U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Columbia
OCT 26 1998
Assistant Inspector General
From: WILMA A. LEWIS
United States Attorney for the
District of Columbia
Subject: Response to the Review of the
Violent Crimes Task Forces
of the United States Attorneys Office for the District of Columbia,
Assignment Number A-97-25
I have received your report presenting the findings of the Office of the Inspector General's review of Violent Crime Task Forces in this Office. I found the report to provide a great deal of useful information about the Operation Ceasefire and Safe Streets accomplishments in the District of Columbia. Your report has also made it clear that changes must be made to our internal operating procedures with respect to management of these funds and our related responsibilities for overseeing their expenditure. We have included our response to each of the specific recommendations as set forth below.
We agree with this recommendation and will implement the following measures to ensure these recommendations will be carried out.
In the future, quarterly financial and progress reports for Operation Ceasefire and Operation Safe Streets funds, will be forwarded to EOUSA by the established deadline. It is our plan to submit the following quarterly financial and progress reports to EOUSA on or before October 27, 1998: July - September 1997 Quarterly Report; October - December 1997 Quarterly Report; January - March 1998 Quarterly Report; April - June 1998 Quarterly Report; and July - September 1998 Quarterly Report.
A correction has been made in the Financial Management Information System (FMIS) to reflect the purchase of the computers. A payment correction form will be completed in the amount of $18,424 to move the payment from our Offices direct cost center code to the Operation Ceasefire Violent Crime Task Force (VCTF) cost center code. Also, FMIS has also been updated to reflect the purchase of the fingerprint kits. The District of Columbia government purchased these kits and is awaiting reimbursement. Therefore, a reimbursable agreement has been prepared in the amount of $5,000. We will reimburse the District of Columbia government for the cost of the fingerprint kits on or before October 27, 1998.
We agree that any improper reimbursements made to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) should be recovered, but we will need to employ the services of an auditor to determine the total dollar amount of improper reimbursements.
The amount of $78,982 has been identified in your findings as paid in error for police overtime in the following categories:
- reimbursement was made to MPD for overtime charged to the Operation Cease-fire account for six police officers who were not assigned to Operation Ceasefire.
- reimbursement was made to MPD for overtime charged to the Operation Cease-fire account for incorrect calculation of overtime pay rates for five GRU officers.
- reimbursement was made to MPD for overtime charged to the Operation Cease-fire account for duplicate court appearance sheets for eight police officers.
- reimbursement was made to MPD for overtime charged to the Operation Cease-fire account for overtime claims for non-GRU activity.
- reimbursement was made to MPD for overtime charged to the Operation Cease-fire account for cases before Operation Cease-fire officially began on June 5, 1995.
MPD has contacted our Financial Officer concerning these contentions, and advised her that it does not agree that these amounts were paid in error.
We are not in a position to refute MPD's claim. Your report acknowledges that the complete records were not reviewed and the amount reflected in this finding represents a review of only a sampling of our Ceasefire accounting records. Thus, we propose that, in light of the large amount of money in question, and MPDs position that their claims for reimbursement were correct, that a complete audit be performed on all records in this category. We request that the IG conduct a complete audit of these records, including documentation to demonstrate any errors in charges or payments. Should your office be unable to provide this assistance to us, we will secure these services from an independent auditor under contract. We believe that this will be necessary in order to correct records and payments in these categories.
- Implement a monthly task force police officer overtime limit in accordance with EOUSA guidance.
- Submit GRU police officer overtime invoices monthly and include a copy of any arrest reports in the submission.
- Revise the overtime invoicing procedures to require GRU police officers to identify Operation Ceasefire cases on the court appearance sheet.
We disagree at this juncture that the remaining funds should be transferred into the overtime category, and instead prefer to use the funds for Office and Computer Equipment. Our office is the subgrant recipient of a Fiscal Year 1998 Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (LLEBG) Program Award. The LLEBG Program Award will be used to continue our Operation Ceasefire Initiative, and will include a substantial amount for police overtime as well as for equipment, technology and other materials. As we anticipate future equipment needs for Operation Ceasefire, our plan is to use the remaining VCTF funds for Ceasefire equipment needs, and LLEBG funds for police overtime.
We agree that a new reimbursement agreement should be established with the MPD which includes the provisions a) through c) above once the independent audit has been completed and the issues resolved. We also agree we should request that MPD provide the USAO with a list of the Operation Ceasefire officers' hourly overtime rates as well as the number of hours they can work per month and annually in order to stay within the overtime limitation per the VCTF Guidance Issuance, VC-95-03, dated May 31, 1995, entitled Questions and Answers. However, we will defer establishment of requirements for the reimbursement agreement with MPD for the LLEBG Program Award until after consultation with the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance and the D.C. Office of Grants Management and Development.
We agree with the above actions. We will implement measures to ensure these recommendations will be carried out. To this end, we have received additional resources to enhance our Operation Ceasefire Initiative, and will designate and train the new employee assigned to serve as the Operation Ceasefire property custodian on the property management responsibilities.
I appreciate the opportunity to respond to these findings and hope that the proposed corrective actions are acceptable to your Office. In addition, I would request the following two suggestions for inclusion in the final version of the IG report:
Suggested insertion for p.3 of the report entitled "Increase the Penalties for Individuals Convicted of Illegally Possessing Firearms:" In 1996, the USAO aggressively and successfully lobbied for an amendment to D.C. Code Section 23-1331(3) that allowed the USAO to seek pretrial detention for those charged with Carrying a Pistol without a License.
Suggested additional paragraph for p.12 of the report to be entitled "District of Columbia Code Title 23 Section 1131 Amended:" The USAO achieved another major legislative victory in 1996 when the Office aggressively and successfully fought for passage of an amendment to the Zero Tolerance for Guns Act, which enabled the USAO to request pretrial detention for defendants charged with Carrying a Pistol without a License (CPWL). Specifically, the amendment to D.C. Code Section 23-1331(3) added CPWL to the list of dangerous crimes enumerated in the statute. With this change, an Assistant United States Attorney can seek pretrial detention under Section 23-1322 in appropriate gun cases. This means that a defendant will be held without bond for 100 days until his trial, guilty plea or other disposition of the case.
I will await your reply as to whether or not we may receive additional assistance in expanding the audit to carefully examine all transactions related to overtime. If you have any questions, or if you would like to discuss this matter, you may contact me at 514-6600, or Thomas Motley, Principal Assistant United States Attorney at 514-6919.