Bid Protests, Appropriations Law, & Other Legal Work
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).
These functions were transferred (by law or by delegation from OMB) to other agencies, as follows:
- What: settlement of (1) claims for uniformed service members’ pay, allowances, travel, transportation, and survivor benefits; and (2) carriers’ claims for amounts set off from their charges for loss and damage.
- Transferred to: Department of Defense, Office of Hearings and Appeals.
- For more information: Call 703-696-1876. Leave a voice-mail message with your e-mail address.
- What: settlement of federal civilian employees’ claims for compensation and leave.
- Transferred to: Office of Personnel Management.
- For more information: Call 202-606-7948 or fax 202-606-2663.
- What: settlement of (1) claims for federal civilian employees' travel, transportation, and relocation allowances; and (2) transportation carriers' requests for review of General Services Administration (GSA) audits of carriers’ bills.
- Transferred to: Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (formerly GSA Board of Contract Appeals).
- For more information: Visit the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals Web site.
- What: authority to prescribe standards and waive claims against government employees and members of the uniformed services and National Guard arising out of erroneous payments of pay and allowances, as well as travel, transportation, and relocation benefits.
- Transferred to: authorized officials (agency heads, for legislative branch employees; or the Director of OMB, for other federal employees and members of the uniformed services or the National Guard). Pub. L. No. 104-316, §§ 103(d), 105(b), 116, 110 Stat. 3826 (1996). OMB delegated this authority to the agency that made the particular erroneous payment.
- What: authority to prescribe (with the Department of Justice) standards for, and supervise the collection of, delinquent debts owed to the United States.
- Transferred to: Secretary of the Treasury.
- What: certifying the payment of (and setoff against) judicial and administrative awards from the permanent, indefinite appropriation established by 31 U.S.C. § 1304.
- Transferred to: Department of the Treasury’s Judgment Fund Group.
- For more information: Visit the Judgment Fund Group Web site.
- What: authority under 31 U.S.C. § 3529 to issue advance decisions settling claims.
- Transferred to: The same agency that received the claims settlement function.
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.
OGC-95-23: Jan 1, 1995