Internal Controls

State Department Needs to Improve Management of Travel Advances Gao ID: NSIAD-88-178 August 15, 1988

In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of State's efforts to resolve problems in its management of travel advance funds, specifically: (1) current delinquent travel advances and those written off as uncollectible; (2) State's compliance with applicable laws and regulations in managing the funds; (3) the adequacy of State's internal controls over the disbursement of advances and collection of unused balances; and (4) State's implementation of a congressional recommendation concerning travel advance management.

GAO found that: (1) State's overdue or delinquent travel advances increased from about $10 million in 1985 to about $15.4 million in 1987; (2) the number of overdue or delinquent accounts increased from 8,100 in 1985 to 19,800 in 1987; (3) State collected only a small portion of overdue travel advances through payroll deductions and was reluctant to issue dunning notices because of inaccurate data, backlogs in voucher processing, and staff shortages; and (4) State provided documentation for only 6 percent of the travel advances it wrote off in fiscal years (FY) 1986 and 1987, respectively. GAO also found that State: (1) lacked adequate internal controls to monitor travel advances issued worldwide; (2) used irregular techniques, such as transferring account balances to accounts with fictitious names and social security numbers, rather than writing them off or adjusting them; (3) did not assess interest, penalties, or handling charges on delinquent accounts because its accounting system was unable to compute interest and travellers could have incurred expenses against their advances; and (4) failed to review and reconcile individual accounts and records of outstanding advances to ensure prompt recovery.


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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