RESPONSE TO TASK FORCE QUESTIONNAIRE BY AGENCY OFFICIALS
|QUESTIONS||VERY SUCCESSFUL||SOMEWHAT SUCCESSFUL||LIMITED SUCCESS||NO
|(1) Coordination with participating agencies||3||2||1||2||1|
|(2) Overcome jurisdictional limitations||3||3||2||1|
|(3) Coordinate rural drug law enforcement with USAO and state/local prosecuting organizations||4||1||1||1||2|
|(4) Trained, deputized drug enforcement officers||3||2||1||2||1|
|(5) Provide additional resources||4||1||2||1||1|
|(6) Provide expertise on investigating drug related crime||3||3||2||1|
|(7) Gather intelligence||4||2||1||2|
|(8) Disseminate intelligence||4||2||1||1||1|
|(9) Utilize intelligence||2||4||1||2|
|(10) Target drug organizations||3||3||1||2|
|(11) Investigate high-level drug violators||2||4||1||2|
|(12) Immobilize violent drug traffickers||5||2||1||1|
|(13) Identify assets of drug traffickers||3||2||1||3|
|(14) Seize assets of drug traffickers||2||4||1||2|
|(15) Return portion of seized assets||4||2||1||2|
|(16) Develop VCTF into fully funded task force||3||1||1||1||3|
|(17) Manage day-to-day activities||4||1||1||2||1|
RESPONSES TO TASK FORCE QUESTIONNAIRE BY STATE AND LOCAL
LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
|QUESTIONS||VERY SUCCESSFUL||SOMEWHAT SUCCESSFUL||LIMITED SUCCESS||NO
|(1) Coordination with participating agencies||4||2||1||2|
|(2) Overcome jurisdictional limitations||5||4|
|(3) Coordinate rural drug law enforcement with USAO and state/local prosecuting organizations||5||2||2|
|(4) Trained, deputized drug enforcement officers||3||4||1||1|
|(5) Provide additional resources||6||1||2|
|(6) Provide expertise on investigating drug related crime||4||5|
|(7) Gather intelligence||6||2||1|
|(8) Disseminate intelligence||6||3|
|(9) Utilize intelligence||4||5|
|(10) Target drug organizations||1||8|
|(11) Investigate high-level drug violators||2||5||2|
|(12) Immobilize violent drug traffickers||1||6||2|
|(13) Identify assets of drug traffickers||1||7||1|
|(14) Seize assets of drug traffickers||2||5||2|
|(15) Return portion of seized assets||3||2||1||3|
|(16) Develop VCTF into fully funded task force||3||1||1||4|
|(17) Manage day-to-day activities||5||2||2|
U. S. Department of Justice
Executive Office for United States Attorneys
Office of the Director
Main Justice Building (202) 514-2121
I0th & Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
MAR 04 1998
MEMORANDUM FOR: Mary W. Demory
Assistant Inspector General
Donna A. Bucella
Review of the Tri-State Violent
Crime Task Force of the United States
Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland, Draft Report
This responds to your December 11, 1997, memorandum concerning several proposed recommendations for the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) in relation to the United States Attorneys' oversight of the Violent Crime Task Forces (VCTF).
The first recommendation suggests that EOUSA "issue guidance that establishes a clear and meaningful system of accountability that designates roles and responsibilities for program management and financial oversight by the United States Attorneys' offices and the EOUSA." At a meeting in November 1997, to discuss the review of the United States Attorney's for the District of Maryland, it was decided that a system of accountability of VCTFs would not be established until the Inspector General's Office has had the opportunity to complete reviews of VCTFs in several other districts. After reviews have been completed in three or additional districts, EOUSA will clarify policy regarding this concern.
A second recommendation was suggested, the EOUSA, "define the roles and responsibilities of the United States Attorneys office for the District of ,Maryland in the Tri-State VCTF program." As Presidential appointees, each United States Attorney establishes office policy based on various factors such as: size of the district, location, types of crimes, and personnel.
The EOUSA assists the United States Attorneys with administrative functions and in defining and administering Department of Justice policies and procedures. Consequently, we believe that the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, as the chief federal prosecutor, would be the best person to determine its roles and responsibilities in the VCTF.
