GAO report shows missing documentation within Department of Labor

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released on Thursday found that the majority of grants issued through the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) did not have proper documentation.

According to the report, which was requested by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), documentation was missing from 62 percent of ILAB’s award grant files.

ILAB works to improve international working conditions and to prevent exploitation of children and other vulnerable people. Approximately $70 million in grants were awarded to projects in foreign countries last year.

“(Thursday’s) report shows that the lack of internal controls at the Department of Labor means these grants, meant to improve labor standards and to combat child labor, could instead be funding organizations that have actually been banned from partnering with the federal government,” Hatch, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said. “The lack of documentation on the awarding of these grants to foreign countries is both reckless and irresponsible, especially in the current environment of fiscal restraint and budget cuts. The Department of Labor should not be dumping millions of dollars abroad without ensuring that the funds are used correctly and responsibly, and I urge the secretary of labor to heed GAO’s recommendations on implementing proper internal controls regarding these grants.”

The GAO report found that 15 percent of ILAB’s grant files had no documentation at all.

“Taxpayers should be doubly offended by GAO’s report – not only are millions of their hard-earned dollars being used to support labor unions in foreign countries, those dollars are also being mismanaged,” Alexander, the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said. “The pattern of negligence revealed by GAO demands immediate action from Secretary (of Labor Thomas) Perez.”

The GAO report concluded that internal control was vital to ensure that organizations prohibited from working with the federal government are not awarded grants.