Use of Appropriated Funds To Buy Robes for Administrative Law Judges

B-199492: Sep 18, 1980

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The Director, Office of Financial Management, Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission asked if appropriated funds may be used to buy robes for Administrative Law Judges (ALJ's) to wear in the performance of their duties. Laws, regulations, and decisions establish two conditions that must be satisfied before uniforms may be furnished or uniform allowances paid. First, there must be an appropriation which is specifically made available for uniforms or uniform allowances. Second, unless there is a statutory requirement, the agency or department head must make a determination that employees are required to wear a uniform. A provision of the current Commission appropriation satisfies the first condition in stating that "Appropriations contained in this Act, available for salaries and expenses shall be available for uniforms or allowances therefor as authorized by law." As long as this provision is included in annual appropriation acts for the Commission, its funds may be expended for uniforms or uniform allowances. The request did not state whether the head of the Commission has determined that its ALJ's are required to wear robes. If the head of the Commission has determined or does determine that it is required that the Commission's ALJ's wear robes, then its funds may be expended for this purpose.