Justice and Law Enforcement:

Review of Special Counsel Expenses for 6 Months Ended September 30, 2008

GAO-09-367R: Published: Mar 31, 2009. Publicly Released: Mar 31, 2009.

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This report presents the results of GAO's review of the expenses of the Office of Special Counsel-Patrick J. Fitzgerald (OSC-Fitzgerald) for the 6 months ended September 30, 2008. The expenses we reviewed were those made by the Department of Justice (DOJ) between April 1, 2008, and September 30, 2008, from the permanent, indefinite appropriation (fund) for OSC-Fitzgerald. To determine if there were additional payments made subsequent to the 6-month period covered by our review, we also reviewed expenses paid out of the fund between October 1, 2008, and February 28, 2009. DOJ determined that the appropriation established by Public Law 100-2021 to fund expenses by independent counsels pursuant to the independent counsel law or other law is available to fund the expenses of U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who was appointed as a special counsel within the Department of Justice by the then-Acting Attorney General. Under this law, we are required to perform semiannual financial reviews of expenses from the fund, and, we report our findings to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. To satisfy this requirement, we review each expense processed by DOJ to determine whether it was properly authorized and approved, supported by appropriate documentation, recorded accurately, and made in accordance with selected provisions of laws and regulations.

Our review of the expenses on behalf of Special Counsel Fitzgerald covering the 6 months ended September 30, 2008, found that DOJ processed expenses totaling $14,806. The expenses consisted of personnel compensation and benefits, travel, and lodging. We found that the expenses for personnel compensation and benefits, travel, and lodging were supported by appropriate documentation and were properly authorized, approved, and recorded. For the period of our review, personnel compensation and benefits of employees assigned to work with the special counsel amounted to $8,093. The special counsel also incurred travel expenses of $6,713, primarily consisting of travel expenses paid during the current period that were reimbursements of travel and lodging expenses previously incurred during the appeal process. Our tests for compliance with selected provisions of laws and regulations disclosed no instances of noncompliance with respect to the expenses processed by DOJ on behalf of OSC-Fitzgerald that would be reportable under U.S. generally accepted government auditing standards. In conducting our review, we determined that from October 1, 2008, through February 28, 2009, the only additional expenses paid out of the permanent indefinite appropriation were $50 in compensation expenses related to Special Counsel Fitzgerald. The expenses were supported by appropriate documentation and were properly authorized, approved, and recorded. In addition, there was a credit of $875 for a check that was never deposited by a vendor and thus voided by the DOJ.

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