Courts Overspent Budget in Violation of Federal Law
Keary, Jim, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
D.C. Superior Court and Court of Appeals officials overspent $4.6 million in 1998 because they mismanaged its budget thereby violating the federal Anti-Deficiency Act, a General Accounting Office report shows.
The report released yesterday says that the courts were aware in the early months of the year that they would run out of money but did little to make adjustments.
"Throughout fiscal year 1998, it was clear that unless D.C. Courts modified its spending or received additional funds, it was facing a shortfall," the report says.
The GAO said that the Office of Management and Budget had warned the courts in April 1998 that it was exceeding its budget, but instead of cutting back it asked for money.
"Letters between D.C. Courts and OMB during fiscal year 1998 reflect D.C. Courts' officials expectations of receiving additional funds, and OMB's concerns that if D.C. Courts did not lower its rate of spending its obligations would exceed funding," the audit says.
The courts overspent their budget and, as a result, violated the Anti-Deficiency Act, which forbids spending unappropriated money.
The GAO has recommended that the court look into its overspending.
"The GAO has provided many constructive suggestions during this review process which the courts will use to improve operations," said Ulysses B. Hammond, the court's executive officers.
Superior Court Chief Judge Eugene H. Hamilton said through his secretary he has not received a copy of the report and would not comment. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Annice M. Wagner did not return telephone calls to her office and could not be reached for comment.
In a response to the GAO, Judge Wagner said that the courts were under funded and did not violate the Anti-Deficiency Act.
"It is likewise incorrect, as we have demonstrated, to conclude that the courts even `potentially' violated the Anti-Deficiency Act. …