Legal Availability of Funds: Expenses of Election Officer Supervision of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters 1996 Election Rerun

T-OGC-98-52: May 19, 1998

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GAO discussed the Comptroller General's April 28, 1998, opinion concerning the availability of appropriated funds to pay the costs of supervising a rerun of the 1996 International Brotherhood of Teamsters election.

GAO found that: (1) the transfer and reprogramming provisions contained in the 1997 Justice Appropriations Act do not authorize the Department of Justice to transfer or reprogram funds in fiscal year (FY) 1998 to cover the expenses of a 1996 election rerun; (2) with respect to the 1998 Justice and Labor Appropriations Acts, Congress included specific restrictions on the use of funds made available in those acts to pay the Election Officer's expenses of supervising the election rerun in FY 1998; (3) because of the restrictions contained in the 1998 Labor and Justice Appropriations Acts, Justice and the Department of Labor could not use any funds transferred or reprogrammed from other funds made available in those acts to pay the Election Officer's expenses of supervising the election rerun; (4) the language of the transfer authority provided in the 1998 Justice and Labor Appropriations Acts only authorizes transfers of funds made available in those acts for the current fiscal year, not the transfer of funds appropriated in different fiscal years; (5) with respect to the Judgment Fund, the Appeals Court's reversal of the District Court's order does not satisfy the statutory criteria governing payments from the Judgment Fund; (6) GAO views the costs of supervising a rerun of the 1996 election as programmatic costs that but for the specific restrictions in the 1998 Justice and Labor Appropriations Acts, Justice and Labor could pay from available operating accounts; and (7) in GAO's opinion, the fact that Congress has chosen to bar the use of funds made available in those Acts should not be viewed as an invitation to convert the Judgment Fund from an appropriation to pay damage awards to a program account to circumvent congressional restrictions on the appropriations that would otherwise be available to cover these expenses.