GAO was asked for advice concerning the Congressional Award Board's legislative mandate and affirmative responsibilities in several areas: (1) whether there was authorization for independent state or regional boards to conduct the program; (2) whether there was a minimum age level for those entering the program; (3) whether the Board's intention for a three-section program as opposed to a four-section program was sufficiently clear; and (4) how closely GAO would advise the Board to adhere to the general expectations of the program. Additionally, the Board's responsibilities as to the rate of expansion of program operations were questioned. GAO stated that, since Congress established a number of safeguards with respect to fund-raising and auditing that apply to the Board and would not apply to independent state organizations, the independent state programs would not be authorized to conduct the program. GAO determined that the legislative history of the program indicated that the age range for the program was intended to be 14 through 23 years. However, the exception authority given to the Board is very broad, and the Board could use this authority to expand the age range. GAO found that the program described was not a four-section program, but it found no legal problem with adopting a fourth section. GAO advised that the Board members were expected to carry out the program as best they could within the authority provided to them, and expansion of the program was a matter for determination by the Board.
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