Internal Controls:

Justice's Payroll System Controls Need Strengthening

GGD-89-50: Published: Mar 28, 1989. Publicly Released: Mar 28, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Justice's (DOJ) administration of leave without pay (LWOP), focusing on LWOP exceeding 30 consecutive calendar days.

GAO found that: (1) DOJ had 72 cases of extended LWOP between 1986 and 1988; (2) because of internal control weaknesses in the DOJ payroll system, one employee received over $6,000 in salary while in a nonpay status; (3) in 34 of the 72 cases, DOJ did not prepare the forms necessary to prevent erroneous salary payments; (4) many leave-approving supervisors did not know that they had to provide documentation for extended LWOP because DOJ did not include the information in its leave administration order; (5) 37 of the 103 DOJ timekeepers had received no training in their responsibilities and duties; (6) DOJ cited wide geographic dispersion and high turnover rates as reasons for not establishing compulsory training; (7) DOJ did not detect multiple timekeeping errors as they occurred because a supervisor violated an internal control requiring the separation of key transaction processing duties; and (8) although DOJ provided timekeepers with an instruction manual, the manual was not an adequate substitute for a structured training program.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice will issue a new leave administration order as recommended, and require separation of T&A preparation and certification functions.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Assistant Attorney General for Administration to complete and issue the revised leave administration order containing the LWOP documentation requirement, the new timekeepers' manual, and the change to the existing time and attendance (T&A) order requiring the separation of T&A preparation and certification functions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice has taken steps to improve timekeeper training and reporting, including preparation of a new handbook for timekeepers.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Assistant Attorney General for Administration to establish a requirement that employees assigned T&A preparation responsibilities complete appropriate timekeeper training.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

 

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