Review of the Office of International Affairs' Role
in the International Extradition of Fugitives
Report Number I-2002-008
Our review of 58 cases disclosed that OIA's effectiveness in processing and managing an extradition request was inconsistent, depending upon the stage in the extradition process and the status of any pending actions. In most of these cases, OIA was effective during the initial review of the extradition request when it ensured that the request met treaty requirements and satisfied other legal and diplomatic obligations. OIA also provided support during the extradition procedures once a fugitive was apprehended. For the cases we reviewed, we also found that OIA met extradition deadlines. OIA's attention to an extradition request diminished, however, after it had taken these actions. With few exceptions, we found that OIA did not review cases to determine whether follow up was needed or to ensure OIA had taken all action it should have taken on the cases. This failure to fully manage the extradition process and individual extradition cases occurred primarily because OIA has not established clear objectives for case management, has not developed procedures for reviewing cases, has not developed standards for case files, and has not incorporated the use of an automated case tracking system in its case management process. Without these basic management procedures, OIA cannot ensure that all appropriate actions have been taken on each extradition case.
OIA is not Managing its Extradition Cases
Our review of 58 extradition cases showed that in most cases OIA is effective when it first receives the requests for an extradition or a provisional arrest from U.S. and foreign officials. For the cases we reviewed, we found that OIA processed new extradition requests promptly and ensured that USAOs met provisional arrest deadlines. We found that if the extradition documents were complete, OIA transmitted them promptly to the country or USAO responsible for taking the next action. If the documents from a foreign government were not complete, OIA requested that the country provide additional information. If documents from the USAOs were incomplete, OIA advised them of the information needed and provided assistance to ensure the package was complete. When these new requests resulted in a fugitive's apprehension, OIA generally followed through during litigation and surrender.
We found that once OIA's initial review had been completed, it would move on to new extradition requests and other requests that required immediate attention. Unless prompted by an inquiry or receipt of additional information or documents from an official involved with the extradition, OIA did not review pending cases or follow up on the status of actions pertaining to the cases. In some cases, we also found that OIA did not always act on new information pertaining to a pending extradition or promptly respond to an inquiry from a prosecutor or foreign official.
Although it is reasonable for extradition cases to remain open for many years because of legal or diplomatic issues, we found that many cases remained open due to inattention. According to OIA staff, they did not follow up on cases because of the steady receipt of new extradition cases that required their immediate attention, the large volume of cases assigned to each attorney made follow up not feasible, and OIA's view that it was not OIA's responsibility to initiate follow up on pending cases. 18 According to OIA officials, U.S. and foreign investigators, prosecutors, and officials are responsible for monitoring their extradition cases and for initiating any action needed to further the extradition. OIA's responsibility was only to facilitate the action requested by the U.S. and foreign officials.
OIA's actions in the extradition process can significantly affect the progress made by law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in an extradition case. In addition to providing legal advice, OIA receives and provides time-sensitive and critical information on the status of specific activities pertaining to an extradition case. Extradition cases can involve many federal and foreign law enforcement agencies - each with different responsibilities in the process. As events pertaining to an extradition unfold, information that can affect these agencies' decisions may not always be communicated to the appropriate agencies. Our review disclosed cases where there was a lack of communication among the law enforcement agencies when pursuing the extradition of a fugitive. Through timely follow up, OIA can be pivotal to the success of an extradition. Thus, when foreign and U. S. law enforcement agencies and prosecutors do not contact OIA regarding the pending extradition, we believe OIA should follow up in a reasonably timely manner with the appropriate agencies to determine the status of the cases and ensure that the appropriate prosecutors and law enforcement agencies have the most current information.
For 34 of the 58 extradition cases we reviewed, OIA could have taken additional action to facilitate the extraditions if it had reviewed the cases and followed up with foreign and U.S. prosecutors or responded to previous requests that went unanswered. The types of actions that OIA could have taken included closing cases in a more timely fashion, determining the status of requests for additional information pertaining to an extradition, responding to requests for information about the status of the case from USAOs, and notifying foreign and U. S law enforcement agencies of case-related developments. We found that OIA missed opportunities to gather and provide information that may have advanced the extradition effort. This occurred because OIA has not implemented specific management practices to ensure timely and effective review and disposition of each pending case.
The following cases illustrate lost opportunities to facilitate an extradition that can occur without sufficient case management procedures.
