Justice Department:

Litigation and Collection of Civil Fines and Penalties

GGD-88-23FS: Published: Jan 7, 1988. Publicly Released: Feb 10, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Justice's (DOJ) efforts to litigate and collect civil fines and penalties.

GAO found that of the 100 cases it reviewed: (1) 22 did not require any collection action; (2) DOJ declined litigation in 11 of the 78 collection cases, which totalled $29.1 million in government claims, because the defendants either filed for bankruptcy or had no assets to pay the claims; (3) DOJ collected an award or settlement in the remaining 67 cases; and (4) DOJ obtained less than the amount it originally claimed in 27 cases. GAO also found that, in the 67 cases where it obtained an award or settlement, DOJ: (1) collected $17.1 million in full payments in 25 cases; (2) collected $3.6 million in partial payments in 19 cases; (3) either did not collect payments or failed to record the payments in 23 cases; and (4) could not always collect payments because of recordkeeping problems and staff shortages. GAO noted that DOJ has increased its staff and proposed new legislation to enhance its debt litigation and collection efforts.

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