Small Business:

Improper Payments of Former Administrator's Expenses

RCED-91-134: Published: Jul 19, 1991. Publicly Released: Aug 7, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the: (1) accuracy and appropriateness of the Small Business Administration's (SBA) payments for its former Administrator's travel expenses; (2) propriety of SBA payments for continuing legal education courses the former Administrator attended; and (3) number of government-paid trips the former Administrator took to the vicinity of her home.

GAO found that: (1) between April 1989 and December 1990, the former Administrator submitted travel vouchers for 33 trips, for which the government paid for 35 nights' lodging; (2) lodging costs for 24 of those nights exceeded the maximum lodging rates prescribed by the federal travel regulations by a total of $961; (3) the former Administrator had proper authorization and justification for only 2 of those 24 nights; (4) the former Administrator's travel vouchers did not include proper authorizations for all claimed expenses or sufficient information to support miscellaneous and incidental expenses and travel dates and times; (5) the former Administrator attended six continuing legal education courses that SBA paid $700 for without first obtaining Office of Personnel Management (OPM) approval; (6) OPM later concluded that the courses were acceptable, although GAO believes that the training courses did not meet the requirements for providing training to presidential appointees; (7) 23 of the 33 government-paid trips the former Administrator took included stops near her home; and (8) SBA believed that the events were the result of improper advice and not the result of intentional wrongdoing.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SBA notified the former Administrator that she had received excess reimbursements totalling $386 and the Administrator has repaid SBA the entire amount. According to the SBA Comptroller, an explanation of how SBA determined the amount of excess reimbursements will be included in letters being prepared for Congress and GAO.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, SBA, should direct the SBA Comptroller to reexamine all of the former Administrator's travel records and calculate the difference between the amounts SBA paid or reimbursed and the amounts entitled under the federal travel regulations or, where more stringent, SBA travel procedures. The Comptroller's review should include determinations as to: (1) whether travel expenses paid in excess of the federal travel regulations allowance can be properly authorized and justified; (2) the amounts of SBA payments and reimbursements for travel expenses that cannot be authorized and justified; and (3) the extent to which calculating constructive travel changes the amounts entitled for meals and incidental expenses.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SBA notified the former Administrator that she had received excess reimbursements totalling $386 and the Administrator has repaid SBA the entire amount. According to the SBA Comptroller, an explanation of how SBA determined the amount of excess reimbursements will be included in letters being prepared for Congress and GAO.

    Recommendation: SBA should seek reimbursement from the former Administrator for any improper payments the agency made.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

 

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