Incoming Extradition Request
A South American country submitted an extradition request in 1991 for a fugitive believed to be in the United States who was wanted for the rape and molestation of juveniles. OIA found the request deficient and promptly returned it in early 1991, requesting additional supporting documentation. The requesting country returned the supporting documentation OIA requested in July 1993. In August 1993, OIA again returned the request because it still did not meet United States legal requirements. According to information in the case file, in July 1995, USMS located the fugitive. In April 1997, the requesting country once again submitted an amended extradition request. However, we found no evidence that OIA had made contact with the country between August 1993 and 1997 even after the USMS notified OIA in 1995 that it had located the fugitive.
In 1997 OIA again returned the request. This time, OIA specified that "almost all of the prior deficiencies have been corrected. However, there is still one area in which the documentation is still lacking." In July 1997, INTERPOL contacted OIA regarding the status of the extradition request. This is the last evidence of any action on this case. This case is still open at OIA.
In this case, OIA should have promptly notified the foreign country that the USMS had located the fugitive and determined whether the foreign country had the information needed to resolve the legal deficiencies of the extradition request. Over a period of approximately ten years, OIA promptly critiqued the sporadic extradition submissions, but did not actively determine the foreign government's interest in pursuing the extradition when a critical event occurred in the case, the location of the fugitive in 1995.
OIA should have procedures that require OIA staff to establish a timeline for checking on the status of pending cases to ensure appropriate action has been completed. For example, in the case we examined in the following box, OIA did not respond when the country requested more information regarding a fugitive wanted by the United States. This oversight was not detected for more than two years.
Outgoing Extradition Request
A USAO sought to extradite a fugitive wanted for marijuana trafficking. The foreign country repeatedly asked OIA to provide documents so that the United States' request could be processed. OIA did not respond. After about two years of asking, an OIA attorney apologized to the country for the delay and asked that it provide OIA with the copies of the documents initially sent because they were missing from the OIA file. OIA had not informed the USAO that the foreign country needed additional documents and the USAO did not know the extradition request was not accepted. Though all documents were eventually provided to the foreign country, the case file shows that there is a chance that the Ministry of Justice may now refuse to process the request because of the delay in receiving the requested information.
From documentation in other case files, we found instances where it appeared that either no additional actions were feasible to further the extradition cases or all possible actions had already been taken. When OIA has determined after consultation with the USAOs and foreign governments that there are no additional actions to take in extradition cases, OIA should close the cases. One of OIA's country teams implemented an effective practice of routinely discussing all pending cases with the foreign government. The country team that processes the extradition cases involving Mexico meets periodically with Mexican officials to discuss the status of each pending case. At this time, the OIA and Mexican officials identify the cases that should remain open and those that should be closed. These periodic reviews are an effective practice for prioritizing the most important cases and closing others.
In some instances, we also saw documentation that a case was deemed closed by OIA even though OIA did not officially close it for several years. For example, the following case could have been closed years earlier and removed from OIA's workload. This case remained open for five years, even though the requesting country failed to respond in 1994 or 1996 by indicating that it was still interested in the case.
Incoming Extradition Request
|In May 1994, a European country requested the provisional arrest of a fugitive wanted for fraud who was believed to be in the United States. OIA promptly reviewed the extradition request and asked that the requesting country provide an exact location for the fugitive so that the USMS would be able to apprehend him. According to the OIA case file, the country did not provide any additional location information. OIA did not contact the country until September 1996 when it advised the country that because the fugitive could not be located, the matter was considered closed. Furthermore, OIA asked that if the requesting country was still interested, it should contact OIA within 60 days. Again, the country did not respond to OIA's correspondence. However, OIA did not close the case until November 1999. Though OIA reacted in a timely manner to the original provisional arrest request, it did not follow-up for over two years. Even when it gave the requesting country a deadline to express continued interest in the extradition request, OIA did not close the case until over three years after the 60-day deadline had passed.|
In instances where a specific item of information from the requester, such as a fugitive's location, has been requested and is not forthcoming, closing the case will help alleviate OIA's case management and tracking responsibilities. Closing cases when nothing more can be done produces accurate statistics for management oversight by OIA, the Criminal Division, the Department, and Congress.
