Results of Survey of Accounting Controls at Embassies and Consulates in Europe

FGMSD-79-50: Published: Oct 10, 1979. Publicly Released: Oct 10, 1979.

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The Budget and Accounting Procedures Act of 1950 requires the head of each executive agency to establish and maintain a system of accounting and internal control over, and accountability for, all of the agency's assets. A survey was conducted of the internal controls at accounting stations at seven embassies and two consulates in Europe.

The survey disclosed many internal control weaknesses, including the following: (1) Collections were inadequately controlled at many accounting stations; employee duties were insufficiently separated, prenumbered receipts were not controlled, and collections were not always deposited promptly. (2) Accounts receivable were not collected promptly; the receivables were for outstanding travel advances, unused transportation tickets, medical insurance reimbursements, and amounts due for employees' personal telephone calls. (3) Imprest funds at most accounting stations were not properly handled and safeguarded, were disbursed in excess of limitations, exceeded authorized balances,were not counted on an unannounced basis, and the adequacy of fund replenishment was not periodically reviewed. (4) Obligations were not properly recorded at most accounting stations and many were recorded after the obligations were incurred. (5) Use of foreign airlines and purchase of airline tickets were not controlled to comply with all legal requirements. (6) Discounts lost or taken were not recorded as required by the GAO Policy and Procedures Manual for Guidance of Federal Agencies. (7) Blank checks were not properly safeguarded. In addition, it was observed during the application of the questionnaire used for the survey that local procurements were not adequately controlled. The problems were inadequate competition, insufficient separation of employee duties, and improper verification of goods and services received.

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