Department of the Interior--Availability of Funds for Payment to Swain County, North Carolina
B-323699: Dec 5, 2012
A Member of Congress requested GAO's opinion concerning whether the National Park Service may use its fiscal year 2012 appropriated funds to make additional payments to Swain County, North Carolina pursuant to the Memorandum of Agreement Relating to Non-Construction of North Shore Road entered into in February 2010 (2010 Agreement). Under the 2010 Agreement, the Department of the Interior settled a claim with Swain County for its failure to construct a road. After making an initial payment on the settlement amount, DOI agreed to pay the balance as and when funds are expressly appropriated by Congress for that purpose.
We conclude that the National Park Service has no contractual obligation under the 2010 Agreement to make additional settlement payments in fiscal year 2012 because the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 did not designate any amount expressly for that purpose. However, the limitation of contractual liability under the 2010 Agreement does not render a lump sum appropriation unavailable to the Park Service for the payment of a properly settled claim. If the Park Service determines that its lump sum appropriation is available to pay properly settled claims, the Park Service may, in its discretion, elect to make a payment to Swain County under the 2010 Agreement.