Laffer curves, supply-side economics and trickle-down theories aside, the Reagan administration seems to have achieved some kind of miracle with its transition budget. In December, 1980, the transition budget chief, Verne Orr (now secretary of the Air Force), was admitting that, what with inflation and all, the $2 million appropriated by Congress wasn't going to stretch. He figured that the transition was going to run about 50 percent over budget, and urgent appeals went out for private funds to fill the gap.

Comes now a General Accounting Office report on the cost of the Reagan-Bush transition: $1,746,544 of the allocated $2 million "plus an unreported amount of funds solicited from the public."

The GAO didn't have access to records on those privately solicited funds, and so it can't explain how the transition managed to crawl out of the red and get by with $300,000 less than Congress appropriated. But it is noted in the report--as it was noted back in December, 1980--that the Carter transition had spent less money than Congress appropriated. About $300,000 less, to be precise.

The report, requested by Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) also found that the transition cost the six agencies it studied about $235,000 in general revenue funds, mostly for staff time spent gathering information requested by the transition team. In several cases, agency employes were improperly assigned to work for the transition teams on a non-reimbursable basis, and in one case, a transition official got the Department of Transportation to hire two transition team workers.

When he asked for the report in December, 1980, Dingell's main concern was whether or not the transition teams were laying their hands on classified or confidential material. The GAO says they weren't, except for an apparently minor budget document relinquished by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.