Reporting of U.S. International Agreements by Executive Agencies Has Improved

ID-78-57: Published: Oct 31, 1978. Publicly Released: Oct 31, 1978.

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The Case/Zablocki Act requires the Secretary of State to report international agreements concluded by all executive agencies to Congress within 60 days after the agreement goes into effect. In response to a 1976 GAO report which identified weaknesses in the reporting system, the Department of State reemphasized the procedures under the act and set forth criteria for deciding what constitutes an international agreement.

Agencies have become more aware of their responsibilities under the act; reporting requirements have been clarified; and controls over the reporting of agreements have been improved. As a consequence, the overall level of reporting to Congress has increased substantially. State's bureaus and offices were in substantial compliance with its internal procedures for handling international agreements, and the Agency for International Development (AID) now considers all signed agreements for submission to State. Other agencies have taken corrective actions to resolve weaknesses and to improve procedures. There is still a problem in timely transmission of agreements to Congress, with AID responsible for a large number of late agreements. State officials exercise considerable discretion in determining how criteria for determining what constitutes an international agreement should be applied, and their determinations of what agreements were significant were generally reasonable. Agreements entered into since enactment of the act with the Republic of Cuba and the People's Republic of China were all reported to Congress. Amendments to the act should encourage better reporting on international agreements.

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