GAO Report on IPCC Spending Underscores Need for More Oversight of U.S. Funding, Better Accounting to Congress

December 19, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - The Government Accountability Office released today the first detailed accounting of the degree of U.S. financial support for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report was initiated in May 2010 at the request of Energy and Commerce Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX) and Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), who asked GAO to examine the extent to which the IPCC and the U.S. Department of State took to steps to ensure U.S. taxpayer funds were being spent appropriately.

GAO found that the State Department and other Federal agencies have done a poor job accounting for spending on IPCC support.  In fact, spending information provided to the Energy and Commerce Committee in June of 2010 was incorrect, underscoring the urgent need for better accounting practices and oversight.  According to the report, the U.S. supplied the IPCC with a total of $31 million in the decade between FY 2001 and FY 2010.

Further, the GAO found that the State Department exerts little oversight of the funding it supplies directly to the IPCC, because those IPCC funds are not subject to conditions. GAO found that for the indirect IPCC funds that are subject to conditions by the National Science Foundation, full oversight of those funds was not completed in recent years.

This GAO report was not able to examine whether changes in IPCC procedures will improve the quality of the assessments because those procedures have only recently been implemented.

Burgess and Barton issued the following statement in response to GAO's findings:

"It is irresponsible to waste taxpayer dollars on a program without an honest assessment of how these funds are being spent. GAO's analysis identifies several problems and inaccuracies with the information provided by the administration, demonstrating the need for more honest and direct accounting to Congress.  Our investigation has already led to initial reforms at the panel, but this report underscores a need for greater transparency and better information."

The full report is available online here.

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