Review of Unvouchered Expenditures at the Department of State

AFMD-82-57: Published: Mar 23, 1982. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 1982.

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GAO was asked to review the unvouchered expenditures from the Department of State's emergencies in the diplomatic and consular service account. GAO made the review to determine whether expenditures made from the account were authorized by law.

The Secretary of State is authorized to expend funds for unforeseen emergencies arising in the diplomatic or consular services. In the opinion of the Secretary of State, the emergencies account is available for expenditures which: (1) serve to further the foreign policy objectives of the United States; (2) are a matter of urgency to implement; (3) are accounted for by certification if they require confidentiality; and (4) are not otherwise prohibited by law. GAO examination of unvouchered accounts in the executive branch is restricted to congressional reporting on unvouchered accounts to unresolved discrepancies. GAO identified a number of expenditures for entertainment, representation, travel, and gifts that did not reasonably fall within the meaning of unforeseen emergencies contemplated by the authorizing statutes. These expenditures represented 3 percent of the account. The Secretary of State provided information which enabled GAO to resolve some of the questionable expenditures, but the majority of them were not resolved. These were justified solely on the basis that they served to further the foreign policy objectives of the United States, but they could not be justified as matters of urgency or as requiring confidentiality. GAO also questioned how expenditures for gifts in support of Presidential, Vice-Presidential, and Secretary of State travel met the statutory provisions. The practice of giving gifts of nominal value for which an inventory is maintained could be budgeted for in advance.

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