The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 required each federal agency to issue a regulation adjusting its covered maximum civil monetary penalties for inflation by October 23, 1996, and to make necessary adjustments at least once every 4 years thereafter. During its review, GAO determined that the National Science Foundation (NSF) had adjusted its maximum civil penalties more than the act permits. First, the NSF adjusted the civil penalties by 10 percent, which increased the penalty for an unintentional violation of the statue from $5,000 to $5,500 and increased the penalty for an intentional violation from $10,000 to $11,000. Second, the rule noted that for violations occurring after December 31, 1997, the maximum civil penalty would be $12,000 for unintentional violations and $23,000 for intentional violations. This second adjustment accounted for all of the changes in the Consumer Price Index between June 1978 and June 1995 that had not been accounted for by the initial 10 percent increase. NSF's second adjustment is inconsistent with the act's requirements.
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