United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

OIG/98A-17 - Review of NRC Representation Funds

MEMORANDUM TO: Chairman Jackson
FROM: Hubert T. Bell
Inspector General
SUBJECT: REVIEW OF NRC REPRESENTATION FUNDS

Attached is the Office of the Inspector General's (OIG) report titled "Review of NRC Representation Funds." This report reflects the results of OIG's audit of the agency's funds appropriated for official representation expenses. Based on our evaluation of fund transactions for FY 1998, we found that the fund is managed and operating in an acceptable manner in accordance with NRC Management Directive guidance.

On September 18, 1998, OIG held an exit conference and briefed agency management on our findings. Since this report does not contain recommendations, we did not provide a draft for agency comment.

Attachment: As stated


Attachment

Contents:


Report Synopsis

The United States Congress first appropriated monies to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for Official Representation Funds (hereafter referred to as the "fund") in 1976. Congress annually appropriates monies to NRC for official representation expenses and establishes a dollar limit on the amount of these expenses. For fiscal year (FY) 1998, Congress appropriated official representation expenses in an amount not to exceed $20,000. For FY 1998, the fund has $38,000 available for use as a result of an $18,000 carryover from previous years.

Based on our evaluation of fund transactions for FY 1998, we found that: (1) the fund is managed and operating in an acceptable manner in accordance with NRC Management Directive guidance; (2) the Office of International Program's (OIP) files are complete, and access to and accountability of fund records and resources is limited to authorized NRC employees; (3) fund transactions and Government protocol functions are promptly and accurately recorded and classified; (4) NRC personnel acting within the scope of their authority authorize and execute fund transactions; and (5) key duties and responsibilities for authorizing, processing, recording, and reviewing fund transactions are properly separated among employees. Therefore, we made no recommendations.

We are aware that the Commission revised its internal procedures on June 30, 1998, to allow for allocation of funds to each Commissioner's office for representational expenses. As a result, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) developed a plan to allocate funds to each Commissioner's office for FY's 1999-2000 into six separate portions: one to the Chairman, one for each of the four Commissioners (including the vacant Commissioner positions), and one for OIP. The CFO forwarded a proposal detailing this plan to the Commission where it is under review.


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Introduction

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has completed a review of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Official Representation Fund (hereafter referred to as the "fund"). We performed a review of the fund in 1990(1) and found that its administration had been efficient and effective. Also, NRC had implemented controls to protect the fund.

Our overall objectives for this review were to determine the propriety of fund expenditures and whether fund activities are conducted in compliance with the requirements of NRC Management Directive (MD) 5.4, titled "Official Representation Expenses." MD 5.4 provides policy, objectives, organizational responsibilities, delegations of authority, and internal controls for official representation expenses.

See Appendix I for more details about the objective, scope, and methodology for this review.


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Background

The United States Congress first appropriated monies to NRC for the fund in 1976. Congress annually appropriates monies to NRC for official representation expenses and establishes a dollar limit on the amount of these expenses. For fiscal year (FY) 1998, under Appropriations Legislation for Salaries and Expenses, Congress allowed official representation expenses not to exceed $20,000.(2) For FY 1998, the fund has $38,000 available for use as a result of an $18,000 carryover from several previous years.(3) The Director, Division of Budget and Analysis, Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO), allots funds for official representation expenses each year upon passage into law of NRC's annual Appropriations Act and apportionment of these monies by the Office of Management and Budget.

NRC must use official representation funds principally in connection with international cooperation activities under the intent expressed by Congress. However, NRC may use these funds in connection with other activities on a very selective basis when circumstances dictate this use. NRC must use its funds only for selected Government protocol functions for which the NRC is the sponsor. The purpose of these functions is to accord proper honor and recognition to:   (1) foreign dignitaries visiting the NRC; (2) foreign dignitaries by NRC representatives during their official visits to foreign countries; (3) important officials of State and local governments in connection with their participation in special events, such as dedications, relevant to the NRC's mission; and (4) high-level domestic officials at special functions hosted by one or more NRC Commissioners.

