oversight

[District of Columbia Courts' Funding of Criminal Justice Act Obligations]

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-09-29.

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

           GA0
United States General Accounting Office                              Office of the General Counsel
Washington, DC 20548



           B-283599.2


          September 29, 1999


          Mr. Ulysses B. Hammond
          Executive Officer
          District of Columbia Courts

          Subject: District of Columbia Courts' Funding of Criminal Justice Act Obligations

          Dear Mr. Hammond:

          This responds to your letter dated September 27, 1999, requesting our views on the
          availability of four funding sources for obligations incurred under the Criminal
          Justice Act (CJA) in excess of the $25,036,000 cap established by the District of
          Columbia Appropriations Act, 1999. Specifically, you ask about two funding sources
          from the District of Columbia Appropriations Act, 1999, and two from legislation
          pending for fiscal year 2000. Because your request concerns fiscal year 1999 CJA
          obligations and you have identified unobligated funds from fiscal year 1999
          appropriations, we will limit our response here to the District of Columbia
          Appropriations Act, 1999.

          The availability of the two fiscal year 1999 sources you identify - unobligated
          appropriations earmarked for the Child Abuse and Neglect Program (CCAN) and
          unobligated appropriations for District of Columbia Courts operation generally - for
          CJA purposes present the same issue. Under what authority may the Courts use the
          Federal Payment to the District of Columbia Courts, which was appropriated by the
          District of Columbia AppropriationsAct, 1999, for CJA purposes in excess of the
          amount earmarked by the Act?

          The Federal Payment to the District of Columbia Courts provides up to $121 million
          for operation of the District of Columbia Courts. Pub. L. No. 105-277, 112 Stat. 2681-
          122 (1998). The first proviso to the appropriation provides that of the $121 million,
          up to $6.9 million shall be for CCAN and up to $25,036,000 shall be for CJA cases,
$31,936,000 in total.' The $25,036,000 thus represents a statutory limitation or
restriction on the amount of the Federal Payment the Courts may use for CJA cases.

Section 116 of the District of Columbia Appropriations Act, 1999, generally governs
reprogramming of funds appropriated by the Act. 112 Stat. 2681-135. Section 116
identifies seven potential results from a reprogramming. If any of the seven results
will occur, section 116 provides that none of the funds provided by the Act shall be
available for obligation or expenditure through a reprogramming unless the
Appropriations Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives are notified
in writing 30 days before the reprogramming.

The key potential result identified in section 116 to your situation is the fourth - a
reprogramming'that "increases funds ... by any means for any project or activity for
which funds have been denied or restricted ...." Because the District of Columbia
Appropriations Act, 1999, restricts the amount of the Federal Payment to the District
of Columbia Courts that may be used for CJA, any reprogramming to CJA from funds
for CCAN or other court operations would be a reprogramming that falls within
section 116(4). Accordingly, section 116 would require a written notice of the
reprogramming to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees 30 days before
the reprogramming takes place.

Your request cites the Courts' June 21, 1999 letter to the Senate and House
Appropriations Committees. The June 21 letter cites section 116 and notified the
committees "of the need to reprogram up to $1,000,000 to meet the projected
additional cost of services for CJA claims." The letter further states that it "is
anticipated that there will be unexpended CCAN funds plus savings realized from
cost containment measures of the Courts which can be reprogrammed and applied
to the CJA account."

Whether the June 21 letter constituted the Courts' reprogramming notice and, if so,
whether that notice satisfies section 116 is a matter for the Courts in the first
instance to determine. Because section 116 addresses communications with the
Senate and House Appropriations Committees, you may wish to discuss the matter
with the Committees. If CCAN funds, or other fiscal year 1999 funds from the
Federal Payment to the District of Columbia Courts, are reprogrammed for CJA


1The second proviso to the appropriation provides that the $31,936,000 in CCAN and
CJA funds may be used for other purposes authorized under the Federal Payment to
the District of Columbia Courts subject to the normal reprogramming requirements
in section 116 of the Act. This proviso makes clear that the amounts available for
CCAN and CJA may be reprogrammed within the lump sum Federal Payment to the
District of Columbia Courts for use for other purposes. It does not address the use
of unobligated funds to increase CJA spending otherwise covered by section 116 of
the Act. 112 Stat. at 2681-123.



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purposes in accordance with section 116, they would become available to pay CJA
obligations to the same extent as the $25,036,000 originally provided as part of the
Federal Payment to the District of Columbia Courts.

Should unexpended fiscal year 1999 funds be insufficient to meet your fiscal year
1999 CJA needs, we are available to meet with you to discuss any legal issues that
may arise regarding other funding sources. You may contact Jeffrey Jacobson,
Assistant General Counsel (512-8261) or Richard Cambosos ;Senior Attorney (512-
8263) of my staff.

Sincerely yours,




Robert P. Murphy
General Counsel




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