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LEGISLATION MANDATING SPECIFIC RESPONSIBILITIES TO GAO
Legislation and committee reports frequently require GAO to make particular studies or audits. They involve specific one time requirements which need to be met in a stated time frame--usually by a specific date. The following are illustrative of the specific legislative bandates which will require increased resources in FY 1980 that were enacted since we made our last budget submission.
-The Federal Banking Agency Audit Act (P.L. 95-320, 7/21/78) directs the
Comptroller General to conduct audits of the Federal Reserve Board,
--FY 1978 Amendments to the Small Business Act (P.L. 95-507, 10/24/78)
require GAO to evaluate and report by January 1, 1981, on four SBA
-The Civil Service Reform Legislation (P.L. 95-454, 10/13/78),
representing a major congressional and Administration effort to
--Federal Government Pension Plan Reporting (P.L. 95-595, 11/4/78)
requires GAO to audit the financial activities of the pension plans.
--Ethics in Government Act of FY 1978 (P.L. 95-521, 10/26/78) requires
us, by November 30, 1980, to study the legislative branch's financial
need for a requirement that systematic randon audits be conducted
--The Nuclear Anti-Proliferation Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-242, 3/10/78)
requires GAO to assess the implementation and impact of that Act on
-House Conference Report on Education Amendments of 1978 (House Report
95-1753, 10/15/78) stated that CAO should pay particular attention to
Six additional pieces of legislation and reports of conference committees will require 28 staff years of audit and evaluation work in FY 1980,
LEGISLATION CREATING OR EXPANDING FEDERAL PROGRAMS
With only very minor exceptions, GAO is required to audit and evaluate the operations of all Federal agencies and their programs. Our basic 1921 legislation--reemphasized by various pieces of additional legislation through the years--gives us this massive audit and evaluation responsibility over the range of Federal activities. This total workload remains in place from year to year. In effect, our basic legislation requires us to obtain the resources that are needed and to use them in a way that provides meaningful audit and evaluation coverage over our total workload.
Each new piece of legislation, which adds a new program, or modifies or expands an existing one, effectively increases our total workload whether or not 1t specifically calls for GAO audit. GAO's FY 1980 workload has been increased by 6 pieces of new legislation which, while not mandating GAO work, nevertheless requires audit attention in FY 1980. Our analysis of this new legislation points out that we will need to use 31 staff years in FY 1980.
A few examples of such legislation which was enacted since our last request for resources was made include the following:
--The National Climate Program Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-367, 9/17/78).
This Act establishes a National climate Program Office. That office will establish goals and priorities and will outline the role of various Federal agencies such as Agriculture, Commerce, Defense,
Interior, State, Transportation, and Energy. GAO work related to · functions covered by that Act will require 4 staff years in FY 1980.
--Agriculture Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-460,
10/14/78). Some 10 staff years will be used in FY 1980 to determine the effectiveness of this Act in meeting difficulties in determining the ownership of agricultural land by foreign nationals.
--The Natural Gas Provisions of the National Energy Act (P.L. 95-621,
11/9/78). This Act requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
staff years will need to be used in FY 1980 on work related to the provisions of this Act.
--Omnibus Parks Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-625,11/10/78). This Act includes
150 projects in 44 states. It provides for major new urban park additions, expands the boundaries of existing national parks, creates new wilderness areas, and adjusts the cost ceiling of several park service units. This legislation increases the work that GAO needs to do in FY 1980 by 5 staff years.
REQUESTS OF COMMITTEES AND MEMBERS
Another of our more important responsibilities--over which we have little or no control--is our response to the requests of Committees and Members of Congress for the performance of particular audits and evaluations usually in a specified time frame. In recent years, these requests have continued to increase in frequency, number and scope. It is clear that further increases will occur in FY 1980.
The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 directs GAO to respond to the requests of committees. We also try to meet the requests of individual Members in so far as possible. Resource constraints have increasingly made it impossible for us to respond to all of the requests made by Members. For example, in FY 1977 25% of GAO's request work was in response to Member requests. In FY 1978, this had dropped to 22%.