According to MD 5.4, official representation functions generally consist of dinners, luncheons, cocktail parties, receptions, or similar affairs. NRC may consider these functions to be official representation only when:   (1) NRC sponsors the representation function as official business of the Commission; and (2) the attainment of NRC objectives is the underlying purpose.

The following is a typical flow of events for the use of the fund:  

  • The Office of International Programs (OIP) has International Relations Specialists who are assigned specific countries. OIP refers to these individuals as Desk Officers. Normally, the Desk Officer informs (verbally or through e-mail) either the Director, OIP, or his designee, in advance of an official representation function.

  • The designee reviews the request for adequacy and compliance with MD 5.4, completes a "Request for Administrative Services," NRC Form 30, and submits the Form to the Director, OIP. The Director, OIP, will then authorize the official representation function in advance.(4)

  • A funds certifying official within the Division of Budget and Analysis, OCFO, certifies that funds are available in advance for expenses up to $500. If expenses exceed $500, a higher-level certifying official within OCFO must also approve the request.

  • OCFO processes the request, certifies that funds are available, and returns Form 30 to OIP. Funds are then obligated.

  • The OIP designee receives the approved amount of cash from the Imprest Fund Cashier.

  • The OIP designee is generally responsible for coordinating and setting up functions, payment of fund expenses, and collecting original itemized receipts for OIP to attach to the close-out documentation "Public Voucher for Purchases and Services Other Than Personal," Standard Form (SF) 1034. OIP prepares the SF-1034 for payment of expenses and submits the original documentation to the Cashier in the Travel Services Section. If there are excess funds, these are also returned to the Cashier with the appropriate documentation.


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Findings

We found that OIP manages NRC representation activities efficiently and effectively and in accordance with controls established in MD 5.4. OIP ensures that fund activities are properly authorized and that expenses are monitored and controlled. Specifically, we found that:

  1. Fund resources have been used exclusively for appropriate Government protocol functions for which the NRC is the sponsor.

  2. OIP's files were complete and were readily available for OIG's examination. Also, access to and accountability of fund records and resources was limited to authorized NRC employees only.

  3. Fund transactions and Government protocol functions were promptly and accurately recorded and classified (e.g., dinners, luncheons, signings, receptions, purchase of mementos, etc.).

  4. Appropriate NRC personnel, acting within the scope of their authority, executed and authorized fund transactions.

  5. NRC properly separated key duties and responsibilities for authorizing, processing, recording, and reviewing fund transactions among employees as stated in MD 5.4. Adequate supervision was in place to ensure that internal control objectives were achieved.

We also found that NRC is changing the manner in which it allocates funds for representational expenses. On June 30, 1998, the Commission revised its internal procedures(5) to allocate funds to each Commissioner's office for representational expenses. Under the new procedures, each Commissioner's office will track their individual expenditures. As a result, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) developed a plan to allocate funds to the Commissioner's offices for FY's 1999-2000 into six separate portions: one to the Chairman, one for each of the four Commissioners (including the vacant Commissioner positions), and one for OIP. The OIP allocation would cover: (1) representation activities sponsored by the staff; (2) procurement of mementos for use by the Chairman, Commissioners, and staff; and (3) the annual recurring representation expenses for the International Atomic Energy Agency general conference.

Although this situation may have some effect on existing controls, the CFO is cognizant of this and will work with OIP to monitor the situation to determine if changes are necessary. The CFO forwarded a proposal detailing this plan to the Commission where it is under review.


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Conclusion

Our evaluation of fund transactions and Government protocol functions for

FY 1998, found that the fund is managed and operating in an acceptable manner in accordance with NRC Management Directive guidance. As a result of our review, we are making no recommendations.


