Biennial Budgeting: Three States' Experiences
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC
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Members of the Congress periodically have expressed interest in converting the federal budget process from an annual to a biennial cycle. These proposals stem in part from frustration over the amount of time spent on the annual budget and appropriations process and the feeling that budget-related actions are both endless and repetitive. Some in the Congress feel that the time spent on these activities has come at the expense of congressional oversight and authorization responsibilities. A biennial budget cycle has been advocated as a way to advance several objectives 1 provide more focused time for congressional oversight and authorization activities by streamlining the congressional budget process, 2 shift the allocation of agency officials time from the preparation of budget documents to improved financial management and analysis of program effectiveness, and 3 provide federal managers and state and local recipients of federal funds more certainty in funding over the longer 2- year period. However, proposals to move to a biennial budget cycle raise a number of concerns. To better understand the states perspectives, it was requested that the General Accounting Office study the biennial budget processes of Arizona, Connecticut, and Ohio in detail. Arizona and Connecticut were selected because they are the only two states that have converted to biennial budgeting in the last 10 years. Ohio was included because among the five states with the highest general fund expenditures, it is the only one that has both a biennial budget process and a legislature that meets annually. In addition, Ohio has been cited as a successful model by advocates of biennial budgeting.
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