Federal agencies use civil monetary penalties to punish willful violators and deter future violations. However, if these fines aren't regularly adjusted for inflation, they may lose their effectiveness as a deterrent. Congress enacted the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 partly to address this issue.
In 2015, Congress amended this act to require GAO to annually review agencies' compliance with certain provisions of the act.
In this year's review, we found that most of the 48 agencies that could be subject to the act complied with its publication and reporting requirements for the 2019 inflation adjustment.
What GAO Found
In this fourth annual review, GAO found that most federal agencies that could be subject to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended (IAA), have complied with the provisions of the act to publish annual civil monetary penalty inflation adjustments in the Federal Register and report related information in their 2019 agency financial reports (AFR), or equivalent. However, three agencies did not publish inflation adjustments in the Federal Register and did not report in their 2019 AFRs the required information for one or all of their civil monetary penalties.
Why GAO Did This Study
The IAA includes a provision, added in 2015, requiring GAO to annually submit to Congress a report assessing agencies' compliance with the annual inflation adjustments required by the act. This is the fourth annual report responding to this requirement.
For more information, contact Paula M. Rascona at (202) 512-9816 or