Financial Crimes Enforcement Network--Obligations under a Cost-Reimbursement, Nonseverable Services Contract
B-317139: Jun 1, 2009
A nonseverable services contract that is not separated for performance by fiscal year may not be funded on an incremental basis without statutory authority. Failure to obligate the estimated cost (or ceiling) of a nonseverable cost-reimbursement contract at the time of award violated the bona fide needs rule. Contract modifications to a cost-reimbursement contract increasing original ceiling are chargeable to appropriations available when the modifications were approved by the contracting officer. The actual date the agency records the obligation in its books is irrelevant to the determination of when the obligation arises and what fiscal year appropriation to charge. A provision in an annual appropriations act designating that a portion of a lump-sum amount "shall be available for" a specific project does not preclude the use of other available appropriations for the project. Because of the $7.5 million provision in FinCEN's fiscal year 2005 appropriation, and the fact that FinCEN obligated more than that on the contract, OIG questions whether FinCEN violated the Antideficiency Act. FinCEN's fiscal year 2005 salaries and expenses appropriation provided FinCEN "$72,502,000, of which $7,500,000 shall be available for BSA Direct." Pub. L. No. 108-447, div. H, title II, 118 Stat. at 3238. FinCEN points out that while it obligated funds in fiscal year 2005 that exceeded $7.5 million, it did not obligate more than $7.5 million from its fiscal year 2005 salaries and expenses appropriation. Rather, it also obligated funds from its fiscal years 2003 and 2004 appropriations, each of which was available through fiscal year 2005. We agree that FinCEN could legally draw on its fiscal years 2003 and 2004 appropriations, to the extent that they had sufficient unobligated balances, for costs related to the BSA Direct project. The $7.5 million provision did not preclude the agency's use of these appropriations. We see nothing in the language of the fiscal year 2005 appropriation or its legislative history to suggest that Congress intended to restrict the availability of these appropriations for the project. The plain language of the $7.5 million provision addressed only the use of the fiscal year 2005 appropriation, affirmatively directing that a portion, $7.5 million, be used for the BSA project. The language makes $7.5 million available only for the BSA Direct project. See B-278121, Nov. 7, 1997. The fiscal years 2003 and 2004 appropriations contained lump sum amounts that were available for the necessary expenses of FinCEN for obligations incurred through September 30, 2005. We therefore conclude that use of the other appropriations to obligate funds in excess of $7.5 million did not violate the Antideficiency Act. We are recommending that FinCEN adjust its accounts in accordance with this decision. If there are not sufficient funds available in the proper appropriations, the agency should report an Antideficiency Act violation. These adjustments will involve obligating an additional $6,982,895.01 to appropriations available in fiscal year 2004 and deobligating that amount from the fiscal year 2005 appropriation. FinCEN should also deobligate amounts from fiscal year 2006 appropriations that were used for Modification Nos. 7 and 9 in fiscal year 2005 and obligate that amount against appropriations available in fiscal year 2005.