Financial and Management Practices of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission

NSIAD-98-240R: Published: Aug 28, 1998. Publicly Released: Aug 28, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information about the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission's (IATTC) activities during fiscal years (FY) 1995 through 1997, focusing on: (1) IATTC's sources and uses of funds; and (2) the level of financial and managerial oversight over IATTC's activities.

GAO noted that: (1) funds from the United States and other member countries constituted the largest source of financing for IATTC; (2) other sources of funds during FY 1995 through FY 1997 included fees assessed on tuna vessel owners and income from sales of publications, rents, and interest on its bank funds; (3) individual tuna vessel owners pay a fee to support an IATTC observer program; (4) the IATTC observers, among other duties, provide vessel owners with a certification of participation in the program, which enables them to sell tuna in the United States; (5) IATTC documents show that about 53 percent of IATTC's funding was allocated to salaries and benefits and the remaining funds to tuna field research and general operations and maintenance; (6) IATTC's internal financial regulations provide for a significant amount of flexibility in managing its financial resources; (7) for specified reasons, IATTC can carry over funds from year to year; (8) IATTC's funding formula calls for member countries to give funds based on the amount of tuna consumed by member countries as compared to total U.S. consumption; (9) that is, all other countries' assessed funds are pegged to the U.S.' funding; (10) this formula, in practice, does not, however, govern actual funding; (11) members are often not billed for their formula funding and sometimes do not make their full payments; (12) during FY 1995 through FY 1997, the United States provided about 87 percent of member funding; (13) oversight of IATTC's financial operations is substantial; (14) IATTC has established formal approval processes for its activities and programs; (15) any IATTC decision or activity requires the unanimous approval of all members; (16) in addition, IATTC has adopted financial regulations that require an annual external audit of its finance and accounting practices; (17) these audits were conducted for FY 1995 through FY 1997; and (18) with regard to managerial, or program, oversight, the member countries' commissioners meet annually to review IATTC's programs and approve the proposed budget.

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