Fast Facts

In enforcing regulations, federal agencies use fines to punish willful violators and to deter future violations. However, if these fines aren't regularly adjusted for inflation, they may become less effective as a deterrent. Congress enacted the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 partly to address this issue. In 2015, Congress amended the act to require GAO to annually review agencies' compliance with certain provisions.

This year, we found that the majority of the 48 agencies that could be subject to the act complied with its publication and reporting requirements for the 2020 inflation adjustment.

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Highlights

What GAO Found

In this fifth annual review, GAO found that the majority of federal agencies that could be subject to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended (IAA), have complied with the provisions of the act to publish 2020 civil monetary penalty inflation adjustments in the Federal Register and report related information in their 2020 agency financial reports (AFR), or equivalent. However, two agencies did not publish inflation adjustments in the Federal Register as of December 31, 2020, and did not report the required information in their 2020 AFRs for one or more of their civil monetary penalties.

Why GAO Did This Study

The IAA includes a provision, added in 2015, requiring GAO to annually submit to Congress a report assessing agencies' compliance with the annual inflation adjustments required by the act. This is the fifth annual report responding to this requirement.

For more information, contact Paula M. Rascona at (202) 512-9816 or rasconap@gao.gov.

Full Report

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