National Fine Center

Progress Made but Challenges Remain for Criminal Debt System Gao ID: AIMD-95-76 May 25, 1995

This report reviews the efforts of Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC) to centralize criminal debt accounting and reporting within the National Fine Center. AOUSC was required to replace the existing fragmented approach to receiving criminal fine payments with a centralized, automated criminal-debt-processing system for all 94 judicial districts. The new system was intended to alleviate long-standing weaknesses in accounting for, collecting, and reporting on monetary penalties imposed on federal criminals. GAO (1) provides information on AOUSC's latest efforts to establish the National Fine Center and centralize criminal debt accounting and reporting and (2) discusses additional steps AOUSC needs to take to complete implementation of the National Fine Center.

GAO found that AOUSC has: (1) established a process for centralizing and maintaining federal criminal debt accounts; (2) developed a formal training program for judicial district staff; (3) selected an off-the-shelf accounting system and inexpensive interim software until the selected system becomes operational; (4) begun processing new criminal debt information for 25 small judicial districts; and (5) begun converting criminal debt information from the interim system to the off-the-shelf system. In addition, GAO found that: (1) AOUSC is slightly ahead of schedule in establishing NFC and centralizing federal criminal debt, but much planning and implementation effort remains; (2) many enhancements to the selected accounting system will be required to automate certain manual processes before NFC can begin receiving new criminal debt information from larger judicial districts; (3) AOUSC and the Department of Justice (DOJ) still must ensure the reliability of the existing criminal debt accounting data before entering the information into the NFC system; and (4) although AOUSC plans to further enhance the system to increase user access to NFC information within the next 5 years, it must first identify the specific enhancements required and determine how to accomplish them.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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