Each attorney in OIA has a large extradition caseload - averaging approximately 150 cases. With this size caseload, cases can be overlooked when there is a lack of case management procedures. The lack of periodic review was a particular problem when attorneys responsible for extradition cases transfer to another team or leave OIA. We found that newly assigned attorneys did not review the cases to determine their status and whether any action was needed. Consequently, we found cases were overlooked, as in the following example:
Incoming Extradition Request
|OIA received an extradition request in 1992 from a European country for a fugitive wanted for forgery and fraud. The country also requested a provisional arrest of the fugitive. After nine months in which there was no apparent activity on the part of the United States, the requesting country contacted OIA and inquired why the fugitive had not been arrested. The case file shows that OIA responded that the case had "fallen through the cracks" after the original OIA attorney to whom the case has been assigned had left the office.|
The following incoming extradition case demonstrates how the lack of effective case management procedures pertaining to timely follow up on significant case activities can affect OIA's ability to perform its mission. In addition, the following case demonstrates the need to fully use law enforcement information systems to locate fugitives sought by foreign countries and the need for OIA to explore ways to incorporate checks of law enforcement information systems (e.g., INS systems and NCIC) in regular reviews of its pending cases.
The following case also demonstrates that law enforcement agencies may not always carry out all of their responsibilities pertaining to the arrest and prosecution of a fugitive. In this case, the USAO had an arrest warrant issued but the fugitive was not located, and the USMS did not enter the warrant into NCIC. Moreover, the USAO did not notify OIA that the fugitive was not arrested and OIA did not determine the status of the case or inform the foreign country that the fugitive was not located. We found through an NCIC check that the fugitive committed a violent crime while in the United States, was arrested, sentenced, and released from prison.
Incoming Extradition Request
|Case File Review -- In May 1992, OIA received a provisional arrest request for a fugitive who had been sentenced to nine years imprisonment for his conviction on cocaine importation charges in a European country. The fugitive, a Jamaican citizen, fled the requesting country prior to his incarceration. This foreign government believed the fugitive to be in New York City, so in July 1992 OIA forwarded the provisional arrest request to the USAO to obtain an arrest warrant. The OIA case file indicated that in August 1992 the fugitive had not yet been located. The next action documented in the case file occurred in February 1993 when OIA forwarded to the USAO additional documents supporting the provisional arrest, which were recently received from the requesting country. There was no documentation in the case file indicating why the country sent additional documentation seven months after the original request. We found an adhesive note in the case file that read, "Warrant was Issued Mar[ch] 12, 1993." We found no additional documentation after that date in the case file or ETS. We spoke with the USAO regarding the warrant because there was no indication in the file whether it was served. The USAO informed us that the USMS was unable to serve the warrant because the fugitive was not at the location specified by the requesting country. In addition, the USMS never entered the arrest warrant into NCIC. There is no indication in the case file that OIA ever followed up with the USAO or USMS to determine whether the fugitive was arrested - a significant event in the extradition process. Nor did OIA follow up with the foreign government regarding the status of the extradition. OIA relied on U.S. and foreign law enforcement agencies to take the appropriate actions and did not believe follow up was necessary. OIA, however, should follow up with these agencies when information is not received after a significant event occurs. In addition to providing timely feedback, it is possible that OIA's follow up would have detected that the USMS did not enter the arrest warrant into NCIC. There had been no activity on this case since 1993 and the case remains open.
Interview -- We interviewed the OIA attorney currently assigned to this case (he was not the attorney assigned to the case in 1993) to determine whether OIA had additional information regarding this case that was not in the file. The attorney could not provide any additional information. The attorney stated he found the information in the case file to be adequate and that if he wanted to determine the case status, he would contact the foreign government to determine whether it was still interested in pursuing this extradition.
OIG Database Searches -- During our review, we searched the NCIC database and found that this fugitive had been arrested in August 1993 in Okaloosa County, Florida, for attempted homicide. This arrest occurred five months after the warrant was issued for the fugitive's arrest in the extradition case. The fugitive pleaded guilty to aggravated battery with a firearm and was sentenced in December 1993 to three years incarceration in state prison. We also searched the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) Central Index System (CIS) to determine whether this fugitive had come in contact with the INS, since OIA documentation indicated he was not a U.S. citizen. According to CIS, the fugitive was ordered removed based on violations of immigration law because of his state conviction. He was removed from Miami in November 1996, presumably to Jamaica. There is no indication that OIA was aware of this INS removal.
