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Functions Transferred to the Executive Branch


Settlement of claims and debts against the United States, waiving debts, and other issues about collecting money owed to the United States are now the responsibility of the Executive Branch.

In 1995 and 1996, Congress enacted two laws that transferred several functions from GAO to other government agencies. See Pub. L. No. 104-53, 109 Stat. 514, 535 (1995), and Pub. L. No. 104-316, 110 Stat. 3826, 3845-46 (1996).

These functions include settlement of all claims of and against the United States, such as

  • military personnel pay and allowances
  • civilian personnel pay and allowances
  • household goods and freight loss and damage, and transportation rates
  • supervising (with the Department of Justice) the collection of debts owed to the United States
  • waiving certain debts owed to the United States
  • certifying payment of awards and setoffs from the Judgment Fund
  • issuing advance decisions on these and other subjects

Before the functions were transferred, GAO created reference manuals for several of the functions. Since the functions are no longer GAO’s responsibility, GAO no longer updates those manuals, which are available here:

(1) Civilian and Military Personnel Law Manuals
(2) Principles of Federal Appropriations Law, 2nd ed., vol. III, regarding

  • claims against the United States (chapter 12),
  • debt collection by the United States (chapter 13), and
  • payment of judgments against the United States (chapter 14).
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Transferred Functions

These functions were transferred (by law or by delegation from OMB) to other agencies, as follows:

Functions Retained by GAO

Settling Accounts and Related Authorities

Although the authority to issue advance decisions settling claims under 31 U.S.C. § 3529 was transferred, as described above, the Comptroller General retains the authority under 31 U.S.C. §§ 3526-3529 to issue advance and other decisions to accountable officials and agency heads settling accounts, determining liability, granting relief from liability, and ruling on the availability of appropriated funds, etc. B-303906, Dec. 7, 2004; B-278805, July 21, 1999; Letter from Acting Comptroller General, GAO, to Heads of Departments, Agencies and Others Concerned, B-275605, Mar. 17, 1997.

For more information on the transfer of functions, see GAO, Principles of Federal Appropriations Law, 3rd Ed. (2008), at 14-8 to 14-10.