Independent Counsels:

GAO Audit Responsibilities After OIC Termination

AIMD-99-164R: Published: Jun 4, 1999. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on its audit responsibilities for independent counsels who have completed their investigations or whose offices have been officially terminated.

GAO noted that: (1) Public Law 100-202 established a permanent, indefinite appropriation to fund independent counsel operations; (2) independent counsels are required under 28 U.S.C. 596(c)(1) to prepare reports on their expenditures from the appropriation for each 6-month period in which they have operations, including the periods in which they complete their investigations, and to provide the reports to GAO within 3 months after the end of the 6-month reporting period; (3) independent counsels whose offices are officially terminated have 3 months from the date of the termination to provide GAO with their final reports; (4) to satisfy the requirements of 28 U.S.C. 596(c)(2) and Public Law 100-202, GAO audits the expenditure reports and issues its audit report by March 31 and September 30 of each year in which expenditures occur; (5) independent counsels continue to have expenditures from the appropriation between the time they complete their investigations and the time their offices are officially terminated; (6) these expenditures typically occur due to the need to archive records and because of the time lags between the dates: (a) vendors or others provide goods and services; (b) invoices or bills are received, verified, and authorized for payment; and (c) expenditures are made; (7) expenditures can also occur after an independent counsel's office has been officially terminated; (8) one independent counsel who completed his investigation in 1995 and whose office was officially terminated in 1998 received a bill in 1999 for travel expenses incurred by detailees from another federal agency during the independent counsel's investigation; (9) the timing of the completion of an investigation or the termination of an office of independent counsel has no bearing on GAO's audit responsibilities; (10) GAO's audit responsibilities are driven by the expenditure of funds from the permanent, indefinite appropriation; (11) GAO performs much of its audit work at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC); (12) AOUSC provides administrative support to all the independent counsels and processes and maintains a centralized record of all independent counsel expenditures; and (13) GAO's interaction with independent counsels after they have completed their investigations or after their offices have been officially terminated has been limited to reviewing documentation for the remaining expenditures and obtaining representations regarding final expenditure reports.

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