OIA does not match information pertaining to United States and foreign extradition requests with law enforcement information systems such as NCIC because it does not have access to them. Unless a Red Notice or extradition warrant 19 is issued, U.S. law enforcement authorities that come in contact with the fugitive separate from the extradition would not be aware of the extradition. Although we were told that OIA might query the INS regarding a fugitive's immigration status, we were also told that it is not a common practice.
We also found several instances when OIA's review of an extradition request did not detect deficiencies in the legal requirements of extradition requests before transmitting the documents to the USAOs or foreign governments. Our review of the 58 case files disclosed that 9 files had information showing that OIA country teams reviewed and sent cases forward that did not meet legal requirements of the United States or foreign governments. OIA does not have procedures in place to ensure that each case receives an adequate legal sufficiency review, and as a result there were occasions in which cases that did not meet legal standards were forwarded to the USAO or foreign country. For example, case files showed that USAOs rejected cases sent to them by OIA because there were substantial probable cause problems. Foreign countries also rejected cases because dual criminality was absent. Two of three AUSAs we interviewed, who served as International and National Security Coordinators for their USAOs, were critical of OIA legal advice and the completeness of the cases sent to them. 20
OIA's Associate Directors told the OIG that they meet with team members to discuss extradition cases. However, they do not routinely review cases to assess whether cases are complete before OIA sends them to either the foreign country or USAO for action. Without reviewing case files, Associate Directors may not even be aware that cases were returned to OIA because they were deficient. Routine supervisory review of the work performed by subordinates is a standard management practice that provides managers with some assurance that cases are processed in accordance with laws, regulations, treaties, and procedural requirements.
Case management procedures become more critical as the average number of cases pending at the end of each year per attorney has grown from 80 in 1990 to 153 in 2000. Although OIA performs the initial review of extradition requests promptly, it does not have procedures that ensure cases receive appropriate attention while pending. With an increasing pending caseload, standard policies and procedures for case management are needed so that cases are prioritized for timely follow up. OIA should also develop a systematic method of determining when OIA staff and supervisors should review a case. Each time OIA completes an action on an extradition request, a follow-up action date should be established so that cases can be reviewed. OIA attorneys could determine time frames for follow up based on the priority of the case, whether the case is legally complete, or whether there is continued interest by the foreign country or USAO. In addition, these procedures would detect matters that may have been overlooked, errors in judgment, overlooked action or follow up on prior actions, and possible new strategies for resolving extradition cases. OIA also has not developed internal policies, procedures, or standards that delineate staff responsibilities or communicate management's expectations for processing extraditions. Therefore, OIA is not assured that attorneys explicitly understand that their responsibilities include effectively managing their pending cases in a manner that facilitates the extradition process. These types of policies and procedures would ensure that OIA attorneys actively manage cases and make conscious decisions on the status of the case, ensure appropriate actions have been taken, and establish a review date to reassess the status of the case.
The United States Criminal Justice Extradition Process Limits OIA's Ability to Help Extradite a Fugitive
As described in the United States Attorneys' Manual, OIA advises and assists U.S. law enforcement personnel and prosecutors on options for capturing and apprehending a fugitive if the extradition request is not viable or the fugitive cannot be located in the foreign country. For example, OIA can recommend that prosecutors revise the extradition request, modify criminal charges, or work with the prosecutor and the Department of State to seek deportation. OIA can also advise law enforcement personnel and prosecutors on the use of Interpol Red Notices. OIA is aware that the decision to extradite is costly and must be weighed by the U.S. agencies.
When a fugitive is believed to be in the United States and the extradition request submitted by a foreign country is deficient or the specific location of the fugitive is not known, OIA staff said they have few options to assist foreign governments achieve extradition or advise law enforcement agencies of the pending extradition. If the extradition request does not meet treaty requirements or other U.S. standards, OIA can inform the foreign country of the deficiency. However, OIA staff told the OIG that it is up to the foreign country to determine its next course of action. If the extradition request is viable but the location of the fugitive is not known, it is the responsibility of the foreign government to provide the correct location. If the location is unknown, an arrest warrant in the United States will not be issued. Meanwhile, fugitives wanted for very serious crimes remain at large in the United States.
