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Federal Bureau of Investigation Legal Attaché Program*

Report No. 04-18
March 2004
Office of the Inspector General


REDACTED AND UNCLASSIFIED

Appendix VI

Federal Bureau of Investigation Response

 
Official seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation U.S. Department of Justice

Federal Bureau of Investigation

  Washington. D.C. 20535-0005

March 10, 2004



Ms. Carol S. Taraszka
Regional Audit Manager
U.S. Department of Justice
Chicago Regional Audit Office
Office of the Inspector General
500 W. Madison Street
Suite 3510A
Chicago, Illinois 60661

Dear Ms. Taraszka:

Reference is made to your memorandum, dated February 18, 2004, requesting the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) response to the Department of Justice (DOJ) , Office of the Inspector General (OIG), draft audit report titled. "The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Legal Attache Program." This memorandum requested that the FBI review and provide written comments on the six recommendations contained in the draft audit report, specifically indicating whether the FBI agrees or disagrees with each recommendation. Also, you requested that the FBI conduct a law enforcement sensitivity and classification review of this report, and have appropriate personnel sign the Record of Sensitivity and Classification Review form.

Enclosed are the FBI's written responses to the six recommendations made by your staff in the draft audit report, a copy of the draft audit report with appropriate sensitivity and classification review markings, and the signed Record of Sensitivity and Classification Review form. The FBI is in agreement with these recommendations and is currently taking corrective action to address the issues raised by your staff.

The format of the enclosed document identifies the DOJ OIG draft audit report's recommendations followed by the FBI executive management's response. The responses to the recommendations have been coordinated through the FBI's Inspection Division.

If you have any questions regarding the responses or if I can be of any further assistance, please contact me at (202) 3242901.


 

Sincerely,

original signed

Steven C. McCraw
Assistant Director
Inspection Division

 


FBI Response
to
DOJ OIG Draft Audit Report
Re: The Federal Bureau of Investigation's
Legal Attache Program


Chapter 3: Legat Investigative Activities

Ottawa Backlog Previously Reported by FBI Inspection Division

Recommendation Number 1, Page 38: We recommend that the FBI analyze the staffing level in Ottawa and initiate action to adjust the permanent staff levels commensurate with the workload.

Response: The Office of International Operations (OIO), International Operations Section (IOS), agrees that there is insufficient staffing at Legat Ottawa to address the demands of the existing workload; however, office space and other administrative issues beyond the FBI's control, as set forth below, have also contributed to the backlog. The IOS has consistently attempted to address the staffing issues in order to significantly reduce or eliminate the need for temporary duty staff. Unfortunately, the inability of the Department of State to identify commercial office space to create a law enforcement hub in Toronto has prevented the IOS from enhancing Ottawa, by placing two additional agents in Toronto who would have addressed a substantial portion of the leads now assigned at Ottawa.

Legat Ottawa is currently staffed by one Legal Attache and six Assistant Legal Attaches (ALATs), one of whom is located in a sub-office in Vancouver. As the OIG staff is already aware, the Fiscal Years (FY) 2002-2003 Counterterrorism Supplemental Appropriation included approval for a two ALAT/one Office Assistant (OA) sub-office to be located in Toronto. Despite the difficulties mentioned above, the IOS intends to deploy the approved positions directly to Ottawa. In October 2003, Legat Ottawa advised that sufficient space is available in the existing office space to accommodate this increase in personnel. It is anticipated that the personnel will be selected and deployed by mid-Summer 2004, The IOS believes that this infusion of personnel will significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the backlog of work in Legat Ottawa.
Controls Over Temporary Duty Travel

Recommendation Number 2, Page 38: We recommend that the FBI implement a process that ensures that FBI personnel obtain country clearances before they travel to foreign countries on official business, and develop a system that ensures complete records of these clearances are maintained.

Response: The OIO, IOS agrees with the OIG's assessment of the policy underlying the need for all FBI field office and FBI Headquarters travelers to request and obtain country clearance in advance of foreign travel. Information regarding the process for obtaining country clearance, and other applicable policies, is readily available and accessible to all employees on the OIO web page. Since early 2003, the IOS has transmitted a semi-annual electronic communication (EC) to all employees reminding them of the need for country clearance and again setting forth the process.

