Federal Bureau of Investigation Legal Attaché Program*
Report No. 04-18
Office of the Inspector General
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:
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