The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (Bankruptcy Reform Act) made significant changes to the administration of bankruptcy relief, affecting (1) the U.S. Trustee Program (Trustee Program), which oversees the bankruptcy process; (2) the federal judiciary, which includes bankruptcy courts and a central administrative support office; (3) consumers filing for bankruptcy; and (4) private trustees--individuals who administer bankruptcy cases and are supervised by the Trustee Program but are not government employees. The number of new personal bankruptcy filings declined after the act--about 600,000 people filed in 2006 as compared to an average of 1.5 million annually between 2001 and 2004. GAO was asked to examine (1) new costs incurred as a result of the Bankruptcy Reform Act by the Trustee Program and federal judiciary, (2) new costs to consumers, and (3) the impact of the act on private trustees. GAO reviewed budget information from the Trustee Program and federal judiciary, and collected data on attorney fees from a random and projectable sample of personal bankruptcy cases. GAO also obtained documentation and interviewed staff from these entities, as well as from organizations representing consumers, bankruptcy attorneys, creditors, and private trustees.
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