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Friday, April 27, 2007

Continuing resolutions put agencies on edge

It’s been a decade since Congress has provided all agencies with operating budgets by the beginning of the fiscal year. Congress requires program managers to make plans almost two years in advance but forces them to operate under the prior year’s budgets based on those two-year-old plans. This is no way to run an operation of any size.

Unfortunately, Congress seems incapable of delivering the first step in the accountability chain: a funded budget in the form of an appropriations bill.

By not meeting the Oct. 1 deadline, Congress is funding 47 activities that had been proposed to expire in 2007 and simultaneously preventing the start of 10 activities that were planned for 2007. In dollar terms, $8.4 billion is being spent for activities that should have ended this year, and $1.9 billion is not being spent for activities that were planned to begin. How is one to manage in this environment? Who is accountable for what?

Perhaps it’s time for the Government Accountability Office to report on the true costs of Congress’ continuing-resolution habit.

- Steve Charles, ImmixGroup, Commentary for WashingtonTechnology.com

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