Surface Mining:

Complete Reconciliation of the Abandoned Mine Land Fund Needed

RCED-89-35: Published: Oct 28, 1988. Publicly Released: Nov 29, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement's (OSMRE) 1988 reconciliation of the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund, commonly known as the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Fund.

GAO found that OSMRE: (1) established the AML Grants Tracking System in 1986 to record federal and state share contributions toward AML Fund grants; (2) did not perform a complete reconciliation of the AML Fund, since it did not correct past tracking system errors in determining state share balances; (3) did not correct key data errors in its formulas for calculating state grant allocations; (4) limited its fund reconciliation to agreement with its official accounting records' overall fund balance, collections, and grant data; and (5) could not accurately use its tracking system to determine federal and state share percentages of grant charges. GAO also found that OSMRE did not have adequate internal controls over its grant allocation process, since it: (1) could not substantiate the federal share of the state reclamation program grants listed in its tracking system; and (2) lacked policies and procedures for recreating and verifying its past allocation decisions. GAO believes that the incorrect state share balances will affect not only the current-year grant allocations, but also future-year allocations.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OSMRE has completed action on the first and third recommendations. Action was completed on the second recommendation in August 1989.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director, OSMRE, to: (1) modify the accounting system to identify expenditures charged against the state and federal share balances of the AML Fund and specify in the grant agreement the source of the grant funds; (2) reconcile the AML Fund balances using historical allocation formulas and corrected input data to assure their accuracy for use in making future grant allocations; and (3) develop written AML Fund allocation policies and procedures, clearly document all actions affecting state allocations, and independently verify the allocation of grant funds to the states.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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