[Request for Update of Legal Decision]
B-213137, Jan 30, 1986
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed a decision that addressed the propriety of the Department of Defense's (DOD) actions on previous recommendations concerning the use of operation and maintenance (O&M) appropriations for three categories of activities in connection with its conduct of joint combined military training exercises in Honduras, including: (1) construction activities; (2) training of foreign forces; and (3) provision of civic and humanitarian assistance to Honduran civilians. In that decision, GAO concluded that DOD had improperly financed foreign aid and security assistance activities through its O&M accounts. In reviewing its decision, GAO encountered considerable DOD disagreement with some of the basic legal conclusions, particularly regarding the treatment of exercise-related engineering activities as military construction. GAO reaffirmed its decision and recommended further clarification of DOD authority in this area. Since the decision was issued, Congress has enacted additional funding authority for DOD civic and humanitarian activities. GAO believes that the DOD interpretation of that new authority is reasonable; however, it remains concerned that the large scale of such activities may go beyond the levels that Congress contemplated. GAO found that the cognizant committees: (1) were concerned about DOD utilization of O&M funds for activities within the scope of other funding sources; (2) stated that DOD exercises clearly went beyond fund appropriation specifications; and (3) directed that DOD take steps to prevent recurrence of such improprieties.