American Battle Monuments Commission
T-AIMD-00-211: Published: Jun 6, 2000. Publicly Released: Jun 6, 2000.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the American Battle Monuments Commission's (ABMC) financial statements audits, focusing on: (1) the legislative initiatives that were designed to improve financial management across the federal government; (2) the history of ABMC's financial accountability, focusing specifically on the World War II memorial fund; and (3) the results of GAO's most recent financial audits.
GAO noted that: (1) several legislative initiatives were designed to subject the federal government to the same fiscal discipline imposed for years on the commercial sector and state and local governments and to provide Congress, agency officials, and others with reliable information through audited financial statements; (2) the Veterans' Benefits Improvements Act of 1996, requires ABMC, beginning with fiscal year (FY) 1997, to prepare agencywide financial statements consistent with the requirements for major departments and agencies and requires GAO to audit them; (3) the statutory requirements put ABMC's financial reporting on a par with major federal departments and agencies and help to institutionalize accountability over ABMC's financial operations; (4) ABMC did not undergo an agencywide comprehensive financial audit until FY 1997; (5) ABMC was one of the first federal agencies to comply early with the new federal accounting standards developed to implement the Chief Financial Officers Act; (6) one key area was ABMC's compliance with a new accounting standard requiring the reporting of deferred maintenance cost estimates; (7) ABMC combined the World War II memorial fund with other trust funds in the balance sheet for FY 1997; (8) ABMC began providing a separate breakout for the World War II memorial fund in the balance sheet beginning in FY 1998; (9) the separate breakout, which is provided for all of ABMC's financial statements, allows readers to focus on the World War II memorial fund, which now comprises the majority of ABMC's financing sources and assets; (10) GAO gave another positive report on ABMC's financial statements for FY 1999; (11) GAO did report one condition regarding internal control weaknesses over information technology systems; (12) GAO did not consider these weaknesses to be material to the financial statements, primarily because all of the automated accounting and disbursing systems are not accessible from external sources and are not electronically interconnected between ABMC offices; and (13) the major progress that ABMC's management has made to ensure financial accountability should go a long way in assuring Congress, the public, veterans, donors, and others that contributions to the World War II memorial fund are being properly accounted for and safeguarded.