Each Legat office plays a significant role in the country clearance process. They receive the request from the traveler, interact with the Ambassador to obtain concurrence for the travel, and advise the traveler of the approvals. The maintenance of accurate records and control files established in each Legat office are assessed as part of each Legat's performance appraisal. Record-keeping with regard to country clearances is no exception. The IOS responds routinely to Congressional inquiries where such information is needed and relies on the Legats to provide comprehensive statistical data in support of the IOS responses, Whenever a Legat identifies individual employees who have traveled to their area of responsibility without country clearance, the Legat notifies the IOS in order that remedial action may be undertaken with the effected field office or headquarters division.

According to Legat Ottawa, between 500 and 600 requests for country clearance are processed for travel to Canada per calendar year. The IOS has identified a technical issue regarding the number of failures to obtain country clearances as set forth in the OIG' s report, and the true extent of the problem as indicated by Legat Ottawa. According to the OIG, there were 135 vouchers submitted for travel to Canada during a two and one-half year period where no country clearances could be located. From the list of 135, a random sample of 42 travel vouchers for 29 employees was examined by IOS. Each employee was contacted via email and requested to identify the file number and serial number of the communication in which they requested country clearance. In fact, for 74 percent of the voucher submissions, country clearance communications were identified by the employee and provided to IOS. A review of these communications revealed that each one was addressed to Legat Ottawa. It is clear that the appropriate protocols to obtain country clearance had been observed by the traveler, but that the records at Legat Ottawa and at the sub-office in Vancouver were inaccurate, Presuming an across-the board error rate of 74 percent, the original figure of 135 reflected in the OIG report is reduced to 35 voucher submissions in two and one-half years for which there is no accompanying country clearance request, While not statistically significant when compared to the number of official visitors during the same period, OIO, IOS acknowledges the need to strive for 100 percent compliance with existing protocols for international travel. The IOS will continue to monitor this issue with all Legat offices to ensure that FBI employees traveling internationally comply with established procedures.

The OIG report does highlight the need for the OIO, IOS to reinforce the need for each individual Legat to ensure that administrative controls are in place, and are vigilantly enforced to provide the FBI and any other oversight entity an accurate assessment of compliance with country clearance requirements. Moreover, the travel of official visitors to any Legat's territory invariably requires staffing support from the Legat hosting the official delegation. As such, these official visits account for an insignificant element of a Legats workload, especially in our closest allied nations, such as Canada and Great Britain, where Legats host an exceptional number of official visits each year. An accurate accounting is of critical importance for IOS' reporting to Congress. The IOS has prepared a communication to each Legat office to remind them of the importance of keeping accurate records and maintaining control files, and will work with the Inspection Division to ensure these control files are reviewed for compliance during each Legat inspection.

On average, more than 2,500 country clearance requests are handled by the 46 Legat offices per year. This number is expected to rise as more new Legat offices are established. These requests may range from visitors for case specific investigative reasons to travel by the Director, his staff and his security detail for high level meetings with embassy and foreign officials. The centralization at FBI Headquarters of country clearance processing was attempted by the IOS in the year 2000 without success. Insufficient resources exist in IOS to ensure adequate processing of requests, and it was determined that inserting a bureaucratic layer between the requestor and the Legat responsible for obtaining the country clearance was redundant and overly cumbersome. In addition, many more requests were lost, delayed, or improperly handled, and FBI Headquarters management ultimately saw no added value in making the process more bureaucratic, rather than less so. As a result, the system currently in place was determined to be the most effective and efficient method of processing country clearance requests.

Recommendation Number 3, Page 38: We recommend that the FBI direct the Inspection Division (INSD) to review compliance with country clearance requirements during its inspections.

Response: The Office of Inspections, INSD agrees with the OIG's recommendation that compliance with country clearance requirements be reviewed during inspections. To ensure field divisions have complied with the requirements set forth in the Department of State, Justice, and Treasury Memorandum of Understanding on Chief of Mission (COM) Authority, the INSD will review all official business related foreign travel by FBI personnel assigned to the field office during on-site inspections. As part of the on-site financial audit, all travel vouchers submitted for foreign travel will be identified and a representative sample will be reviewed. Documentation supporting the authority for foreign travel will be examined to determine whether proper authority was obtained from the Assistant Director in Charge (ADIC) or Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the field division, the Assistant Director (AD) of the corresponding FBI Headquarters division, and the Legal Attache who was responsible for obtaining the country clearance from the COM of the destination country prior to the commencement of travel.

