Better Accounting Needed for Foreign Countries' Deposits for Arms Purchases

AFMD-81-28: Published: Jan 30, 1981. Publicly Released: Feb 6, 1981.

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Concern was expressed about the policy allowing foreign countries to transfer moneys not needed to meet current obligations from their trust fund account to interest-bearing accounts. Specifically, GAO was asked to evaluate this policy and determine whether: (1) established collection procedures are being followed; and (2) safeguards are being established that will keep adequate funds in the United States to insure against loss in the event of arms purchase agreement cancellation.

GAO found that a more accurate Department of Defense (DOD) accounting system is needed to bill, collect, and disburse advance payments from foreign countries which are held in trust fund accounts to meet obligations incurred under military sales agreement. These advance payments, which totaled about $8.5 billion as of September 1980, are collected to protect the United States against loss and, therefore, should be sufficient to cover all costs and damages associated with the sales agreements, including potential contract termination costs. Foreign countries have obtained DOD approval to transfer moneys not needed to meet current obligations from their trust fund accounts with the U.S. Treasury to interest-bearing accounts. As of September 1980, about $3.5 billion of the $8.5 billion in advance deposits has been transferred to the interest-bearing accounts. Certain safeguards are needed to adequately protect U.S. interests: (1) established collection procedures must be enforced; (2) the amount of funds available for transfer into interest-bearing accounts must be accurately determined; and (3) definitive guidelines must be established by DOD for processing foreign countries' requests to invest advance payments in interest-bearing accounts.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should protect the interests of the United States by establishing controls to ensure that funds received for possible contract termination are not used for routine contract payments. These controls would help ensure the availability of needed funds if a foreign customer should abruptly and unilaterally cancel its foreign military sales agreement.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should protect the interests of the United States by developing guidance for administration of interest-bearing accounts to specify what funds are available for such accounts, and the extent to which Defense personnel may be involved in selecting commercial depositories.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should protect the interests of the United States by including provisions in future agreements establishing interest-bearing accounts to ensure that foreign customers are aware that any losses sustained as a result of investments made in commercial accounts are borne by the customer. Foreign customers with existing commercial bank accounts should be advised in writing of the risks they have assumed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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