U.S. Mint Numismatic Coin Programs:

Allegation of Additional Losses on the Olympic Commemorative Coin Program

T-AIMD-97-124: Published: Jun 26, 1997. Publicly Released: Jun 26, 1997.

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GAO discussed its preliminary findings regarding an allegation about the U.S. Mint's Atlanta Olympic Commemorative Coin Program (Olympic Coin Program). The allegation claims that the Olympic Coin Program has lost approximately $24.7 million, while the Mint has previously reported losses of only about $2 million. GAO has not yet completed its work and, accordingly, cautions that its results are only preliminary.

GAO noted that: (1) the Mint has two lines of manufacturing business; (2) it manufactures circulating coins, which reportedly constituted 78 percent of its fiscal year (FY) 1996 revenues; (3) the remaining 22 percent consisted of the manufacture of numismatic products for collectors including medals, proof coins, uncirculated coins, gold and silver bullion coins, and several commemorative coin programs, including the Olympic Coin program; (4) the Olympic Coin Program is one of the largest and most complex commemorative coin programs ever managed by the Mint; (5) the Mint was authorized to design a total of 32 Olympic Program coins and manufacture not more than approximately 18 million coins, which later was reduced to not more than 13.3 million coins; (6) according to Mint records, it has produced 4.1 million Olympic coins, of which 1.8 million remain unsold; (7) the Olympic Coin Act provides that no coins shall be minted after December 31, 1996, but there is no date by which sales shall end; (8) the quarterly report by the Mint provided to the subcommittee through March 1997 shows cumulative losses in the Olympic Coin Program of approximately $2.8 million; (9) an anonymous letter dated in March 1997 and addressed to the Treasurer of the United States stated that losses in the Olympic Coin Program were approximately $24.7 million; (10) according to the Mint's Chief Financial Officer, the Olympic Coin program could lose at least another $3.6 million if the Mint does not sell all of its remaining Olympic Program coins for a total potential loss of $6.4 million; (11) GAO is currently reviewing the remaining difference between the allegation and Mint records of 18.3 million; (12) at this point, more than one-half of the remaining difference appears to relate to packaging material, which according to the allegation was purchased specifically for the Olympic Coin Program; (13) however, Mint officials contend that most of this packaging pertains either to other numismatic programs or can be used by other commemorative coin programs; (14) other remaining differences appear to relate to coin quantities and valuations, surcharges and shipping costs, and related general and administrative costs; (15) recent legislation, coupled with new accounting principles for the federal agreement, provide a framework for improving the Mints financial management; and (16) if implemented properly, these requirements would provide more specific information regarding the results of individual coin programs.

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