If local law enforcement agencies detain or arrest an individual for a crime committed while in the United States, law enforcement agencies have no way to determine whether the individual is a fugitive wanted for extradition in a foreign country unless the foreign country issues a Red Notice or a U.S. arrest warrant has been issued. OIA has no means to alert law enforcement agencies of a pending extradition. Without a mechanism to alert U.S. law enforcement agencies of the pending extradition, fugitives can remain undetected even if arrested, incarcerated, and released.
In some instances, OIA may have information that would indicate a fugitive is an alien and may be in the United States illegally. For these cases, OIA could notify the INS and the INS could determine whether the fugitive should be deported. However, our interviews with OIA attorneys indicated that they rarely refer information to the INS.
As of November 2000, OIA had pending extradition requests for over 1,000 fugitives believed to be in the United States. 21 Most of these fugitives were wanted for serious crimes, including violent crimes. If the incoming extradition request does not meet all treaty requirements, the United States may not have any basis for alerting law enforcement agencies. However, if the incoming extradition request meets the legal requirements of the treaty but the fugitive's location is not known, U.S. lookout systems should enable law enforcement agencies to be alerted to notify OIA if the fugitive is arrested or located.
For 28 incoming extradition requests we reviewed, we selected 26 fugitives and ran NCIC checks to determine whether the fugitive committed crimes after the extradition request had been received by OIA. Through a comparison of names, aliases, dates and places of birth and other details, we found 4 matches. Thus, potentially 4 of the 26 fugitives were arrested for various crimes committed while in the United States.
For incoming extradition requests that involve a fugitive who is not a U.S. citizen, OIA can coordinate with the INS to determine whether INS can deport the fugitive. In other instances, no procedure exists for OIA to alert U.S. law enforcement agencies of the pending extradition. OIA should meet with representatives from the FBI to determine whether fugitive information can be entered into NCIC in those cases in which the extradition request is viable but the location of the fugitive is not known. OIA should also request arresting agencies to enter U.S. arrest warrants into NCIC when fugitives are not immediately arrested after the warrant is issued.
OIA has not Developed Standards for Maintaining its Extradition Case Files
As the central point of contact for extradition requests, OIA receives documents and information that comprise the official record of the extradition effort. OIA receives the official extradition documents, such as the transmittals and certifications; legal documents, such as affidavits; and other required records, such as the address or location of the fugitive. OIA also receives correspondence, diplomatic information, and intelligence information, including classified information, from the Department of State, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and other sources. In addition, OIA receives information through telephonic contacts, telexes, and other informal methods of communication.
OIA is responsible for processing the extradition case information and maintaining the information so that the agencies involved in the extradition will receive relevant information. To be a comprehensive record of actions related to the extradition, OIA's files should include all information about the cases. To effectively provide advice and assistance in extradition cases, OIA staff must have access to organized and complete information regarding all actions on an extradition case. Additionally, as a result of attorney turnover and absences from the office, OIA staff attorneys must often assume responsibility for other attorneys' extradition cases and quickly familiarize themselves with the case details. Therefore, case files should contain all case-related information so an attorney unfamiliar with the case can easily discern the case's status and history.
In some cases, a number of different OIA attorneys handle parts of the extradition because of the primary OIA attorney's reassignment or absence. One attorney stated that if the case file did not contain complete information regarding an extradition, he would have to call the applicable government or U.S. prosecutor to ascertain the status of the case or request copies of missing documents.
Our review showed that the extradition case files were not consistently organized or complete. In 31 of the 58 extradition case files we reviewed, documents were not in any discernible order or key documents and information were missing. From the conditions of these case files, we could not readily determine the history and status of the extradition requests. To understand what had occurred in some extradition cases, we had to first sort case documents, then develop spreadsheets to organize case actions by date. After putting all the information in order, we found that important information was missing in some cases. The following case illustrates how missing documents may seriously jeopardize the extradition's success.
Outgoing Extradition Request
|The USAO for the District of Oregon requested the provisional arrest of a fugitive wanted in a murder conspiracy. To construct a coherent timeline from documents in the case file, we developed a spreadsheet that documented case actions and respective dates. Only after sifting through the volume of disorganized documents and logging each document into the spreadsheet were we able to reasonably determine how this case progressed.
