DC Courts:

Fiscal Year 2001 Budget Request and Financial Information

AIMD-00-172R: Published: Jul 31, 2000. Publicly Released: Jul 31, 2000.

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Jeanette M. Franzel
(202) 512-3000


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the District of Columbia Courts' (DC Courts) fiscal year (FY) 2001 budget request and related issues, focusing on: (1) whether DC Courts' FY 2001 budget was reasonable; (2) what were DC Courts' obligations and payments for FY 1999 operations, including totals charged for the Criminal Justice Act, Counsel for Child Abuse and Neglect, and the Guardianship programs; and (3) what are the DC Courts' obligations and payments related to its court operations and defender services to date for FY 2000.

GAO noted that: (1) GAO could not conclude on the reasonableness of DC Courts' FY 2001 budget request that was originally submitted to the Office of Management Budget (OMB); (2) DC Courts did not submit the detailed information required by OMB Circular A-11 along with its FY 2001 budget request to OMB, but subsequently provided in April 2000 a more detailed budget justification to OMB and Congress; (3) even though DC Courts subsequently provided the documentation that was needed to support the proposed increases, GAO could not determine the reasonableness of all budget increases; (4) DC Courts officials stated that the required detailed information would be submitted along with future budget requests to OMB; (5) DC Courts also did not have adequate documentation to support the funds projected for the defender services for FY 2001; (6) DC Courts' records indicated that more than $132 million was obligated and spent for FY 1999; (7) the amount included more than $36.4 million of payments to court-appointed attorneys for defender services, $6.2 million of which was for unpaid obligations that were properly carried over for fiscal years 1996, 1997, and 1998; (8) DC Courts' records indicated that more than $62 million was obligated for the first 6 months of FY 2000; (9) according to DC Courts' FY 2000 spending plan, the obligations for the fiscal year are projected to be $137 million and within the budgetary resources that were made available for FY 2000; (10) the projected obligations include more than $4.9 million of carried forward defender service obligations from FY 1999; (11) while DC Courts' spending plan projected sufficient funds for defender services, questions have arisen as to whether the spending plan accurately reflects amounts it anticipates for defender services; (12) in April 2000, DC Courts officials estimated that an additional $6 million is needed to pay defender services for FY 2000, and they have reserved FY 2000 operating funds for that purpose; (13) DC Courts did not provide sufficient documentation to support the projected additional defender service obligations or exactly how it expected to reduce current operating costs to establish the reserve; and (14) since the passage of the District of Columbia's Fiscal Year 2000 Appropriation Act, DC Courts' records indicate that it has properly stopped using Crime Victim Funds for administrative costs.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On November 30, 2000, Fiscal Officer, DC Courts provided GAO with their new FY02 Budget preparation procedures, which call for improved support for budget submissions. Separately, on September 29, 2000, the DC Courts established the Crime Victims Compensation Fund, District of Columbia, at the U.S. Treasury (account information was obtained from DC Courts Budget Officer, DC Courts on July 26, 2001).

    Recommendation: The DC Courts, Fiscal Officer should: (1) document its budget submission preparation procedures to ensure that future OMB budget submissions are adequately supported and comply with OMB Circular A-11; and (2) follow up with OMB and the Department of Treasury on the establishment of a separate Crime Victims Fund account within the U.S. Treasury before the end of the fiscal year.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: District of Columbia Courts


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