Examining ‘Backdoor’ Spending by Federal Agencies

Hearing Date: December 11, 2018 10:00 am 2154 Rayburn HOB

  • To examine the extent to which federal agencies use backdoor spending to avoid the annual appropriations process.
  • To explore how backdoor spending undermines Congress’ authority and what Congress can do to reassert its authority over the power of the purse.
  • Backdoor spending is federal agency spending not subject to congressional review through the annual appropriations process. Spending outside of the appropriations process undermines congressional oversight by allowing agencies to fund agency operations and unappropriated programs without annual approval by Congress.
  • On December 11, 2018, the Government Accountability (GAO) will issue a report examining federal agency use of backdoor spending. According to GAO, federal agencies reported $3.2 trillion in backdoor spending in 2015, an 88 percent increase since 1994.

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
Ms. Tranchau (Kris) T. Nguyen Director of Strategic Issues Government Accountability Office Document
Ms. Julia C. Matta Managing Associate General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel U.S. Government Accountability Office Document
Mr. James Wallner Senior Fellow, Governance Project R Street Institute Document
Mr. Robert Weissman President Public Citizen Document