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Appendices

I. Objective, Scope, and Methodology

The overall objectives of our review were to determine the propriety of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Official Representation Fund (the "fund") expenditures and whether the fund is operating in compliance with the requirements of NRC Management Directive (MD) 5.4, titled "Official Representation Expenses." In order to review the fiscal year (FY) 1998 fund information, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) developed a criteria checklist by focusing on the following guidance from MD 5.4:   (1) approval and authorization of official representation expenses; (2) criteria under which expenses may be charged; and (3) documentation of expenses. OIG then reviewed information for each of the sixty transaction files for FY 1998 to date.

Additionally, we wanted to ensure that all appropriate documentation was in the files and that any unused representation funds were accounted for and returned promptly to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO). We also interviewed Office of International Programs (OIP) and OCFO employees regarding the use of the fund, and reviewed OIP summary reports of all representation expenses incurred during FY 1998 to date. Our evaluation was conducted in August and September 1998, in accordance with generally accepted Government auditing standards.


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II. Major Contributors to this Report

Anthony C. Lipuma
Team Leader

Michael J. Steinberg
Auditor


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III. Glossary:   Office of the Inspector General Products

Investigative

1.INVESTIGATIVE REPORT - WHITE COVER

An Investigative Report documents pertinent facts of a case and describes available evidence relevant to allegations against individuals, including aspects of an allegation not substantiated. Investigative reports do not recommend disciplinary action against individual employees. Investigative reports are sensitive documents and contain information subject to the Privacy Act restrictions. Reports are given to officials and managers who have a need to know in order to properly determine whether administrative action is warranted. The agency is expected to advise the OIG within 90 days of receiving the investigative report as to what disciplinary or other action has been taken in response to investigative report findings.

2.EVENT INQUIRY - GREEN COVER

The Event Inquiry is an investigative product that documents the examination of events or agency actions that do not focus specifically on individual misconduct. These reports identify institutional weaknesses that led to or allowed a problem to occur. The agency is requested to advise the OIG of managerial initiatives taken in response to issues identified in these reports but tracking its recommendations is not required.

3.MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS REPORT (MIR) - MEMORANDUM

MIRs provide a "ROOT CAUSE" analysis sufficient for managers to facilitate correction of problems and to avoid similar issues in the future. Agency tracking of recommendations is not required.


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Audit

4.AUDIT REPORT - BLUE COVER

An Audit Report is the documentation of the review, recommendations, and findings resulting from an objective assessment of a program, function, or activity. Audits follow a defined procedure that allows for agency review and comment on draft audit reports. The audit results are also reported in the OIG's "Semiannual Report" to the Congress. Tracking of audit report recommendations and agency response is required.

5.SPECIAL EVALUATION REPORT - BURGUNDY COVER

A Special Evaluation Report documents the results of short-term, limited assessments. It provides an initial, quick response to a question or issue, and data to determine whether an in-depth independent audit should be planned. Agency tracking of recommendations is not required.


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Regulatory

6.REGULATORY COMMENTARY - BROWN COVER

Regulatory Commentary is the review of existing and proposed legislation, regulations, and policies so as to assist the agency in preventing and detecting fraud, waste, and abuse in programs and operations. Commentaries cite the IG Act as authority for the review, state the specific law, regulation or policy examined, pertinent background information considered and identifies OIG concerns, observations, and objections. Significant observations regarding action or inaction by the agency are reported in the OIG Semiannual Report to Congress. Each report indicates whether a response is required.

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1. Review of the Use of and Controls Over the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Official Representation Fund, July 12, 1990, OIG 90A-15.

2. Current Appropriations Bill before the House/Senate Conference Committee on Energy and Water Development provides $15,000 for NRC representation activities during FY 1999.

3. The Appropriations Legislation allows for funds to remain available until expended.

4. MD 5.4 provides that, although the advance planning usually inherent in representation functions should complement procedures, emergency cases arising from unforeseen circumstances may make it necessary to bypass advance submission of Form 30.

5. COMSECY-98-005, dated June 30, 1998, on Internal Commission Procedures.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012