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2002 Olympics to Cost US Taxpayers $1.3 Billion: >Page 1, 2

No Federal Olympics Law or Policy
In the GAO report, Olympic Games - Federal Government Supplies Significant Funding and Support. investigators report that, "no government-wide law or policy exists that defines the federal government’s overall role in funding and supporting the Olympic Games when hosted in the United States. Nor is there a single federal agency that has the responsibility to oversee and monitor the federal funding and support provided for the Olympic Games." However, reports the GAO, federal agencies have in the past and continue to fund various aspects of the Olympic Games in response to requests from state and local governments. According to the GAO, " Federal assistance has been requested because these entities have not had enough resources to provide for the infrastructure improvements necessary to prepare the host city or to plan and stage all aspects of the Olympic Games when hosted in the United States."

Although President Clinton established a White House task force to coordinate federal involvement in the 1996 Atlanta and 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games, OMB found no statutory requirement for a single federal agency to oversee and monitor the appropriateness of federal funding and support for the Olympic Games.

In addition, GAO researchers found that federal agencies failed to properly track or report their spending in support of the Olympic Games, except when directly ordered to do so by the White House's Office of Management and Budget.

Some Example Expenditures

Examples of Major Federal Funding and Support Planned
 and Provided to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games  in Salt Lake City
(In 1999 Dollars)

Agency Services Provided Total Projected Cost
Dept. of Defense safety & security services  $24.6 million
Health & Human Services safety & security services  $9.5 million
Dept. of Justice

safety & security services 

$47 million
Treasury safety & security services  $58.7 million
FEMA safety & security services $6.1 million
Forest Service planning services - forest improvements  $16.1 million

Transportation (DOT)

transportation & transit improvements --
planning and construction

$83.8 million

GAO's Recommendations 
In its report to Senators McCain and Dingell, the GAO concludes that while its roll in the Olympic Games is not specifically authorized by statute or policy, the federal government has become a major financial supporter of the Games when hosted by U.S. cities. According to the GAO, Congress should consider passing laws formalizing the government's roll and level of support for the Olympic Games.

The GAO further recommends:

  1. That the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), "track and periodically report to Congress federal agencies’ planned and actual funding and support for the Olympic Games hosted in the United States, beginning when a U.S. city is awarded the right to host the Games through the completion of the Games.

  2. That OMB, "provide guidance to agencies on what data should be compiled to ensure consistency and completeness, and request all federal agencies to provide information, including those that do not normally report to OMB."

  3. That the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Veterans Administration (VA), "implement policies and controls to ensure the appropriate use of federal funds for the Olympic and Paralympic Games hosted in the United States."

Senator McCain on the GAO Report
On Sept. 19, 2000, Sen. McCain, speaking in opposition to the Conference Report on the 2001 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill advised the Senate of details from the GAO's report. As recorded in the Congressional Record, Sen. McCain stated, 

"The GAO now determines that $1.3 billion--and some of those I will read: $974,000 for the Utah State Olympic Public Safety Command; $5 million for the Utah Communications Agency Network; $3 million to Olympic Regional Development Authority, upgrades at Mt. Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex; $2.5 million, Salt Lake City Olympics bus facilities; $2.5 million, Salt Lake City Olympics regional park-and-ride lots; $500,000, Salt Lake City Olympics transit bus loan, and on and on; $925,000 to allow the Utah State Olympic Public Safety Command to continue to develop and support a public safety program for the 2002 Winter Olympics; $1 million for the 2002 Winter Olympics security training; $2.2 million for the Charleston Water Conservancy District, UT, to meet sewer infrastructure needs associated with the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. What the Olympic games supposedly hosted and funded by Salt Lake City, which began in corruption and bribery, has now turned into is an incredible pork-barrel project for Salt Lake City and its environs."  -- Sen. John McCain in the United States Senate, Sept. 19, 2000 - [Page S8731-S8748 - Congressional Record.]


Reference Links

Olympic Games: Federal Government Provides Significant Funding and Support. GAO/GGD-00-183
Download the entire GAO report in .pdf format. Report is not available online. (Viewing the report requires the free Adobe Acrobat viewer.)

The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO)
An agency that works for Congress and the American people. Congress asks GAO to study the programs and expenditures of the federal government. Commonly called the investigative arm of Congress or the congressional watchdog.

More Olympics Coverage

Answer to Olympic Crass Commercialism? Legal Protection for Sydney Olympics' Brands
The Olympic Committee and the Aussies have combined to give unprecedented legal favor to official game sponsors, banning such products as Pepsi, MasterCard and Egg McMuffin look-alikes, and leaving one to wonder just who benefits from this new control. From Guide to the Law Paul S. Reed.

Olympic Women
Links to information about the women participants and and women's sports included in the Olympic Games. From Women's Issues Guide Karen J. Gould.

Olympics Coverage in US Newspapers
Follow the Sydney Games through the words of US Newspapers and Guide Jack Downs

The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games: Environmental Issues
Information about the types of environment and conservation issues addressed by various participants of the 2000 /Summer Olympics in Sydney Australia. From Environmental Issues Guide Patricia Michaels.

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