Leadership and Coordination of Nondiscrimination Laws]

Gao ID: B-201695 October 21, 1981

GAO was asked for its opinion concerning whether GAO falls within the title 5 of the United States Code definition of executive agency and, if so, whether it is covered under the Rehabilitation Act and is therefore subject to the provisions of Executive Order 12250. Under Executive Order 12250, the Attorney General is assigned responsibility for coordinating the implementation and enforcement by executive agencies of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Education Amendments of 1972, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and any other provision of Federal statutory law which prohibits discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. In response, GAO stated that it does not believe that the title 5 definition of executive agency should be applied in these circumstances. While for some limited purposes GAO is included within the definition of executive agency, for most purposes it is considered as an independent agency within the legislative branch. As a further indication of its status, it receives its operating funds in the annual legislative branch appropriations acts. Also, to guarantee its independence, Congress has separated the GAO personnel system from that of the executive branch, thus ensuring that GAO employees would continue to have rights and benefits enjoyed by employees in other Government agencies. The GAO Personnel Act: (1) established a GAO Personnel Appeals Board to perform functions of the Office of Personnel Management, the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Federal Labor Relations Authority, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; (2) established a General Counsel to the GAO Personnel Appeals Board to investigate labor-management and employment discrimination cases; (3) incorporated the substantive requirements of the equal employment opportunity laws applicable to executive agencies; (4) preserved any right or remedy which may have been granted to GAO employees by those antidiscrimination laws; and (5) vested authority for their implementation and enforcement in the GAO Personnel Appeals Board and in the Comptroller General. Therefore, GAO believes that the Department of Justice is without jurisdiction in these matters, insofar as GAO is concerned, and GAO is exempt from the requirements of Executive Order 12250.

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