Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO determined whether moneys paid into the Treasury as miscellaneous receipts, pursuant to a consent order between a private firm and the Department of Energy (DOE) settling alleged violations of petroleum price and allocation regulations, should be retrieved and deposited in an escrow account for possible distribution by DOE to overcharged customers of the firm. GAO noted that the DOE enforcement authority requires it to identify overcharge damages before depositing relevant moneys into the Treasury. GAO held that, since the consent order permitted DOE to avoid its statutory responsiblity to identify overcharges and settle such claims, the consent order was improper and DOE exceeded its authority to deposit the moneys into the Treasury. Accordingly, the funds are subject to retrieval and refund to overcharged parties.
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