FBI citations addressing country clearance requirements are found in the Manual of Investigative Operations and Guidelines Part I, Section 23-8.2. This citation states that "prior to travel by any FBI employee to a foreign country to conduct any official business country clearance must be obtained." Additionally, an EC, dated July 27, 2000, was sent to all FBI Headquarters divisions and field offices which states that "the authority for all official international travel must be obtained in an EC approved by: the ADIC/SAC of the field division, the AD of the corresponding FBI Headquarters division, and the Legal Attache who obtains the country clearance from the U.S. Ambassador/COM of the destination country."

Chapter 4: Liaison Activities Were Effective at the Legal Attache Offices Reviewed

Details of Liaison Activity and Accomplishments by Office

Recommendation Number 4, Page 54: We recommend that the FBI ensure the Buffalo field office and all FBI offices coordinate their training and investigative activities involving Canadian authorities with the Ottawa Legat.

Response: The OIO, IOS agrees with this recommendation and has already addressed this matter prior to the OIG issuing this recommendation in the draft audit report. The OIO, IOS discussed this matter with SAC Buffalo who advised that the Director recently approved "Border Liaison Office" (BLO) status for the Buffalo field office. This status permits Special Agents assigned to the Buffalo field office to travel approximately 50 miles into Canada for routine investigative matters. These matters would not normally be addressed by the Legat because of their low priority. SAC Buffalo advised that this limited travel into Canada is coordinated with Legat Ottawa, who is provided with summary information concerning the need for the travel. Legat Ottawa has confirmed that SAC Buffalo is coordinating this travel with the Legat office.

Outside of the National Academy (NA), the FBI does not provide training to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a highly skilled, modem law enforcement agency. According to the NA Training Unit at the FBI Academy, SAC Buffalo is permitted to recommend NA participants from within the Canadian territory covered by the Buffalo BLO. This policy has been in effect for a number of years. According to both SAC Buffalo and Legat Ottawa, the selection of the NA candidates is coordinated to avoid duplication. In addition, the Detroit, Seattle, and Minneapolis field offices also work with Legat Ottawa to occasionally nominate and process candidates for the FBI NA. According to the NA Training Unit, this arrangement has met with great success, and there is excellent coordination between the field offices and Legat Ottawa.

Chapter 7: Selection and Training of Legal Attache Staff

Pre-Deployment and Foreign Language Training for Lent Staff

Recommendation Number 5, Page 82: We recommend that the FBI implement the FBI INSD's recommendations contained in their July 2003 report titled, Legat Attache Pre-Deployment Training: An Evaluation of the Preparation of FBI Personnel for Overseas Assignment (see Appendix V), and provide us with details about the actions taken.

Response: The OIO, IOS agrees with the recommendations contained in the INSD's report and has taken the following actions to implement these recommendations:

