Senate Preservation Fund:

Audit of Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010 Transactions

GAO-12-271R: Published: Feb 16, 2012. Publicly Released: Feb 16, 2012.

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Contact:

Steven J. Sebastian
(202) 512-9521
sebastians@gao.gov

 

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What GAO Found

For fiscal years 2009 and 2010, the Fund’s recorded transactions consisted of 136 investment and operating transactions recorded and accounted for by the Library. The Fund’s recorded transactions were authorized in advance, supported by documentation, and accurately accounted for. However, while the Fund’s transactions were generally recorded promptly, we did identify five instances where transactions were not promptly recorded by the Library. We found that all recorded transactions were in compliance with the applicable laws that we deemed significant to the objectives of our audit.

For fiscal years 2009 and 2010, the Commission’s operating and oversight practices for the Fund were documented and in place. For the same period, the Library’s operating and reporting practices for the Fund were documented and in place with the exception of investment practices. The documented practices at both the Commission and the Library helped to ensure that Fund transactions were properly executed and Fund assets were adequately safeguarded. The Commission had documented operating practices used to account for the receipts, disbursements, investments, and oversight of the Fund. These practices are described in legislation, a Commission Delegation Letter, the United States Senate Acquisition Policy, a memorandum from the Commission to the Library, and accounting guidelines for the Fund. The Library had documented operating practices that it used to account for Fund disbursements in its payment directive. In addition, the Library’s accounting guidelines provided documented procedures for the Library to process receipts and report to the Commission on a quarterly basis. However, during the period covered by our audit, fiscal years 2009 and 2010, the Library’s investment practices used in providing services to the Commission were not documented and approved. In September 2011, the Library formally documented and approved investment procedures that will help provide assurance that the Fund’s assets will be consistently invested in accordance with applicable operating practices.

The Commission’s Executive Secretary worked with the Library’s Chief Financial Officer and Commission staff to address our recommendations from our prior audit of the Fund to document and formally approve operating practices related to the Library’s and the Commission’s processing of Fund transactions, reporting, monitoring, and follow-up by the Commission and Library on Fund-related matters. During the period covered by our audit, the Library’s Chief Financial Officer worked with Commission staff to issue accounting guidelines for the Fund that formally documented procedures for reporting and processing of Fund transactions. In addition, the Commission issued a letter to the Executive Secretary delegating the authority to approve certain disbursements and documenting and formally approving the Commission’s operating practices for disbursements. In September 2011, the Commission and the Library amended the guidelines to include procedures for follow-up between the two entities and to document the Commission’s responsibilities for monitoring Fund transactions and safeguarding Fund assets. In commenting on a draft of this report the Library’s Chief Financial Officer and the Commission’s Executive Secretary concurred with the findings and conclusions.

Why GAO Did This Study

In September 2003, the Senate Preservation Fund (Fund) was established within the U.S. Treasury (Treasury). The Fund is available to the Senate Commission on Art (Commission) to fund various activities related to works of art, historical objects, documents, and materials relating to historical matters, or exhibits in the Capitol and Senate office buildings. The Library of Congress (Library) provides financial management and disbursing services and support to the Commission. GAO is required to audit the Fund and report the results to the Commission.

This report presents the results of our audit of the Fund’s transactions during fiscal years 2009 and 2010. Our objectives were to determine (1) whether the Fund’s recorded transactions for fiscal years 2009 and 2010 were authorized in advance, supported by documentation, accurately accounted for, and in compliance with applicable laws; (2) whether operating, reporting and oversight practices were documented and in place at the Commission and the Library to help ensure that Fund transactions were properly executed and Fund assets were adequately safeguarded; and (3) what actions the Commission’s Executive Secretary, in coordination with Library and Commission staff, had taken to address recommendations from our prior audit of the Fund.

For more information, contact Steven J. Sebastian at (202) 512-9521 or sebastians@gao.gov.

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