General Accounting Office
Legal Services And Decisions
The legal work of the GAO is centered at the headquarters office in its Office of the General Counsel.
The comptroller general makes final determinations as to the legality of actions taken by federal departments and agencies with regard to accountability for the use of public funds. These determinations are made in connection with actions that are already taken and on an advance basis upon request by certain responsible officers of the government. Decisions of the comptroller general concerning the legality of payments may arise from the audit work of the GAO or may be applied for by the heads of departments or agencies or by certifying and disbursing officers with regard to payments to be made or as a result of congressional inquiries.
The comptroller general also considers questions that arise in connection with the award of government contracts and certain contracts under government grants. Statutory and regulatory procedures precisely define the manner in which these government awards are to be made, and those competing for such awards who believe that requirements have not been met in any particular instance may apply to the comptroller general for a determination.
The legal work of the GAO also covers a wide range of advisory services—to Congress, its committees, and members, with respect to the legal effect of statutory provisions and implications of proposed legislation as well as assistance in drafting legislation; to the JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, primarily in the form of litigation reports on court cases generated by, or related to, the work of the GAO; and to the courts in connection with cases involving the award of government contracts. In addition, there is daily coordination between the staff of the Office of the General Counsel and the audit and operating staffs with regard to the legal consequences of issues raised in the course of reviews of government activities.
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