GAO: FDIC OIG violated appropriations, purpose statutes during funding lapse

The inspector general office of the federal bank deposit insurance agency, operating despite its most recent funding lapse and using funds from the deposit insurance fund, violated both the Antideficiency Act and the purpose statute governing federal appropriations, according to a legal opinion released Tuesday by the congressional watchdog office.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued the opinion of its general counsel following the agency’s audits of the 2018 and 2017 financial statements of the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF), which insures deposits in federally insured banks, and the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. (FSLIC) Resolution Fund, both administered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC).

During the audit, the letter states, the GAO became aware that the FDIC OIG continued operations during its most recent lapse in appropriations – from Dec. 22, 2018, through Jan. 25, 2019 – using FDIC’s general authority to obligate funds from the DIF. GAO says that violated both the purpose statute, which requires funds to be used only for the purpose for which they were appropriated; and the Antidefiency Act, which bars federal agencies from using funds in advance or in excess of funds appropriated.

GAO, summarizing the findings, said it concluded that the FDIC OIG violated the purpose statute when it obligated funds from the DIF while FDIC OIG was subject to a lapse in its appropriations. “Although FDIC has general authority to incur obligations against the DIF for its necessary expenses,” it stated, “Congress has annually provided FDIC OIG with a separate appropriation available specifically for its activities. And, where two appropriations could arguably be available for the same purpose, the agency must use the specific appropriation for that expenditure to the exclusion of the more general appropriation. In addition, because FDIC OIG did not have an available appropriation, we found that FDIC OIG also violated the Antideficiency Act.”

GAO decision