Federal Personnel Should Be Better Informed of How Undesignated Contributions to the Combined Federal Campaign Will Be Distributed

GGD-84-84: Published: Jun 27, 1984. Publicly Released: Jul 27, 1984.

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Rosslyn S. Kleeman
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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) administration of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) to determine: (1) the manner in which contributions are distributed among the participating charities, especially those contributions that are not designated to a specific charity; and (2) the methods used to determine which charities will be eligible to participate in CFC.

Federal employees are free to choose to designate or not designate all or part of their contributions to specific charities. In 1982 campaigns, $35.6 million of the $101.2 million pledged by contributors was undesignated to specific charities. The methods used to distribute undesignated contributions have been controversial. However, beginning in 1982, OPM established a procedure whereby local federal officials oversee campaigns and one of the participating groups of charities administers the campaign and acts as fiscal agent. This procedure creates the appearance of, if not an actual, conflict of interest. To deal with this problem, OPM requires that campaign literature include: (1) encouragement to federal personnel to designate their contributions to specific charities; (2) a statement telling contributors that, if they do not designate, their contributions shall be distributed by the charity administering the campaign; and (3) the name of the charity administering the campaign. However, GAO found that OPM does not review campaign literature to ensure that it contains this information.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: OPM stated that its current regulations do not prevent employees from requesting information that GAO recommended be contained in the literature provided. GAO believes all employees solicited during the campaign should have this information readily availible so they can make informed decisions.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should require that campaign literature, in addition to the current requirements, disclose how the undesignated contributions will be distributed among the charities in the current year's campaign or, if this has not been decided before the literature must be printed, how contributions were distributed in the previous year's campaign.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM agreed to review literature after the campaign is over and notify the appropriate officials of errors so that the literature would be corrected before next year's campaign. The regulations and people preparing the literature and regulations change every year, and there is no assurance that last year's problems will be corrected when new literature is prepared.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should selectively review campaign literature before it is printed and distributed to federal personnel to ensure that the literature contains all required information.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management


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