  1. Develop a comprehensive course evaluation instrument. Action: Implemented in August 2003. Each participating employee now completes an evaluation of both the instruction and content of the training.
  1. That FBI Headquarters substantive divisions (Counterterrorism, Criminal Investigative, Counterintelligence and Cyber) provide substantive briefings to out-going Legat personnel. Action: Implemented in August 2003. All of the FBI Headquarters substantive divisions now provide Legat specific comprehensive briefings to our outgoing personnel.
  1. That OIO request the briefings mentioned at number two via formal EC. Action: Implemented August 2003. An EC is now transmitted to each division requesting the appropriate briefings one month in advance of the training dates. The EC includes such information as the employee's name and their Legat office of assignment.
  1. That the Administrative Services Division (ASD) identify space for an OIO classroom facility and simulated Legat Office, and that Finance Division (FD) identify funding for same. Action: IOS has been working with ASD to identify space within FBIHQ which can be converted into a classroom facility and simulated Legat office. IOS, working with the FD), has identified funding resources for this project.
  1. That additional training personnel be assigned to the Legat Pre-Deployment Training initiative by the Training Division (TI)). Action: IOS has requested the TD to provide additional personnel. The TI intends to request the necessary resources to increase its staffing in order to supplement the training.
  1. That personnel selected for Legat vacancies who have no prior Legat experience be provided with training in an established Legat office. Action: Implemented August 2003. To date, Legats with no prior Legat experience have been trained in existing Legat offices. Two recently selected Legats with no prior Legat experience are scheduled for training in an established Legat office within the next two months. To supplement this training, IOS also provides an overlap of approximately one month between the incumbent and the incoming Legat. This enables the incumbent to provide training, guidance, and information relating to Legat specific procedures and initiatives, and also ensures the smooth introduction of the new Legat to existing liaison contacts.
  1. That the Language Services Section (LSS) advise the IOS of the amount of time needed for training in the identified critical languages. Action: The LSS researched the issue of critical language skills and determined the amount of time needed for language training in critical languages. According to LSS, each of the critical languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Arabic) requires two years of full-time intensive language instruction in order to achieve a speaking level sufficient to enable the employee to carry on routine business and social discussions. Language training in other difficult languages, such as Russian, Czech, Romanian, Urdu, and Pashtu, are 44 week courses. However, removal of a talented and valuable Special Agent investigator for such an extensive time period is not without a downside; specifically, a one or two year hiatus from investigative duties may result in an adverse impact on both investigative skills and current terrorism knowledge, both of which are critical to success in the posts where these languages are necessary. Thus, there must be a continual balancing between the benefit to the FBI of deploying a Legat or ALAT with the language skills, versus the actual ability of the employee to be successful in the Legat or ALAT position without the desired language skills. Because of this dilemma, IOS attempts to select employees for these positions who already have basic language skills or who may be heritage language speakers, thereby reducing the need for extended language training prior to deployment.
  1. That the information provided at number 7 be utilized by OIO to prioritize, advertise and select Legat personnel for those offices with critical language needs. Action: Implemented August 2003. Prior to August 2003, it was the established IOS policy to select replacements for projected vacancies one year in advance of the vacancy; however, this policy was difficult to implement due to a lack of available staffing within the IOS. Beginning in mid-summer 2003, IOS began a concerted effort to realign staffing to comply with its own internal policy. From that time until the established FBI management selection system was shut down in October 2003, pending the implementation of the new system, IOS selected replacements for all projected Legat and ALAT vacancies though the end of calendar year 2004. Recently, the independent Legat Selection System Review Group recommended that selection of Legat personnel be moved forward to l8 months in advance of the projected vacancy to facilitate language training when necessary. IOS agrees that advancing the selection process would improve the ability to provide language training to employees without language skills, and has formulated a plan to implement this recommendation when the new management selection system becomes operational in March 2004.
  1. That all personnel receiving language training be required to provide evaluations of the training received, and then tested to determine their level of proficiency. Action: Implemented August 2003. The LSS requires evaluation feedback from employees who attend the various forms of language training. In addition, those who complete intensive language training in advance of deployment to an overseas assignment are tested for proficiency.
  1. That the Employee Assistance Unit, ASD, in cooperation with FD, develop and implement a mental health program for Legat personnel. Action: The ASD intends to request an enhancement of personnel and resources in the FY 2006 budget submission. The FD is awaiting this proposal.
  1. That the FD identify and reallocate resources to support mental health services for the Legat Program. Action: Because this is not a critical unfunded program, the FD is awaiting the ASD FY 2006 budget submission where the enhancements for EAU will be included.
Some Legat Staff Remain Abroad For Long Periods of Time

Recommendation Number 6, Page 82: We recommend that the FBI adhere to its limits on overseas tours of duty and keep exceptions to these limits to a minimum.

Response: The OIO, IOS agrees with this recommendation. Beginning in May 2003, procedures were put in place to ensure that Legats and ALATs do not remain overseas beyond the five year limitation, absent the exigent needs of the FBI. Since that time, two three-month extensions beyond the approved five years have been granted to Legats who were involved in time specific initiatives. One of these was due to participation in a trial in the foreign country, and the other was due to hosting the annual FBI National Academy Associates Re-Trainer in the foreign country. At the conclusion of the initiative, both employees effected their transfer back to the U.S. In fact, since May 2003, IOS management has denied four requests for extensions (six months or one year) to a number of Legats and ALATs because the request did not meet the established criteria.

From time-to-time, the IOS does permit Office Assistants (OAs) to extend beyond the normal five year tour limitation, but only if they volunteer and are selected for a position in a hard-to-fill post, which is normally a two or three year tour of duty. These are the least desirable of the Legat offices, where repeated postings of the OA vacancy resulted in no qualified applicants. Only after a minimum of two such unsuccessful vacancy postings does IOS consider the selection of an OA who has already been abroad for five years. In these limited cases, IOS ensures that the OA will not be at the new post beyond the initial two or three year tour of duty.

* BECAUSE THIS REPORT CONTAINED INFORMATION CLASSIFIED AS "SECRET" BY THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, WE REDACTED (WHITED OUT) THAT INFORMATION FROM THE VERSION OF THE REPORT THAT IS BEING PUBLICLY RELEASED. WHERE SUCH INFORMATION WAS REDACTED IS NOTED IN THE REPORT.

REDACTED AND UNCLASSIFIED