Federal Program Inventories vs OMB: $622 Billion Missing

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The Missing $622 Billion

My last article spoke about the many problems in the Federal Program Inventory, including how “over a fifth of the federal government’s budget cannot be allocated to clearly-defined programs.” If you’re anything like me, you want to see the data. So here is the reported Budget Authority by agency as reported by the Federal Program Inventory (FPI) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Budget Authority (Dollars in Millions)
Agency FPI Budget Authority OMB Budget Authority % Reported by FPI
Office of Personnel Management 2,396.94 86,973 2.76%
Department of the Treasury 23,695 440,900 5.37%
Dept. of Health and Human Services 116,264 873,330 13.31%
Department of Agriculture 33,093 154,924 21.36%
Department of State 12,476.519 29,584 42.17%
Dept. of Housing & Urban Development 60,172 68,969 87.24%
Department of Defense 526,000.332 585,239 89.88%
National Science Foundation 6,516.55 6,997 93.13%
Department of Homeland Security 60,831.918 61,873 98.32%
Social Security Administration 880,088 109,001 101.21%
Department of Veterans Affairs 137,972 135,984 101.46%
Department of Transportation 84,103 82,816 101.55%
Department of Justice 28,628 28,106 101.86%
NASA 17,894.4 16,868 106.08%
General Services Administration -1,335 -1,255 106.37%
EPA (my correction) 9,108.827 8,413 108.27%
Small Business Administration 1,042 952 109.45%
Department of Labor 91,921.928 82,267 111.74%
Department of Energy 27,999.4 21,160 132.32%
Department of the Interior 15,564.533 11,761 132.34%
Department of Commerce 10,742 7,959 134.74%
Department of Education 84,614.852 39,495 214.24%
EPA (as reported) 9,108,827 8,413 108,270.85%
Total (using EPA actual) 2,229,772.199 2,852,316.000 78.17%


The discrepancy here is $622.543 billion. That’s $1,969 for each man, woman, and child in the United States, according to the Census Bureau’s latest reckoning of population. Not that you would be able to find that out by reading the reports designed specifically so the American people could learn what their government is up to.  That’s 1,969 reasons for every American to ignore these reports, which are as I said last time: a colossal, inconsistent, expensive waste of everyone’s time.

Detail-oriented readers might notice that the Inventories were written in 2013, the year of the sequester, while OMB’s records have been updated and revised at least as recently as 2014. It might seem, then, that the difference between the Inventories and the Office of Management and Budget could simply be a failure to account for the sequester.

As I noted, the sequester occurred in March 2013, months before the Inventories were submitted. In fact, it was supposed to occur in January of 2013 and if the parties writing the Inventories were at all responsible, they should have been prepared for it then. They were not and did not.

Further, according to this document from the Office of Management and Budget, the amount of budget authority lost to the sequester in 2013 was $85 billion. Again, the difference between the Inventories and the OMB’s records is over $622 billion. The sequester would have to have been more than six times as bad as it was for it to account for the discrepancies I documented.

The sequester cost the government 2.37% of its budget. The budget surpassed its pre-sequester spending levels in 2014. OMB estimates that in six short years, the budget will be $4.76 trillion, 133% higher than 2012.

The sequester meant nothing in the long run. Knowing that, the government distributed this “fact sheet” , which actually alleges near the end that the sequester could result in “deaths from HIV”. The government is prepared to debase itself by saying that caring about fiscal responsibility can kill people with HIV/AIDS.

This behavior is pathetic and intolerable. A 2.37% budget cut can kill people with HIV/AIDS? Is every tendril of the federal government really so essential?

Former Senator Tom Coburn compiled a list of $30 billion of wasteful programs from 2010-2013. One person found that much waste. And yet Nancy Pelosi believes “There’s no more cuts to make”.

With $30 billion to waste, you’d think the least the government could do is maintain consistent records.



Methodology: For the Federal Program Inventory numbers (FPI), I summed total Budget Authority (both discretionary and mandatory) from each individual Inventory report. For the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), I used the figures from Historical Table 5.2, found here, which notes that they are “to the extent feasible…consisten[t]” with the 2015 President’s Budget. Dollar amounts here are presented in millions of dollars. Thus, “1,000” in the chart represents a billion dollars. Data is sorted by ascending order of %.

Photo used here under Flickr Creative Commons.

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Matheson Russell is the Financial Analyst for Marotta Wealth Management. He specializes in tax laws, forms, policy, and planning. He loves complex rules systems, animals, and Koine Greek. His favorite stories are The Jungle Books.