DOD Use of Official Representation Funds To Entertain Foreign Dignitaries

ID-83-7: Published: Dec 29, 1982. Publicly Released: Jan 10, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed expense accounting by the Department of Defense (DOD) under a program which pays certain expenses of foreign officials who visit the United States.

GAO noted that the purpose of the distinguished visitors' program is to strengthen ties with military allies and that participants often discuss the purchase of military weapons. GAO found that the Official Representation Account understates the total cost of the program because other costs are not separately identified. Although the Secretary of Defense has wide discretion under law regarding these funds, GAO found that some expenses charged to the account were inconsistent with DOD guidance. Specifically, GAO found that: (1) expenses were incorrectly documented; (2) proper ratios of DOD to non-DOD guests were not maintained; and (3) expense limitations were exceeded. GAO learned that it was not clear how expenses not specifically addressed in the guidance should be charged or how much time can be spent on social activities peripherally related to official business.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should clarify: (1) if Official Representation funds should be used for expenses resulting from conferences between U.S. and foreign officials; (2) which expenses should be charged to other appropriations; and (3) if funds from the Official Representation account should be used to entertain foreign guests on weekends prior to or following the visitors' official business. The Secretary should direct the military departments to: (1) follow current guidance more closely or, where the guidance is inadequate, change the appropriate sections accordingly; and (2) coordinate and share mutually beneficial information about the administration of their programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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