GAO to review agency sequestration planning, implementation

Monday - 3/18/2013, 5:43am EDT

The Government Accountability Office is analyzing how agencies prepared for and are implementing sequestration.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) submitted a request to GAO March 1 asking auditors to examine five different facets of sequestration.

A GAO spokesman said the agency has not yet begun that work and it is too early to say when it might issue a report.

President Barack Obama issued the sequestration order March 1, requiring almost every agency to apply across-the-board cuts that equal $85 billion by Sept. 30.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)

Ryan asked GAO to review the actual sequester order, as well as the July 31 memo to agencies from the Office of Management and Budget. He also wants GAO to look at any supporting reports, regulations and orders for compliance with the Budget Control Act, the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, and other relevant statutes.

Additionally, Ryan asked GAO to "review how agencies determined what constituted a 'program, project, or activity' for purposes of the sequester."

Auditors also will look at the cuts themselves, by detailing how agencies used reprogramming and transfer authorities.

Finally, Ryan asked GAO to "review the extent to which agencies made use of furloughs or reductions in force in response to the sequester, and whether agencies had other alternatives available to them to achieve some or all of the savings."

Many agencies are turning to furloughs to deal with the sequestration cuts. Furloughs for many agencies will not start until late-April or early May.

House and Senate versions of the fiscal 2013 spending bill addresses sequestration mildly by giving the Defense Department some reprogramming authorities to better control how the military applies the spending cuts.

The Senate is expected to vote on its version of the appropriations bill this week.

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