DC Courts:

Review of Fiscal Year 1999 Defender Services Obligations

AIMD/OGC-00-68R: Published: Jan 27, 2000. Publicly Released: Jan 27, 2000.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed: (1) the total amount of the District of Columbia (DC) Court's reported fiscal year (FY) 1999 obligations for the Criminal Justice Act (CJA), Counsel on Child Abuse and Neglect (CCAN), and Guardianship programs; (2) whether the reported FY 1999 obligations appear to have been lawfully incurred; and (3) whether the reported obligations exceeded DC Court's obligational authority available to pay such amounts.

GAO noted that: (1) under the CJA, CCAN, and Guardianship programs, DC Courts appoints and compensates attorneys to represent persons who are financially unable to obtain such representation on their own; (2) to be paid for their services, attorneys and other service providers must submit vouchers to DC Courts detailing time and expenses involved in working on a case; (3) following an administrative review and approval by the presiding judge or hearing commissioner, the voucher is forwarded to the DC Courts, which prepares a list of payments to be made; (4) the list is electronically submitted to the General Services Administration for payment from DC Courts appropriated funds; (5) during FY 1999, DC Courts records indicated that it had approximately $41 million of attorney vouchers (billing) to pay, while the total funds it reported as available for FY 1999 to pay these vouchers was about $36 million; and (6) as of January 7, 2000, DC Courts had used approximately $3.5 million in FY 2000 funds to pay outstanding attorney vouchers under authority provided by a continuing resolution and awaits authorization to pay the remaining $1.47 million under the District's FY 2000 Appropriations Act.

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