Oversight Report Reveals $83 Billion Collected Through Agency Fines and Penalties

Published: Nov 30, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a Majority staff report titled, Restoring the Power of the Purse: Shining Light on Federal Agencies Billion Dollar Fines Collections. The report surveyed 34 agencies and found they collected over $83 billion in fines and penalties between 2010 and 2015, which were used to fund operations and unappropriated programs.

Key Findings:

  • Treasury: Treasury failed to provide a complete response to the Committee. However based on an incomplete response, which did not include the fines and penalties collected by the IRS, Treasury collected through the Office of the Comptroller of Currency and the Office of Foreign Assets Control at least $2.83 billion. Given Treasury’s mission and operation of the General Fund, where under law all agencies collections go unless specifically directed elsewhere, their lack of transparency and failure to response is problematic.
  • Lack of Standardized Accounting System: Agencies do not use a standardized method of accounting for those funds collected and retained. Not including Treasury, the average response time was 50 days. Based on the varying agency responses, the S. government’s accounting system to monitor and track the funds collected appears inadequate.

Here’s a look at the government’s biggest collectors:

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Solutions:

  • Legislation to improve transparency of funds collected and spent. Agencies do not track collections in a uniform manner. Congress should evaluate ways to standardize the type of information required to be recorded across the government and centralize accounting efforts within each agency.
  • Agencies can improve their oversight over retained funds. Agencies were generally unable to provide much detail regarding the use of such funds.
  • Additional oversight is necessary to evaluate statutorily-exempt funds for compliance with how funds are distributed or used by the agencies.

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