Judgments and Interest Against the United States

B-198904: Jul 3, 1980

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GAO commented on portions of a forthcoming revision of " Litigation with the Federal Government " dealing with judgments and interest against the United States. GAO is in the process of preparing a "Federal Appropriations Manual" which will include a chapter on judgments against the United States. Based on a recent Supreme Court case, absent the requisite authority, courts may not award interest against the United States based on considerations of equity. It is questionable whether the requirement for Treasury to set interest rates will continue. Thus far, Treasury has not raised the question and has continued to set the rates. GAO recommended legislation to establish an independent requirement in the Contract Disputes Act. Since not all judgments are paid from the permanent appropriation, GAO suggested a clarification that, when a judgment is submitted to GAO for payment, the Claims Group determines the proper appropriation or fund to charge. Since procedures for district court judgments and Court of Claims judgments are different, GAO proposed changing the Court of Claims procedures to develop a uniform payment procedure. However, the Justice Department and the Clerk of the Court of Claims felt that the procedures should not be changed, hence they remain.