The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Jimmy Carter
Memorandum From the President on Federal Government Spending
July 19, 1978

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

As I did at the end of last fiscal year, I again ask you to help me make sure we continue to use funds wisely. Prevention of unneeded or unwise Federal Government spending is more important than ever in this time of high inflation. Please, therefore, tell your staff not to spend or obligate funds for the sole or even primary purpose of keeping them from lapsing.

Nor should they speed up spending to avoid a shortfall that would occur solely, or even primarily, because earlier outlay estimates were too optimistic. Funds should be used only for clear and desirable program purposes.

Please issue instructions assuring that:

—obligations for the fourth quarter of the fiscal year are no higher than for the third quarter, except where seasonal requirements, essential program objectives, or procurement lead-times justify a higher level, or where more money is needed to restore program slippages to approved levels;

—orders for supplies, materials, and equipment are no more than needed to meet approved program needs;

—purchases are managed so that inventories do not exceed optimal levels;

—contracts for goods or services (for delivery extending into the next fiscal year) are let only when doing so will result in lower cost to the Government; and

—no purchases are made to compensate for what otherwise would be an outlay shortfall. Resist the temptation to buy and pay for lower priority items to make up for over-optimistic outlay estimates.

I count on your full cooperation and personal attention to save the taxpayers as much money as possible.


Citation: Jimmy Carter: "Memorandum From the President on Federal Government Spending", July 19, 1978. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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