We have long worked with Committees and members on individual requests to seek ways in which we can consolidate similar requests for work from different committees or Members. We are frequently able to satisfy request work by expanding or modifying work already in process. And recently completed self-initiated work--which is typically broadly based--frequently meets the needs of individual requestors. Despite this, we will need increased resources in FY 1980 to meet requestors' needs that cannot effectively be set in any other way.
ACTIONS TO MINIMIZE- IN SO FAR AS POSSIBLE--THE NEED FOR
GAO has in place a planning system by which we determine our resource needs and how resources can best be utilized. A major feature of this planning systea is that it defines the issues of current greatest national significance to which GAO can make a substantial contribution. It develops the objectives that can best be sought by audit and evaluation work over a particular period and the lines-of-effort by which they will be achieved. It provides a basis for "orchestrating the individual assignments of all GAO divisions as they help to achieve basic GAO objectives for each such issue. It is a process which considers the needs of Congress and its committees, audit and evaluation work previously done by GAO or by others in or out of government, and advice and assistance of experts in the field, including those from the congressional support agencies--CBO, CRS, and OTA. The essential point is that the GAO planning system provides an effective basis for marshalling resources to accomplish carefully determined objectives. In so doing, it alerts us to areas in which our coverage is in danger of becoming unacceptably thin.
Our request for 5,350 staff years in FY 1980 is based on the increase in GAO's workload which cannot be met by reprogramming, increased productivity or other measures. It is that level which we believe is necessary to maintain minimum overall coverage of agencies and their programs. We have been increasingly concerned that unless new requirements are funded, our audit and evaluation coverage will become unacceptably thin. Our work in defense related areas, particularly, has, in recent years, been diminishing as a percentage of our total work. It is important to prevent a de facto deemphasis in defense related work and to maintain such work at about 25% of total GAO effort.
WORK REQUIRED FOR OFFICE WIDE PROGRAM CATEGORIES
An important perspective by which we establish the need for and manage our use of resources is that of Office-wide program categories which require the participation of all or most GAO divisions. These program categories and our estimate of the staff years that they will require are:
The work that we do in each of these program categories, the congressional mandates giving rise to it, and the need for the FY 1980 resources that we are requesting are described in the following pages.
DIRECT ASSISTANCE TO CONGRESS
Work under this program category fulfills a very significant GAO responsibility. It is the category which covers the work that CAO does in direct support of the Congress, its Committees and Members. This category includes only that work which GAO is specifically required to do. It includes work under the following GAO responsibilities:
--Specific work maridated by statute or by specific recommendations for
--Committee and Member requests. This involves work performed at the
specific, written request of a committee or member. Performance of
--Testimony relating to CAO work including staff effort required to
-- Advice on pending legislation, rendering advisory legal opinions and
assistance in drafting legislation and other legal assistance.
--Staff assigned to Congressional Committees.
--Accounting, auditing and advisory services for House and Senate
financial and administrative operations.
--Congressional liaison activities.
The direct assistance progras category is our fastest growing category. Its growth--relative to the other categories--results from the fact that the volume of such work has increased steadily in recent years. Mandated and request work is "must" work. It must be done in a particular--congressionally directed--time frame. Since in recent years we have not had the additional resources that we needed to meet the new mandated workload, we have had to reprogram from other program categories. This has lapinged on our ability to effectively meet all of our responsibilities and underscores the importance of funding the requirenents of new sandates that cannot be set by reprogramming.
of the work in this category about 10% is specifically sandated by legislation and Connittee reports, about 60% responds to the requests of Committees and 17% to the requests of Members. The remaiaing 132 is required for the other direct assistance functions described above. The proportion of our work responding to Meaber requests has declined in the past several years. Resource constraints have increasingly made it difficult for us to respond to all of the requests sade by Members. To the extent that we cannot seet Member requests, we run the risk of depriving then of an audit and evaluation resource which is of great value in their legislative role. We, therefore, do not see further reductions in this function as a viable reprogramming device.