Six federal agencies have submitted publication and audiovisual budgets for fiscal 1984 that the Office of Management and Budget considers to be so "out of line" that it has withheld the figures from its annual report to Congress.
"If we publish the numbers, they'll get defensive at the agencies and try harder to maintain the unreasonably high budgets," said William McQuaid, OMB's chief publications budget watcher.
In the new report, OMB says it will have cut the federal spending for publications and audiovisual products by $36 million from fiscal 1981 to 1984.
But figures for the Health and Human Services Department, which spends more on publications than any other civilian agency, were not included. Also left out were some figures for the Treasury Department, U.S. Information Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the General Services Administration, the Peace Corps and the Panama Canal Commission. The Transportation Department, meanwhile, failed to submit figures for fiscal 1983 or 1984.
The report praises the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Education, Energy and Labor and the Agency for International Development for showing "considerable restraint in spending." Among the small independent agencies, OMB praised the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for doing "particularly good jobs of reviewing spending."
According to the report, spending on periodicals will drop from $54 million in fiscal 1981 to $41.4 million in fiscal 1984. The cost of pamphlets will decline from $58.6 million to $46.4 million. Audiovisual spending is expected to drop from $86.5 million to $75.3 million.
McQuaid said the agencies offered various reasons for their high figures, "some of which may be justified." He said, for example, new tax laws have forced the Internal Revenue Service--part of Treasury--to spend more on publications to provide the new rules to taxpayers.