DC Courts:

Processing Fiscal Year 1999 Defender Services Vouchers

AIMD-00-129R: Published: Apr 20, 2000. Publicly Released: Apr 20, 2000.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the District of Columbia (DC) Courts' payment processing procedures for defender services.

GAO noted that: (1) GAO identified several weaknesses in DC Courts' payment processing procedures; (2) specifically, GAO found that DC Courts did not: (a) always follow its policies and procedures for processing vouchers for court appointed attorneys; (b) always properly track vouchers submitted for court appointed attorney services; and (c) have written procedures for reprogramming and obligating funds; and (3) while these matters were not significant to GAO's certification, they have the potential, if not resolved, to affect future payment transactions.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to the Courts Chief Accountant, Dana Friend, he has issued a memo to the Fee Examining Unit to strictly follow court procedures in processing court appointed attorney vouchers.

    Recommendation: To improve DC Courts' processing of vouchers, reporting of obligations, and payments for court-appointed attorney services, the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration should direct the Fiscal Officer to adhere to existing procedures in the processing of payment vouchers to court-appointed attorneys, specifically requiring that the: (1) Fee Examining Unit review every voucher submitted for processing; and (2) Fiscal Office only submit vouchers for payment that have been approved by the presiding judges and, when required, the chief judges.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Joint Committee on Judicial Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to the Courts Chief Accountant, Dana Friend, the courts newly implemented voucher tracking system now tracks vouchers from: date of receipt, approval date, and payment through GSA.

    Recommendation: To improve DC Courts' processing of vouchers, reporting of obligations, and payments for court-appointed attorney services, the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration should direct the Fiscal Officer to track individual vouchers submitted by court-appointed attorneys from receipt by the Fiscal Office to the actual payment made by the General Services Administration (GSA) to ensure that all vouchers are promptly accounted for and the resulting obligations are properly recognized and paid. Once the new voucher system is fully implemented, DC Courts should track all vouchers through the entire process beginning with the assignment of vouchers to court-appointed attorneys through payment by GSA.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Joint Committee on Judicial Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to the Courts Budget Officer, John Dyson, written procedures have been established regarding court reprogramming actions.

    Recommendation: To improve DC Courts' processing of vouchers, reporting of obligations, and payments for court-appointed attorney services, the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration should direct the Fiscal Officer to develop written procedures for taking reprogramming actions and, when necessary, promptly notifying the Senate and House Appropriations committees of the specific reprogramming action intended.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Joint Committee on Judicial Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to the courts budget officer, John Dyson, written procedures have been established regarding the charging of obligations to the correct fiscal year appropriation.

    Recommendation: To improve DC Courts' processing of vouchers, reporting of obligations, and payments for court-appointed attorney services, the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration should direct the Fiscal Officer to develop written procedures for promptly and accurately charging obligations to the correct fiscal year's appropriations.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Joint Committee on Judicial Administration

 

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