The United States Marshals Service (USMS) assumes custody of individuals arrested by all federal agencies and is responsible for the housing and transportation of prisoners from the time they are brought into federal custody until they are either acquitted or incarcerated. Each day, the USMS houses more than 47,000 detainees throughout the nation. In order to house these pre-sentenced detainees, the USMS executes contracts known as Intergovernmental Service Agreements (IGA) with state and local governments to rent jail space. According to the USMS, 75 percent of the detainees in USMS custody are detained in state, local, and private facilities.
In locations where detention space is scarce, the USMS provides select state and local governments with funds to improve local jail facilities and to expand jail capacities. In return, the USMS receives guaranteed space for its federal detainees. The USMS, acting on its own behalf as well as that of the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has awarded $285 million to counties and municipalities, resulting in the provision of more than 13,600 guaranteed spaces for federal detainees.
The USMS awarded the Alexandria, Virginia Sheriff’s Office (Sheriff’s Office) IGA number 83-00-0014 on December 8, 1999. According to the IGA, prisoners are housed in the Alexandria Adult Detention Center (detention center) at a rate of $93.92 per jail day.1 According to the City of Alexandria’s performance accounting system general ledger, during this 23-month period, the Sheriff’s Office was paid $9,077,291 under the IGA.
The purpose of the audit was to determine if the allowable costs for the detention and care of inmates under OMB Circular A-87, “Cost Principles for State, Local and Indian Tribal Government” supported the jail day rate. 2 Based on our audit of actual costs and daily population, we determined that the Sheriff’s Office’s records supported the rate used to bill the USMS.