing that if requirements in a given fiscal year exceed the amount appropriated, the difference can, if necessary, be charged against the subsequent year's appropriation. This will permit orderly financing arrangements pending opport'inity of the Public Printer to present the full facts in the situation to the committee.
UNLIQUIDATED OBLIGATIONS Mr. BENJAMIN. How much in the way of funds do you have that have been obligated for fiscal year 1978 or preceding years that have yet to be spent?
Mr. DEVAUGHN. We have a great deal. We can provide a list, but we have funds going all the way back to the 1950s.
Mr. MERCER. We can provide you a complete history of the whole thing.
Mr. BENJAMIN. Do you still think the job is going to come through?
Mr. DEVAUGHN. Yes, sir. They are unliquidated obligations. Yes, sir. We are required by section 1311 of the Supplemental Appropriation Act of 1955 to reverify the validity of the unliquidated obligations every year. If we decide that jobs have been canceled or won't come through, then that money would revert back to the Treasury.
Mr. BENJAMIN. How extensive is that list?
Mr. DEVAUGHN. In money it is not that much. But in volume, of course, we list each job and jacket number, and it might be a tabulation about this thick. That would be about 2 inches.
Mr. BENJAMIN. When you review them, how do you analyze whether the job is going to be completed, and if it is not going to be completed, what do you do with these obligated but unliquidated funds?
Mr. DEVAUGHN. If it is not going to be completed, if that determination is made, then the money would revert back to the Treasury. We would deobligate, or in effect, unobligate it, and at that point it would be beyond the expiration period and would revert back to the Treasury.
Mr. BENJAMIN. How do you ascertain in your review that the job is not going to be completed?
Mr. DEVAUGHN. Mr. Sonntag keeps us advised by his contacts with the various committees. We know whose work it is, and he has more of a feel for whether the work is still viable or not.
Mr. SONNTAG. We check with the committees to see if it is still alive.
Mr. BENJAMIN. If I understand it, we have the obligated but unliquidated funds dating back 20 years or more.
Mr. DEVAUGHN. Yes, sir.
Mr. BENJAMIN. Give me some idea, just give me an example of something like that here on the Hill.
Mr. BOYLE. Yes, sir, we will furnish it for the record, but it is interesting. We have an executive agency, one, in particular for which we have set type that stands for 20 or 25 years before we ever print it because of the security nature.
[The information follows:]
Sample Listing of Outstanding Obligated Work
(as of March 1, 1979)
House Document 264 82nd Congress, 1st Session
-- By-Law Reserve
50-472 38-059 54-063
House Science and Technology ERDA Generic Laws - Volume D House Con. Res. 772
Presidential Debates - Volume III
Senate Human Resources
Committee Print Publication
Secretary of Senate
- 79 - 7 (Pt. 2)
Senate Commerce, Science
National Climate Policy
Mr. BENJAMIN. How about other than the security aspects of it with the State Department?
Mr. BOYLE. Very seldom.
Mr. BENJAMIN. Do you have these outstanding obligations for Congressional work? Can anybody answer that?
Mr. DEVAUGHN. Yes, we do have those continued obligations. Mr. SONNTAG. It would be on some publications.
Mr. DEVAUGHN. Can you come up with an example now?
Mr. SONNTAG. It doesn't really go back that far, but one that will probably continue is the Precedents of the House, or Deschler's Precedents. We have only completed the second volume in 2 years. I understand they anticipated 8. volumes. At the pace we are receiving copy right now, it could take 3 or 4 more years.
Mr. BENJAMIN. Perhaps the better thing for GPO to have done then is to ask for appropriations for the volumes in the correct fiscal years instead of asking for a total appropriation that would extend over these numbers of years.
Mr. BOYLE. But we would have to go to whoever had authority over this job and get their estimate of how much work is involved.
Mr. BENJAMIN. That is what you have to do anyway.
Mr. DEVAUGHN. It would increase the appropriated amounts. We would be releasing funds that had already been appropriated. For instance, those eight volumes would come in in one year, then we ask for that money and then we obligate it. If we had released that back to the Treasury, then the following year we would have to come in and ask for a new obligation authority from the appropriation committee. We would do that every year, and if you added up our appropriations, they would be higher.
Mr. BENJAMIN. Let me see if I understand you, as our fine people tell us here.
On a macroeconomic scale, let's say you have $1 million in obligations that you haven't spent, and since the Federal Government is in a deficit position, that has to be financed. Someone has to go out and sell some type of government note at 10 percent or above now, so as a taxpayer I am paying $100,000 for you keeping those funds.
Mr. DEVAUGHN. No, sir. The financing is done on a cash flow estimate rather than obligation. All we have is the authority to obligate. There are no funds set aside in the Treasury for us for these amounts, and they sell their bonds at 10 percent on a cash flow basis, and we give them estimates on that.
Mr. BENJAMIN. Let me ask one more question on that.
What if the initial obligation was 10,000 copies of a document, and when they finally come to you for the outlay, it turns out to be 25,000. What do you do?
Mr. DEVAUGHN. We would charge the difference against the current year's appropriation and then come to you, as we are now, on a deficiency for that prior year.
Were those dollars you were using?
Mr. DEVAUGHN. Yes. Whatever the excess was, we would ask for the deficiency appropriation, just the way we are doing here.
Mr. BENJAMIN. Incidentally, is this $3,819,000 deficiency appropriation after the 5 percent obligation has been withheld?
Mr. DEVAUGHN. No, sir.
Mr. BENJAMIN. Then if I understand you, we are not only looking at the possibility of not withholding the $5,431,000, but we are also looking at an addition to the 1979 appropriation of $3,819,000.
Mr. DEVAUGHN. There are two other appropriations available to us. We are not conceding complete defeat yet. This is only the Printing and Binding Appropriation. We also have the Congressional Printing and Binding, and we have the Superintendent of Documents Salaries and Expenses.
Mr. BENJAMIN. Is the GPO in a position to reprogram instead of requesting a deficiency appropriation?
Mr. DEVAUGHN. No, sir.
Mr. BOYLE. We are totally dependent on saying yes to the Congress and delivering the amount of work they require at the cost that is required to do it, and we don't have any control over the volume. We don't have any money to reprogram. We also can't reprogram on the basis of an executive agency by saying, we are going to stop printing bills because we have more hearings than we anticipated or vice versa.
Mr. BENJAMIN. Let's look at it this way. If I understand what you are saying, this deficiency appropriation comes up because of orders that were submitted and completed in a following fiscal year. You then program what the costs are originally estimated to be, and obligate the funds. You never liquidated the funds, or you only liquidated a part of that obligation. That would mean that you would have jobs started now in fiscal year 1979 that conceivably would not be completed in fiscal year 1980, so consequently you are not going to liquidate those funds. Apparently, you may come back to us in 1981 for fiscal year 1980 or 1979.
You are telling me that those funds could not be reprogrammed?
Mr. DEVAUGHN. I am not sure I know what you mean by "reprogramming
Mr. BENJAMIN. I say to you in all candor that I don't think we are going to get a supplemental.
Mr. DEVAUGHN. I am not sure I know what you mean by "reprogram.”
Mr. BENJAMIN. Where you have obligated the funds you say at this point you are going to use it as an outlay for jobs actually done.
Mr. DEVAUGHN. Yes, sir.
Mr. BENJAMIN. I think somebody had better look at that, because I don't visualize, and I could be absolutely wrong, that there is going to be a general supplemental.
Mr. BOYLE. We will take another look at it.