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General Accounting Office probe finds OSAP grantees in violation of the law.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association has reported that the General Accounting Office (GAO) has identified violations of federal laws by the Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (OSAP).

According to the report, OSAP, which is now called the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), broke the laws which prohibit federal officials from engaging in activities which are broadly characterized as "lobbying" or "publicity or propaganda." As a result, the GAO has ordered CSAP to recover funds from grantees which were "not spent in accordance with law or grant requirements."

The GAO commenced their investigation at the request of over 110 Members of Congress to determine whether laws prohibiting lobbying by federal agencies were being violated.

Although the GAO reported that its investigation found no "illegal lobbying by OSAP in its publications or any of its own activities," the accounting office found the planning of the Alcohol Policy VIII conference, held in March 1992, to have included lobbying. GAO concluded: "Grass roots lobbying was an inextricable part of the planning process for the conference and of the events that took place. We believe that it would be strained and artificial to suggest that the prohibited activities were solely attributable to non-federal funds."

In other instances, GAO criticized OSAP for failure to adopt controls to prevent use of federally-sponsored conferences from being used as a forum for grass roots lobbying and for not exercising some control over the content of their publications beyond merely publishing a disclaimer. "OSAP cannot be a pure conduit, without attention to what it publishes...," the GAO report stated.

NBWA president Ron Sarasin expressed satisfaction at the result of the investigation. "The results of the GAO report will provide the incentive for CSAP to clean up its act," he said. "The results of the investigation should result in a much wiser expenditure of the millions of taxpayer dollars currently spent by this agency."

Sarasin also noted that the investigation may continue. "Additional information has come to light," he said, "which indicates other possible violations. These materials will be turned over to the proper authorities."
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Title Annotation:Office for Substance Abuse Prevention
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:May 17, 1993
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