Department of Labor:

Obligations by Object Class

AIMD/HEHS-98-216R: Published: Jul 10, 1998. Publicly Released: Jul 10, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) the composition of the Department of Labor's obligations by object class; and (2) Labor's discretionary grants for fiscal year (FY) 1997.

GAO noted that: (1) in FY 1997, about 30 percent of Labor's reported obligations were for grants, subsidies, and contributions, and about 60 percent were for the payment of insurance claims and indemnities; (2) object class data can be easily misunderstood and, because object classes group obligations according to the articles procured rather than the services provided, any conclusion about end results can be misleading; (3) for example, reported equipment obligations (object class 31) do not necessarily represent total equipment purchases within a budget account; an agency could obtain similar items as contractor-furnished equipment under an existing contract and properly record the obligation against consulting and other services (object class 25); (4) similarly, obligations against object class 25 may not capture the full extent of expert consultant services within an account; (5) agencies could also obtain an expert consultant through a term appointment, with the obligation properly recorded as personnel compensation (object class 11), or through a grant, if the grantee hires the consultant (object class 41); and (6) a second difficulty in doing object class analysis is that there is no distinction made between administrative expenses and program-related expenses that are allocated to the same object class.

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