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Highlights

GAO was asked to study the Treasury Department's accounting procedures for duplicate payments and payments on forged checks.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status
If Congress decides that Treasury should continue its current practice of issuing and paying substitute checks, it should amend 31 U.S.C. 528(a) to permit the procedure.
Closed - Not Implemented
If Congress decides that Treasury should continue its current practice of issuing and paying substitute checks, Congress should authorize Treasury to charge all payments resulting from check forgeries to the Check Forgery Insurance Fund.
Closed - Not Implemented
If Congress decides that Treasury should continue its current practice of issuing and paying substitute checks, it should appropriate funds to absorb the payments.
Closed - Not Implemented
If Congress decides that Treasury should continue its current practice of issuing and paying substitute checks, Congress should provide the appropriations necessary for the fund's operation. The primary options for providing the resources are to: (1) increase the fund's existing appropriation; or (2) authorize a permanent indefinite appropriation for the fund.
Closed - Not Implemented

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of the Treasury 1. The Secretary of the Treasury should strengthen the accounting for and control over the receivables by identifying and aging all receivables on hand.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of the Treasury 2. To take care of forgery cases, the Secretary of the Treasury should charge to the Check Forgery Insurance Fund those payments which the law presently allows. Sufficient appropriations should be sought for that purpose.
Closed - Implemented
Treasury has been reluctant to seek additional appropriations for the Check Forgery Insurance Fund. As an alternative, Treasury is trying to implement a procedure where forgeries would be charged to the agencies that originally authorized the checks' issuance. However, this procedure has not been implemented.
Department of the Treasury 3. For those duplicate payments not involving forgery, the Secretary of the Treasury should charge future cases where payees benefit from duplicate checks to the agencies responsible for them if Congress permits duplicate payments to continue.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of the Treasury 4. The Secretary of the Treasury should strengthen the accounting for and control over receivables by recording all receivables and related transactions in the appropriate accounts with proper supporting documents.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of the Treasury 5. The Secretary of the Treasury should strengthen the accounting for and control over the receivables by establishing procedures for writing off uncollectible amounts.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of the Treasury 6. The Secretary of the Treasury should expedite the collection of accounts receivable by locating and processing the checks necessary to collect the 34,000 pre-March 1979 duplicate payment cases.
Closed - Implemented
Treasury included this work as part of an effort to document all accounts receivable. However, by the time the work was completed, most of the amounts were considered uncollectible. Treasury cited a lack of personnel as the main reason for not acting more quickly.
Department of the Treasury 7. The Secretary of the Treasury should expedite the collection of accounts receivable by shortening the timeframe for acting on forgery cases and standardizing the claim forms used to document them.
Closed - Not Implemented
Treasury is opposed to shortening the time for acting on forgeries because of a fear that payees would not cooperate on forgery cases if given less than 60 days to complete a claim form. Although Treasury made some initial efforts regarding claim form standardization, no further action is anticipated.
Department of the Treasury 8. The Secretary of the Treasury should expedite the collection of accounts receivable by implementing a system to ensure that checks involving all future duplicate payments are identified and processed promptly.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of the Treasury 9. The Secretary of the Treasury should expedite the collection of accounts receivable by initiating a policy of collecting interest on all delinquent debts.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of the Treasury 10. The Secretary of the Treasury should expedite the collection of accounts receivable by requiring regularly scheduled followups on all uncollected receivables.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of the Treasury 11. The Secretary of the Treasury, in cooperation with the affected agencies, should consider various alternatives for reducing the number of future duplicate payments and forgeries.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of the Treasury 12. For those duplicate payments not involving forgery, the Secretary of the Treasury should seek appropriations to cover those receivables on hand which cannot be recovered.
Closed - Not Implemented
Although Treasury initially agreed with the recommendation, there is a general reluctance to seek appropriations to cover the uncollectible amounts.

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