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

Report Number I-2004-003
January 2004


APPENDIX IV

THE OIG'S ANALYSIS OF THE DEA'S RESPONSE

On December 19, 2003, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) sent a copy of the draft report to the Administrator for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with a request for written comments. The Administrator responded to us in a memorandum dated January 9, 2004. The DEA concurred with all of the recommendations, and agreed with the OIG that it could strengthen existing management procedures for evidence in the custody of its field divisions. The DEA also recognized that improving its custodial accountability will ensure integrity of evidence used in federal prosecutions resulting from DEA investigations. Our analysis of the DEA's response follows.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Recommendation 1: Implement the DEA Office of Inspections' four remaining evidence program recommendations by:

  1. Developing an Evidence Custodian Handbook,

  2. Requiring Evidence Custodians to use pre-printed logbooks,

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

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

Status: Resolved - Open.

Summary of DEA's Response: The DEA concurred with the recommendation and agreed to:

  1. Expand policy pertaining to the processing, storage, reporting and accounting of bulk drugs and non-drug evidence in the DEA Agents Manual to include more detailed instructions for Evidence Custodians, as well as field agents and task force officers. Establish an Operations Division website on DEA's intranet website to include a frequently-asked-questions section where DEA personnel can get answers to questions pertaining to evidence processing, storage, and reporting;

  2. Update policy pertaining to logbooks to mandate the use of pre-printed logbooks, incorporate the policy in the DEA Agents Manual, and send a teletype to the field offices providing guidance on acquiring pre-printed logbooks;

  3. Issue a teletype to the field reaffirming that the Operations Management's Policy and Procedures Section (OMM) is the headquarters office responsible for evidence handling questions and providing appropriate staff names and numbers, which also will be kept current on the Operations Division intranet website; and

  4. Develop a task list, learning objectives, lesson plans, and instructional materials for a new Evidence Custodian training program, and then pilot test the program with the appropriate assessments.

OIG's Analysis: We consider the recommendation resolved, but will keep it open until the DEA provides us with a copy of the following items:

  1. Expanded policy pertaining to the processing, storage, reporting and accounting of bulk drugs and non-drug evidence. Also, a copy of the Operations Division website and frequently asked questions section on the DEA's intranet website;

  2. Updated policy mandating the use of pre-printed logbooks;

  3. The teletype to the field reaffirming OMM as the headquarters office responsible for evidence handling questions; and

  4. The task list, learning objectives, lesson plans, and instructional materials for the pilot Evidence Custodian training program.

Recommendation 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.

Status: Resolved - Open.

Summary of DEA's Response: The DEA concurred with the recommendation and stated that all DEA entities are required to complete a division inspection annually. The DEA also requires that the Office of Inspections review the annual inspection reports when it conducts its On-Site Inspections every 36 months.

OIG's Analysis: We recognize that the DEA conducts annual inspections and reviews the result of those inspections when it conducts its On-Site Inspections every 36 months. We will keep the recommendation open until the DEA provides us with a copy of updated inspection guidance that verifies Evidence Custodians:

  1. Have expanded policy on the processing, storage, reporting, and accounting of bulk drugs and non-drug evidence,

  2. Use pre-printed logbooks,

  3. Have the appropriate staff names and numbers at OMM for evidence handling questions, and

  4. Attend appropriate Evidence Custod