WASHINGTON - The General Accounting Office has approved the 1992 financial statements for the bank and thrift insurance funds, but has sounded a warning over internal controls.

In an 18-page report signed by Comptroller General Charles A. Bowsher, the GAO said last week that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which administers both insurance funds, does not have adequate internal controls to ensure that:

* Assets inherited from failed banks are safeguarded against loss from unauthorized use.

* Unauthorized transactions are not executed.

* Transactions are properly recorded, processed, and summarized to permit the preparation of financial statements and maintain accountability for assets.

Gaps in Implementation

The congressional audit agency also criticized the FDIC's implementation of the FDIC Improvement Act.

"We are concerned that the very limited implementing regulations recently issued by FDIC ... will not facilitate achieving the objectives of the Congress in enacting these reforms," the report stated. It did not specify which parts of the law were not being implemently sufficiently.

The GAO also repeated charges, first leveled in February, that the FDIC and the other federal regulators are not, properly examining banks and thrifts.

The watchdog agency stopped short of recommending an overhaul but noted the overlap and inconsistencies in the four-agency system and said it should be "reexamined."

The report said the Bank Insurance Fund had net income of $6.9 billion in 1992, its first positive year since 1987. The fund's deficit fell to $101 million from $7 billion in 1991. Unaudited figures had the bank fund back in the black at the end of the first quarter at $1.2 billion.

The FDIC reduced its reserve for future possible losses to $10.8 billion at the end of 1992 from $16.3 billion in 1991. The GAO said the reserve could be reduced even further during 1993.

Today the bank fund has about 6 cents for every $100 it insures. In 1991, Congress instructed the FDIC to reach $1.25 per $100 by 2006.

Regarding internal controls, the GAO said the FDIC is not keeping a tight rein on outside companies contracted to manage and sell $11 billion in assets.

The GAO also faulted the FDIC's tracking of employee time in allocating overhead costs to each insurance fund, which could result in overcharges for the Savings Association Insurance Fund.

The FDIC also did not track fees owed to SAIF from thrifts that switched to the Bank Insurance Fund since 1990, the GAO said. As a result, the FDIC had to repay SAIF $18.4 million.

A day after the GAO released its report, the FDIC put out a press release detailing six changes designed to strengthen internal controls. The GAO said it will detail the FDIC's remedies in an upcoming report as well as evaluate accounting controls.

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