Expenditures by the National Park Service for Social Functions

Gao ID: 121992 February 26, 1982

GAO summarized its review of the Department of the Interior's management of trust funds and expenditures from the National Park Service's Cooperating Association Fund. The review resulted from congressional interest as to whether the fund could be used to pay for two social functions held by the Secretary of the Interior in 1981. GAO has acknowledged that trust fund money can be used for some entertainment expenses, but it emphasized that the burden is on the agency to show that the objectives of the trust would be met by such an expenditure. The two 1981 functions were considered to be too general in nature to justify use of the fund to pay expenses, and GAO may have to take formal exception to the unauthorized expenditures in the event personal funds are not made available to restore the balance of the fund. During its review GAO also found that two records, one automated and one manual, are being used by Interior for fund control purposes. However, neither of these records readily shows the accurate fund status when management needs the information, because of delays in posting obligations and expenditures. This has caused the fund's obligations to exceed funds available on several occasions. While the amounts involved were relatively small, the primary purpose of fund control requirements is to bring any irregularities to the attention of appropriate officials and provide them with information on actions taken to correct the conditions which allow an overobligation to occur. GAO believes that problems with the fund may have been avoided had there been Government-wide guidance available on the permissible uses of gift funds.

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