Department of the Navy--Lunch for Volunteer Focus Group
B-318499: Nov 19, 2009
A certifying officer with the United States Navy Fleet Activities at Okinawa, Japan, requests a decision regarding the provision of lunch at a Navy Inspector General focus group. Letter from Supervisory Financial Management Analyst, Commander, Fleet Activities Okinawa, Japan, to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), July 1, 2009, at 1 (July Letter). Specifically, the certifying officer asks whether his command could have used appropriated funds to provide lunch to volunteer command ombudsmen at a Navy Inspector General (IG) focus group. July Letter, at 1. Consideration of whether to provide food as an incentive for focus group participation must be addressed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all the factual circumstances and the particular statutory objective the agency is trying to achieve. Here the focus group was conducted under the IG's authority, and the command did not identify a specific statutory objective. Accordingly, under the facts presented by the command, we cannot conclude that such a use of appropriated funds would be proper.