Outstanding Travel Advances for Employees of the Manpower Administration

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-10-15.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

   "~<~/                        WASHINGTON, D.C.   20548

CIVIL DIVISION                                                  OCT 1 5 1971

       Dear Mr. Zarb:

            We have completed a review of travel advances outstanding for
       employees of the Manpower Administration (MA), located at the Headquarters
       Office in Washington, D.C. Our review covered the period from April 1,
       1970 to June 30, 1971, and consisted of an examination, on a test basis,
       of the procedures, internal controls, reports, and records relating to
       travel advances of the Branch of Voucher Payment (BVP), Division of
       Payment Services, Office of Accounting and Payment Services (OAPS).

            Improvements were needed in certain procedures and controls over
       travel advances and in the reports prepared on advances. The Director of
       OAPS and his staff advised us that appropriate corrective actions had been
       or would be taken on all of the matters disclosed in our review.

            On April 12, and June 10, 1971, we reported similar findings resulting
       from our reviews of administrative practices in the Chicago and San Francisco
       Regional Administrative Offices.

            The details of our findings are presented below.


           BVP is required by Department regulations to prepare monthly reports
      of outstanding travel advances by the fifth working day of the following
      month and send copies of the reports to the applicable administrative
      offices. The offices receiving the reports are to take appropriate action
      on advances which need to be recovered or adjusted.

            We found that BVP did not prepare the monthly reports for March 1971
       for the MA's six appropriations until late in June 1971, and that the
       reports for April, May and June of 1971 had not been prepared as of July 9,
       1971. An MA official informed us that reports for several other months in
       fiscal year 1971 were also received late.

           The individual reports as of March 31, 1971, prepared by BVP for the
      6 MA appropriations contained 765 names of employees having outstanding
      travel advances totaling $250,571. The reports showed the appropriation
      to which the employees' travel advances were chargeable; but they did not
      show the organizational unit that the employees were assigned to in MA.
      An MA official informed us that failing to show the organizational unit of
      the employees hindered the usefulness of the reports by making it more
      difficult to follow-up on the employees with advances.

                              50TH ANNIVERSARY 1921-1971
     BVP also uses the monthly reports to reconcile the totals of
outstanding travel advances, by appropriation, with the balances shown on
the monthly trial balances prepared from the accounting records. We noted
in July 1971 that BVP had not made the reconciliations for any of the MA
appropriations since February 1971. Our comparison of the totals on the
reports as of March 31, 1971, with the balances shown on the March trial
balances revealed differences ranging from $23 to $2,644 for 5 of 6 MA


     BVP is required by Department regulations to review outstanding
travel advances quarterly and prepare lists of those advances which should
be reduced or terminated and refunded. BVP had not made the required
review of outstanding travel advances for the last quarter of fiscal year
1970 and for the first three quarters of fiscal year 1971.


     Our review of the 765 travel advances, totaling $250,571, outstanding
at March 31, 1971, for MA employees indicated that many of the advances
should have been reduced or liquidated on the basis of the travel
experience of the persons holding the advances.

     Of the 765 travel advances, 257 advances, totaling $97,855 had been
outstanding for more than 6 months, including 57 advances, totaling
$20,668, which had been outstanding with no travel activity indicated for
the employees for between 10 to 12 months, and 124 advances, totaling
$48,506, with no travel activity indicated for the employees for more than
1 year including some with no travel activity indicated by the employees
since dates in 1967, 1968 and 1969. Personnel at BVP were unable to
explain why these advances had remained outstanding for such a long period
of time.

     We also noted that two of the outstanding advances had been made to
an individual who was no longer employed by MA. Ten other advances out-
standing, which had been made to individuals who were no longer employed
by MA, had not been included on the March 1971 report. BVP records showed
that letters had been written in 1968 and 1969 in an attempt to collect
some of the advances but in none of the cases had the advances been repaid.
There was no further correspondence with the individuals since 1969.


     The Director, OAPS, and members of his staff agreed with our findings
in July and August 1971. The Director cited turnover of personnel,
increased workloads, and decreased authorized overtime as factors

                                                                    - 2-
contributing to the deficient conditions which we noted.      The vacancy of
the position of Chief, BVP, since April 1971 and the extensive absences
of the former Chief from December 1970 to April 1971 were also cited.

     BVP officials also advised us that new voucher review procedures were
adopted in April 1971. Before processing a traveler's voucher for payment
on any specific trip, BVP checks its records to ascertain whether the
traveler has a travel advance outstanding,     If an advance is outstanding
and the traveler did not reduce his voucher claim for the outstanding
advance, BVP will revise the traveler's voucher amount to offset the


     The new procedures, if properly implemented, should improve the
controls over outstanding travel advances in the future and should help
reduce some of the outstanding advances.

     In addition,' we recommend that a concerted effort be undertaken by
OAPS and MA to liquidate or reduce the advances that have been outstand-
ing for a considerable period of time and where no travel activity is
likely to occur in the near future, and to recover amounts advanced to
individuals who are no longer employed by the IlA.

      Also, we recommend that BVP be instructed to (1) prepare the required
monthly reports, (2) reconcile the reports to the general ledger balances,
and (3) make the required quarterly review of outstanding travel advances
and prepare lists of those advances which need to be recovered or adjusted.
We recommend further that officials receiving the quarterly lists be
required to report back to BVP on the actions taken to liquidate or reduce
the outstanding advances shown on the lists.

     We wish to acknowledge the cooperation given our representatives
during the review and we would appreciate being advised of actions taken
on these matters.

                                       Sincerely yours,'

                                       Henry Eschwege
                                       Associate Director

                                           cc: Mr.   David Williams, MA
                                               Mr.   Edward McVeigh, OASA
The Honorable Frank Zarb                       Mr.   Edgar Dye, OASA
Assistant Secretary for Administration         Mr.   Wayland Coe, OASA
Department of Labor