CC: Frank Kalder
Deputy Director for Resource
Management and Planning
Associate Director for
U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Maryland
Lynne A. Battaglia Northern Division
United States Attorney 6625 United States Courthouse
101 West Lombard Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-2692
400 United States Courthouse
6500 Cherrywood lane
Greenbelt, MD 20770-1249
January 12, 1998
Mary W. Demory
Assistant Inspector General
Office of the Inspector General
U.S. Department of Justice
1425 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 6100
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Ms. Demory:
The report on the I-81 violent crimes task force issued by the Inspector General made five recommendations. You have asked for our response as to whether we agree or disagree with the recommendations, provide time frames for making specific changes; or state why the changes cannot be made.
The first recommendation:
1. Meet with state and local officials participating in the VCTF to assess the feasibility of continuing the task force as a fully funded project. In October of 1997 DEA Headquarters approved full funding for this task force. Administrative details are, currently being addressed so that the transition can occur before Violent Crime Task Force funds are spent.
2. Establish procedures to inform all VCTF participating agencies of task force activities and accomplishments. Initially, insofar as communication is a problem that the federal enforcement side of the equation can control, I believe the opening of a new DF-A office in Winchester, Virginia in October, 1997, has addressed these problems.
I also observe that "participating agencies" is the critical phrase in the IG's recommendation. As the survey reflects, the agencies that actively participated were happy with all aspects of the task force. Only two agencies had any negative responses. One was the Frederick county, Virginia, Sheriff and one was the Virginia State Police(VSP). The Virginia State Police noted, at page 8 of your report:
We maintain a full case load with our home task force that does not allow us to be more involved with the Tri-State VCTF. The DEA Special Agents are always available whenever assistance is requested, whether pertaining to a VCTF or our task force case. The DEA Special Agents are excellent in networking information, subpoena assistance and being available for investigative and court matters.
This statement goes a long way to convince me that this program is a complete success with all agencies that chose to participate and that is the only standard by which it should be judged.
3. Revise the overtime reporting form to include a space to identify case numbers or other identification for VCTF activities and require the state and local law enforcement organizations to submit a copy of the police officers' time and attendance sheets with their monthly invoices. These, recommendations will be implemented no later than February 1, 1998.
The last two recommendations in the report are directed at the Director of EOUSA - so I will not comment on them except to the extent that both four and five require that EOUSA define and issue guidance to this office relative to management and financial oversight. This office has done precisely what it was tasked to do. In light of the new funding through DEA, this office respectfully recommends that the DEA be tasked, as they were in the first instance, with that oversight responsibility.
With regard to any of the oversight recommendations, therefore, I would note the following:
1. On page one of the IG's report, the IG reported that in January of 1995 this office proposed the task force that would operate in three separate jurisdictions and would be managed by the DEA agents in the Hagerstown, Maryland office. The IG report assumes that this office would manage the task force, although that assumption was not supported by our proposal nor any criteria issued to us in setting up the task force.
2. On page seven of the IG's report, the last few sentences refer to the forming of a group of trained, deputized officers. On page 12 there is a comment by a local officer regarding "colocation." Not only was co-location not anticipated in the opening of this task force, but all of the local (small) departments were very clear that they could not expend the manpower for that kind of purpose.
A review of the IG's report informs me that this task force is a success in that it has attained everything that it set out to accomplish according to the guidelines we were given and the undertaking to which we committed.
Very Truly Yours,
Lynne A. Battaglia
United States Attorney
OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL'S ANALYSIS
OF MANAGEMENTS' RESPONSES
On December 11,1997, the Inspections Division sent copies of the draft report to the Director, Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA), and United States Attorney for the District of Maryland. We addressed five recommendations to EOUSA concerning the Tri-State Violent Crime Task Force. Instead of receiving responses to all of the recommendations from EOUSA, we received its response to recommendations four and five and a response from the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland for recommendations one, two and three. The United States Attorney also offered comments on recommendations four and five. Our analysis of the responses from the components follows.
1. Resolved-Open. The United States Attorney for the District of Maryland responded that in October 1997, DEA Headquarters approved full funding for this task force. The United States Attorney's response stated that administrative details were being addressed. Please inform the EOUSA when the necessary administrative details have been resolved and when you expect the transition to DEA to occur. Provide our office with a copy of the documentation to establish full funding for the task force.
2. Resolved-Open. The United States Attorney for the District of Maryland responded that the opening of a new DEA office in Winchester, Virginia, in October 1997, had addressed communication problems. We agree that the opening of a new DEA office in Winchester, Virginia, should improve coordination between DEA and the two organizations with negative evaluations of the task force. However, the United States Attorney's response does not indicate whether the new DEA Winchester Office will participate in the task force. To improve coordination and cooperation among all jurisdictions within the tri-state area we believe that the new DEA office and all of the original law enforcement agencies should continue to participate in the Tri-State VCTF.
