Legal Services Corporation Grantees' Involvement Concerning the Tazwell County, Virginia, Workfare Project

HRD-82-34: Published: Jan 28, 1982. Publicly Released: Mar 1, 1982.

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GAO was asked to review the activities of two large organizations funded by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to determine whether federal funds were used to interfere with or to impede the implementation of provisions of the Food Stamp Act.

GAO found that the activities of the legal services organizations did not violate the provisions of the act. The LSC-funded social science research activities caused some disruption to one work project, but these activities did not appear to be the type which Congress intended to prohibit. Legislative history recognizes that federally funded organizations have a legitimate right to: (1) monitor the project, (2) represent participants as clients, (3) advise participants of their legal rights under the program, or (4) seek to involve participants in any decisionmaking activities the LSC organization carries on in regard to the workfare project. Moreover, it appears that the recipient organizations did not consciously intend to disrupt the project. Applicable legislation prohibits lobbying activities affecting local legislative bodies. Officials of LSC recipient organizations admitted that they spoke negatively at times concerning the local workfare project. However, their intent was to learn as much about workfare as possible to effectively represent clients in other jurisdictions which might implement future workfare projects. An LSC investigation of a meeting of LSC recipient organizations found that no employees of these organizations made statements to the effect that meeting participants would persuade their local governing bodies to disapprove workfare projects. Other than salaries and travel expenses of LSC-funded personnel, the only Federal funds used were to defray the cost of conducting the meeting.

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