What GAO Found
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 designated $9.1 billion for 4,963 projects at the request of Members of Congress. The act includes provisions designating amounts of funds for particular recipients, such as local governments and nonprofit organizations, to use for specific projects. These provisions are called “Congressionally Directed Spending” in the U.S. Senate and “Community Project Funding” in the House of Representatives. Eighteen federal agencies were appropriated funds for these provisions. The agencies are responsible for distributing these funds to designated recipients and monitoring the funds.
The funds are designated for several broad purposes, or budget functions, as shown in the figure below. Budget functions are broad categories into which all federal spending is placed.
Budget Functions for Funding Provided through Community Project Funding/Congressionally Directed Spending Provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022
aThe Other category includes two budget functions: General Government and Income Security. Also included is Department of Homeland Security and Department of the Interior funding spread across multiple functions. Under General Government, $53.5 million was appropriated to the General Services Administration for 4 projects, and $36.8 million was appropriated to the National Archives and Records Administration for 13 projects. Under Income Security, $5 million was appropriated to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for one project. About $203.1 million was appropriated to the Department of Homeland Security for 122 projects that fall into multiple functions and $1.3 million was appropriated to the Department of the Interior for 2 projects that fall into multiple functions.
The designated recipients for about half (over 2,300) of the nearly 5,000 projects are tribal, state, territorial, or local governments. Recipients for the other projects are higher education and other nonprofit organizations or the federal government. Under the process for requesting these provisions, members could not request funds directly for for-profit entities. The projects are located in 47 states, four U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia (see figure below).
Distribution of Funding Provided through Community Project Funding/Congressionally Directed Spending Provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, by Location
Note: Community Project Funding/Congressionally Directed Spending provisions include several projects that will affect more than one state, such as water management projects along a river. Appropriated funds for these multi-state projects total over $100 million and affect 31 states. While no specific projects are located in Montana and Wyoming, two multi-state rural water projects have been identified as affecting those two states along with five others.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 specifies a period of availability for each appropriation from which funds were designated. For example, 68 percent of the funds are available for agencies to obligate to recipients for a fixed period, ranging from 1 year to 5 years. After the funds’ period of availability expires, agencies generally will have 5 years to fully disburse the funds. The remaining 32 percent of funds are not time limited, so the funds are available for obligation until they are expended. In some instances, the timeline that agencies set for recipients to spend funds may be shorter than what is specified in law.
Why GAO Did This Study
During the fiscal year 2022 appropriations process, Members of Congress could request funds for specific projects.
Congress established new requirements to help ensure transparency around these requests. It also included a provision in the joint explanatory statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, for GAO to review the agencies’ implementation of these provisions.
This report provides an overview of fiscal year 2022 Community Project Funding/Congressionally Directed Spending. Specifically, it provides information on (1) the agencies that were appropriated these funds; (2) the purpose of the funds, types of designated recipients, and location of projects; and (3) the period of availability of these funds.
This report also includes information on the scope and methodology for GAO’s reviews of the 18 agencies’ plans to distribute and monitor these funds. These 18 agency-specific reviews are available at https://www.gao.gov/tracking-funds.
GAO analyzed data from the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 and accompanying joint explanatory statement to describe the agencies receiving funds and the purpose of the funds, and to provide information on the designated recipients and projects. To develop the 18 agency-specific reports, GAO also interviewed officials from these agencies using a standardized question set, among other things.
Revised September 16, 2022 to clarify that the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 designated funds for 4,963 projects at the request of Members of Congress as noted in the Highlights page, Introduction, and Appendix V. This change is based on new information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showing that four of its projects identified in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 and the accompanying joint explanatory statement were appropriated funds from other sources.