After years of absorbing cuts or flat spending levels, most federal agencies will soon face a novel dilemma: spending a massive influx of money with only a few months to get it out the door.
A recent agreement struck by congressional leadership and signed into law by President Trump boosted non-defense discretionary spending for agencies by $63 billion in fiscal 2018. The measure also included a continuing resolution through March 23 to buy lawmakers time to write line-by-line appropriations, meaning a forthcoming omnibus bill will give agencies only about six months to spend the new funding before it expires Oct. 1. Such a tight timeline could prove problematic for agencies and put pressure on many areas of their operations, according to former federal budgeters.
“This will tax grant making, contract professionals, hiring professionals,” said Robert Shea, a former associate director for administration and government performance at the Office of Management and Budget in the George W. Bush administration. “This is going to tax every facet of the agencies just to make sure they’re spending wisely.”
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