The United States Attorney's response states that the participating agencies were happy with all aspects of the task force. A review of all the responses to the questionnaire on VCTF activities by the other state and local law enforcement agencies (see Appendices VI and VII) indicates there is room for improvement in the areas of coordination and communication of the task force's activities and accomplishments. Therefore, we believe that a mechanism or procedures, perhaps through the DEA offices, to inform all VCTF participating agencies of task force activities and accomplishments is needed. We would appreciate additional input by the United States Attorney on the recommendation to establish a more formal method of communicating the activities and accomplishments of the VCTF among the many participating agencies.
3. Resolved-Open. We agree with the corrective action promised by the United States Attorney. Please inform EOUSA and our office when corrective actions are expected to be completed and provide a copy of the revised overtime reporting form.
4. Resolved-Open. The EOUSA advised that it would address this recommendation after our office conducts inspections of three or four additional violent crime task forces. We would have preferred that EOUSA had provided guidance to the United States Attorneys' Offices to ensure implementation and oversight responsibility for the funded project was assigned to preclude problems caused by the lack of accountability.
5. Unresolved-Open. The response provided by the EOUSA will not remedy the weaknesses in the VCTF program that came to light during our inspection of the District of Maryland's VCTF. The following summarizes our view of the problem and the reasons EOUSA should provide additional guidance to the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland (and to all VCTF fund recipients with remaining funds to expend) that ensures responsibility for task force implementation and oversight is established.
In January 1995, the EOUSA requested that the United States Attorneys provide detailed plans for their districts' requirements if they were interested in obtaining a portion of the $15,000,000 funding for violent crime task forces, as provided in the United States Attorneys' Fiscal Year 1995 appropriation. Subsequently, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland requested funding to supplement the violent crime law enforcement efforts in the rural areas of Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. EOUSA responded with approval of $111,232 for the District of Maryland's VCTF. The approval memorandum from EOUSA to the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland described the funding approval process and provided guidance for accounting, reporting, and allowable use of the funds. It did not address implementation or oversight responsibility. Without such guidance it is not clear how EOUSA planned to ensure the objectives of the task force were met and that funding appropriated by Congress was spent as intended.
EOUSA's response to this recommendation states that "EOUSA assists the United States Attorneys with administrative functions and in defining and administering Department of Justice policies and procedures. Consequently, we believe that the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, as the chief federal prosecutor, would be the best person to determine its roles and responsibilities in the VCTF." The United States Attorney for the District of Maryland told our inspection team that EOUSA was a funding source for the VCTF and her office was a conduit for that funding. She believed that having "directorship of the task force was never an assumption of their responsibilities" and that it was "never the task of the United States Attorney's Office to monitor these task forces." However, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland retained responsibility for fiscal reporting to EOUSA and for submitting quarterly progress reports that described the accomplishments of the VCTF. The United States Attorney for the District of Maryland told us she believed that DEA was going to manage the daily activities of the task force. We found no formal agreement to that effect and the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by all participants did not assign implementation or oversight responsibility. Based on the Memorandum of Understanding and responses from the United States Attorney and EOUSA, it is clear that implementation and oversight responsibility for the VCTF has not been established. Even if DEA agrees to perform day-to-day management of the task force, we believe it would still be necessary for some entity to take responsibility for overall monitoring of the program.
In addition, it is unclear to us how the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland can retain some fiscal responsibility for the program but claim no oversight responsibility and still accurately report to Congress (quarterly, through EOUSA and the Justice Management Division) the activities of the VCTF. As we found during our review, because of weak internal controls and case file documentation, it was difficult to accurately determine whether VCTF funds were used to support the VCTF objectives. We request that EOUSA issue guidance that instructs the United States Attorneys' Offices to decide if they will retain or delegate--to a task force participating agency, such as DEA--implementation and oversight responsibilities. If the responsibility is delegated, we believe the decision should be formally agreed to and made a part of the Memorandum of Understanding.
1 The 80 percent is comprised of responses of "very successful," "somewhat successful," and "limited success."
2 The remaining 14 percent is comprised of responses of "do not know" and "not applicable."
3 On June 23, 1997, the Assistant State's Attorney for Maryland, informed us his office received the $55,000 for distribution to the local participants.