Federal Financial Statements Continue to Show Serious Management Weaknesses

Just about every year, we audit the federal government’s monetary statements—including paying out, revenues, and credit card debt. And we just completed our assessment of the FY 2021 statements, the place we when all over again observed the identical severe money management weaknesses that we had observed in earlier many years. These weaknesses hinder the federal government’s means to have responsible, beneficial, and well timed economical information and facts to enable it run effectively and effectively. We also highlighted the need for Congress to establish a prepare for our nation’s fiscal long run.

In today’s blog site article, we glance at the continuing and critical monetary management weaknesses that have at the time once again prevented us from furnishing an opinion on the trustworthiness of the federal government’s monetary statements. And we look at why it is so vital that the government deal with them.


Significant financial management weaknesses

To run as successfully and efficiently as feasible, Congress, the Administration, and federal administrators must have completely ready obtain to trustworthy and comprehensive economic and functionality information and facts. Without having trusted monetary details, which consists of resolving some of the weaknesses we define under, policymakers are not very best positioned to system for the nation’s fiscal long run.

Our report discusses major financial administration weaknesses and ongoing efforts to handle them, which include:

  • The Section of Defense (DOD)—which represents a considerable portion of the federal government’s money statements—continues to encounter really serious, wide-distribute, and lengthy-standing fiscal management complications. DOD proceeds to choose techniques to strengthen its economic administration. For case in point, in FY 2021 DOD claimed that it fixed 13{21df340e03e388cc75c411746d1a214f72c176b221768b7ada42b4d751988996} of prior-calendar year audit findings. However, as in prior years, DOD auditors have been not able to present an opinion on the dependability of DOD’s fiscal statements. DOD acknowledged that obtaining a clear view will choose time and is prioritizing essential areas for improvement.
  • The federal government is not ready to sufficiently account for transactions and balances concerning federal organizations and correctly prepare the government’s financial statements. The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) is creating progress toward addressing these weaknesses. For instance, it issued additional accounting direction for intragovernmental transactions and balances, and carries on to assist federal businesses in greater accounting for their transactions with other businesses. Also, Treasury applied new federal company economical statement demands that additional right connection agency details to information and facts noted in the federal government’s fiscal statements.
  • The Little Business Administration (SBA) continued to apply COVID-19 similar aid for tiny companies impacted by the pandemic. But the urgent need to provide aid as immediately and successfully as possible remaining these applications vulnerable to fraud and improper payments. As a final result of sizeable weaknesses linked to these COVID-19 aid plans, SBA was not capable to receive an view on its fiscal statements, limiting the trustworthiness of SBA’s financial reporting.
  • Also, federal organizations noted improper payments (payments that need to not have been designed or had been designed in the incorrect amount of money) that are estimated to overall about $281 billion for FY 2021. This total does not include improper payment estimates related to certain programs, together with some COVID-19 systems. The federal federal government is getting methods to handle improper payments. On the other hand, the federal governing administration is unable to figure out the full extent to which inappropriate payments occur and moderately guarantee that correct actions are taken to decrease them.

Our extensive-phrase concerns

The 2021 economical statements comprise prolonged-phrase projections which exhibit that, primarily based on current income and shelling out policies, the federal governing administration carries on to face an unsustainable prolonged-phrase fiscal path. Health and fitness treatment and Social Protection paying are expected to carry on to improve faster than GDP, in accordance to very long-expression projections. In addition, the projections present that growing financial debt held by the general public and larger fascination premiums will guide to much more expending on curiosity, which will become the largest classification of federal paying out in 2034. Last but not least, the extended-expression projections exhibit credit card debt held by the public climbing as a share of GDP in the lengthy term. This situation—in which credit card debt held by the community grows a lot quicker than GDP—means the present-day federal fiscal route is unsustainable.

Congress and the Administration have responded in an unprecedented fashion to COVID-19—including trillions of dollars put in on the public overall health crisis and economic impacts of the pandemic. After the pandemic recedes and the overall economy continues to recuperate, Congress and the Administration need to quickly pivot to creating a system to position the federal government on a sustainable extensive-term fiscal route. Properly-created fiscal guidelines and targets can support regulate credit card debt by managing variables like paying out and profits as element of a long-time period fiscal system. Further more, we have advisable that Congress contemplate alternative strategies to the existing financial debt limit as component of any extended-phrase fiscal plan.

Federal economical administration advancements

All round, the federal govt has manufactured major strides in increasing economic management because the Main Economic Officers Act of 1990 was enacted. For case in point, 21 of 24 key organizations obtained thoroughly clean views on their FY 2021 economical statements, up from six organizations for FY 1996. But however additional demands to be completed. You can come across out about the progress and troubles remaining in federal money management by examining out our August 2020 report.

Minnie Arwood

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