[Question on Payment of Attorney Fees]

B-40342.3: Mar 19, 1984

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GAO rendered a decision regarding the propriety of using the permanent indefinite appropriation for judgments to pay attorney fees and other legal costs awarded against the United States. There are two types of statutes governing judgments against the United States. Under the first type, final awards are paid upon certification by GAO, unless payment has been otherwise provided for. Under the second type, the United States and Federal agencies are not specifically mentioned, and it is widely accepted that this type of statute does not authorize fee awards against the United States. The Equal Access to Justice Act specifically authorizes awards against the United States under the second type of statute. GAO held that, in most cases, judgments can legally be paid from the permanent indefinite appropriation. However, in cases in which a Federal agency acted in bad faith, judgments must be paid from agency funds.