Review of the Drug Enforcement Administrationís Custodial Accountability for Evidence Held at the Field Divisions

Report Number I-2004-003
January 2004


APPENDIX III

THE DEAíS RESPONSE


  U. S. Department of Justice
Drug Enforcement Administration

www.dea.gov
January 9, 2004



MEMORANDUM FOR THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL

TO: Paul A. Price
Assistant Inspector General
for Evaluation and Inspections
Office of the Inspector General
 
FROM: Karen P. Tandy
Administrator
Drug Enforcement Administration
 
SUBJECT: Draft Audit Report: Review of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Custodial Accountability for Evidence Held at the Field Divisions, A-2003-007
 

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has reviewed the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General's (OIG) draft audit report entitled, Review of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Custodial Accountability for Evidence Held at the Field Divisions, A-2003-007. DEA provides the following comments, as requested in your memorandum dated December 19, 2003.

DEA concurs with the recommendations resulting from this audit, most of which were previously identified independently by DBA's internal inspections. Based on both our review of the draft audit report and our discussions with OIG representatives, it appears that the current findings are focused on strengthening our existing management procedures, specifically related to evidence in the custody of Field Divisions. I was pleased to note that of 422 Assistant United States Attorneys surveyed by your office, all respondents reported they believe DEA safeguards the integrity of seized drugs and monies, and no respondent identified a case in which the integrity of DBA's custodial accountability resulted in the failure of the prosecution. I am confident that the corrective actions outlined in the attached action plan will not only strengthen the integrity of our evidence procedures at the division-level, but ensure federal prosecutions resulting from DBA investigations will continue to be successful.

DEA has completed a sensitivity review of the draft audit report. This information will be provided under separate cover.

Documentation detailing DEA's efforts to implement the action plan will be provided to OIG until all corrective actions are employed. If you have any questions regarding this. information, please contact Audit Liaison Sheldon Shoemaker at (202) 307-4205.

ACTION PLAN

REVIEW OF THE DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION'S CUSTODIAL ACCOUNTABILITY FOR EVIDENCE HELD AT THE FIELD DIVISIONS (A-2003-007)

Recommendation

  1. Implement the Office of Inspections' four remaining recommendations by:

    1. Developing an Evidence Custodian Handbook

      Actions Planned

      Policy pertaining to the processing, storage and reporting of bulk drugs and non-drug evidence can be found in the DEA Agents Manual. The Office of Operations Management (OM) is currently working on revising sections of the Agents Manual pertaining to drug and non-drug evidence, including seized monies (subchapters 6662 and 6681, respectively). OM will expand those sections to include more detailed instructions for evidence custodians, as well as field agents and task force officers, regarding the processing, storage, reporting and accounting of evidence. OM is currently working on the establishment of an Operations Division website on DEA's intranet. The website will include a frequently asked questions (FAQs) section, where DEA personnel can go to get answers to questions pertaining to evidence processing, storage and reporting. The answers to questions will be directly linked to pertinent sections of the Agents Manual.

      Projected Completion Date: March 2004

    2. Requiring Evidence Custodians to use pre-printed logbooks

      Actions Planned

      Policy pertaining to logbooks will be updated to mandate the use of pre-printed logbooks. A teletype will be sent to DEA field offices implementing the new policy and providing guidance on acquiring these ledgers. This policy will then be incorporated into the revised non-drug evidence section of the DEA Agents Manual. It must also be noted that it is anticipated that DEA's Enhanced Non- Drug Evidence Database System (ENEDS), which tracks bulk drug evidence and non-drug evidence (evidence maintained by the Field Division Offices), will be centralized at DEA Headquarters within FY 2005. The primary goals of a centralized ENEDS are the utilization of electronic logbooks, the eventual elimination of bound paper/pre-printed logbooks and more accurate tracking and accounting of non-drug evidence.

      Projected Completion Date: May 2004

    3. Identifying and designating a DEA employee with evidence custodian expertise to serve as the point-of-contact for all Evidence Custodians

      Actions Planned

      DEA's point of contact for operational policy is the Office of Operations Management's Policy and Procedures Section (OMM). OMM sets the policy for evidence processing, storage and reporting. OMM staff coordinators are supervisory special agents with evidence related experience initially as field agents, then as supervisors and sometimes as former non-drug evidence custodians. Supervisory Special Agent Staff Coordinators are responsible for responding to policy and procedural questions from field personnel, as well as evidence custodians. Staff coordinators are assigned to OMM on a rotating basis, and therefore, it is not feasible to designate a single DEA employee as a point-of-contact (POC) for field evidence custodians. Instead, OMM will issue a teletype to the field reaffirming OMM as the HQS office responsible for evidence handling questions. This teletype will include OMM positions and telephone numbers, as well as the current names of the Section Chief and Staff Coordinators. This information will also be included and kept current on the new Operations Division website. Additionally, any technology questions regarding ENEDS will be addressed by the Office of Information Technology (SI) and questions regarding the financial reporting of bulk marijuana and high-value items will be addressed by the Office of Finance (FN).

      Projected Completion Date: February 2004

    4. Developing a comprehensive training program for personnel assigned Evidence Custodians duties

      Actions Planned

      The Office of Training (TR) will work with OM and other Evidence Custodian/Evidence Handling Subject Matter Experts (SME's) to develop a task list and learning objectives for the Evidence Custodian Training program. TR, in concert with these SME's, will develop appropriate lesson plans and instructional materials for the new training program. A pilot training course will then be conducted with appropriate assessments, to ensure that essential and effective job-related training occurs.

      Projected Completion Date: August 2004

  2. Verify during field inspections that Evidence Custodians have an Evidence Custodian Handbook, use pre-printed logbooks, know the point-of-contact for evidence issues, and attend appropriate Evidence Custodian training.

    Actions Planned

    All DEA entities, foreign and domestic are required to complete a Division Inspection annually. This report is due into the Office of Inspections (IN) on September 1 each year. One of the mandated programs in the Division Inspection is the evidence program, both drug and non-drug. The DEA Agents Manual also requires a 100% annual inventory of all drug and non-drug evidence (including seized and recovered monies). IN reviews these annual reports, and they are used by IN when it conducts its On-Site Inspections every 36 months.

    Projected Completion Date: Annually



  U. S. Department of Justice
Drug Enforcement Administration

www.dea.gov
January 8, 2004



MEMORANDUM FOR THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL

TO: Paul A. Price
Assistant Inspector General
for Evaluation and Inspections
Office of the Inspector General
 
FROM: Elizabeth W. Kempshall
Chief
Executive Policy and Strategic Planning Staff
 
SUBJECT: Draft Audit Report: Review of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Custodial Accountability for Evidence Held at the Field Divisions, A-2003-007
 

As requested, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted a sensitivity review of the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General's draft audit report entitled, Review of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Custodial Accountability for Evidence Held at the Field Divisions, A-2003-007. The purpose of the review was to identify any proprietary, confidential or personal information that should not be released to the public.

DEA's FOI and Records Management Section reviewed the draft report in accordance with the Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts (FOI/PA) for release to the public. The draft report was determined to contain information of a sensitive nature, but the information may not be withheld under the provisions of the FOI/PA.

If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact Audit Liaison Sheldon Shoemaker at (202) 307-4205.