Coast Guard accused of 20 Anti-Deficiency Act wrongs totaling $7M

The inspector general found that Coast Guard managers violated the Anti-Deficiency Act in the recent response boat acquisition.

The Coast Guard is responsible for 20 violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act totaling approximately $7 million in its recent response boat acquisition program, according to a new report from the Homeland Security Department Office of Inspector General.

The Coast Guard must notify DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano of the violations and identify the names of the responsible parties, including funding officials and obligating officials, wrote Anne Richards, assistant inspector general for audits, in the June 20 report.

The inspector general’s findings were developed at the request of the Coast Guard, which stopped work on the response boat acquisition in 2010 following an internal investigation.

“We concur with the conclusions from the Coast Guard’s internal investigation identifying Anti-Deficiency Act violations for fiscal 2004 through 2009. The Coast Guard’s lack of policies, procedures, and training led to the improper use of appropriations for design changes,” Richards wrote.

Richards also recommended changes to Coast Guard standard operating procedures to safeguard against future violations.

The Coast Guard did not dispute the inspector general’s findings. The agency said it has reported the violations and modified its operating procedures.

The goal of the Anti-Deficiency Act is to allow Congress to enforce controls on government spending.

Under the law, federal agencies are prohibiting from authorizing an expenditure from a fund that exceeds the amount that was approved by Congress for that fund. The law also disallows making expenditures for a program before funds are appropriated for that purpose.

Penalties for offenders include potential removal from a job, loss or reduction of pay, and fines and imprisonment for up to two years, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The Coast Guard initiated the Response Boat-Medium program in 2002 to replace its aging utility boat fleet. In 2009, the agency identified that there might be Anti-Deficiency Act violations in the acquisition program, and it initiated an internal investigation.

As a result of the review, the Coast Guard issued the stop-work order in 2010 and requested the inspector general's investigation.