[Comments on MMS Settlement Agreements]

B-276561: Published: Sep 30, 1997. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO commented on the Minerals Management Service (MMS) settlement agreements concerning disputes over royalties owed under federal leases for offshore drilling, focusing on whether the settlement agreements complied with the requirement under 31 U.S.C. 3711 for Department of Justice approval of agency compromise of claims of the government exceeding $100,000. GAO noted that: (1) although the Department of the Interior currently has specific statutory authority to compromise oil and gas claims, at the time of the matters at issue, Interior did not have agency-specific or program-specific compromise authority; and (2) to the extent that the 1993 MMS settlement agreement with Exxon Company U.S.A. compromised royalty claims exceeding $100,000, that agreement should have been referred to the Department of Justice for the approval required by the Debt Collection Act. $100,000.

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