U.S. Department of Justice

Overview of Civil and Criminal Debt Collection Efforts Gao ID: T-GGD-90-62 July 31, 1990

GAO discussed the Department of Justice's efforts to collect debt owed to the U.S. government, focusing on: (1) the amount and characteristics of the debt; (2) the amount of debt that Justice has collected; and (3) whether Justice has adequate systems and plans to efficiently collect the debt. GAO noted that: (1) at the end of fiscal year (FY) 1989, non-tax debts owed to the federal government exceeded $244 billion, and 12 percent were delinquent for more than 1 year; (2) Justice handles non-tax debt after a federal department or agency has exhausted all reasonable efforts to persuade debtors to pay; (3) as of September 1989, civil debt referrals totalled $6.6 billion, and attorney-collected criminal debts totalled $968 million; (4) 94 U.S. attorneys' offices and the department's Civil Division share the responsibility of litigating and collecting civil debt; (5) during FY 1989, such offices collected $562 million of civil debt; (6) during FY 1989, U.S. attorneys' offices collected $82 million in outstanding criminal debt; (7) Justice lacked a system for tracking agencies' civil debt referrals; (8) Justice experienced problems in collecting litigated debt, but planned to implement a strategy to more systematically manage its civil debt collection efforts; and (9) even though Justice plans to implement such a strategy, it still lacks a written implementation plan.

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