We discovered that documents were missing from the case file. In a letter dated June 20, 1995, the OIA attorney states, " . . . I have searched the files for the specific documents you mentioned in the message. Unfortunately, the documents are not in the file." Not only are those documents missing from the case file, the facsimile sent by the African country's Attorney General to which the OIA attorney is responding is not in the file. Additionally, the letter states, "I will ask Harry . . . for a copy of Exhibit 5b which he provided with his affidavit dated 16 August 1991." The letter continues, "Please send these documents to me . . . " At the bottom of the page is a handwritten note that states, "Harry does NOT have a copy of his affidavit." Thus, retrieving one document, the affidavit's exhibit, proved problematic, as the original source of the document did not retain a copy. In this instance, documents were missing that should have been in OIA's case file and OIA was forced to solicit copies from other entities. The last action related to the extradition in the case file occurred on November 6, 1995. As we learned from earlier correspondence, the extradition hearing was to be held on November 13, 1995. However, the case file contains no additional documentation that describes the outcome of that hearing. OIA records indicate the case is still open, but it is impossible to know from the case file what occurred after November 6, 1995.
Documentation in the case files revealed that the conditions of case files sometimes have frustrated OIA staff. In a case file for an incoming extradition request for a fugitive wanted for narcotics trafficking, a note indicated that OIA had requested that the USMS locate the fugitive in June 1996. There is no indication the USMS responded to the request. An OIA letter dated June 2, 1998, to the USMS, states, "I inherited this case recently and am relying on our office's record system, which references the June 28, 1996, letter, to reconstruct the file. I have no hard copy of that letter, nor am I able to have a copy produced for you." Neither the USMS nor OIA had a copy of the request to locate the fugitive.
Most OIA staff said that the files should be organized chronologically, with the latest documented action appearing on top, to facilitate an easy determination of the most recent case action. However, we found the documents were not always ordered chronologically and staff members maintained their case files in any manner they chose.
We were told that many significant events within an extradition case are discussed solely via telephone conversations. Though OIA attorneys often maintain records of these conversations, many times these records are not included in the case files. As significant amounts of time pass and staff members change, crucial information may not be remembered or available that could affect later decisions.
For some cases, we determined the case history, status, and that documents were missing only by comparing information in the case files with case information in ETS. Through these checks, we determined that paperwork was missing from the case files in the following examples:
OIA also has not established record maintenance procedures for managing the case files. In practice, each attorney and paralegal is responsible for keeping track of his or her case files. Even though OIA has centralized file facilities, attorneys and paralegals stored case files in their file cabinets or piled them on desks, tables, and floors in individual offices. These practices do not safeguard or maintain control over the files.
Maintaining complete and accurate case files is important to managing extradition cases effectively. Organized case files should enhance OIA's ability to determine the status of extradition cases and determine the next action that should be taken. Complete case files ensure that OIA decisions are based on a comprehensive knowledge of the underlying reasoning and actions in each case. Disorganized files may result in attorneys and paralegals spending inordinate amounts of time trying to determine the status of extraditions and the next actions to take. Incomplete case files may force attorneys and paralegals to recreate extradition steps that already may have been taken, provide incorrect or incomplete advice regarding the extradition request, or require OIA to contact the requesters for copies of documents.
OIA Does not Have Adequate Methods for Tracking Extradition Case Actions
ETS is designed to track case information and correspondence, identify and monitor the status of extradition cases, and generate statistics about the extradition process such as the number of pending extradition cases.
OIA staff in Washington, D.C., have varying degrees of access to ETS. OIA Docketing Unit enters nearly all the case information into ETS, although the attorneys and paralegals can enter data that pertain to their cases. OIA managers use ETS to construct management reports, such as the number of cases assigned to each attorney on a country team. OIA attorneys and paralegals use ETS to determine basic information regarding cases, such as the USAO contact, but generally do not use ETS to track case activities or to manage their caseload.
ETS contains information about individual extradition cases. Data fields include the name of the fugitive, OIA attorney assigned to the case, type of extradition (incoming or outgoing), foreign country involved, and U.S. jurisdiction involved. A major component of ETS is the "Remarks" text field. This field is intended to capture (in narrative form) significant information about case actions sent and received by OIA through documents or other methods, such as telephone calls. However, during our review of the 58 cases, we compared the information in the case files to the information in ETS. We found that the information did not agree in 18, or 30 percent, of the cases. We found inconsistent information on the status of the case, whether the case was opened or closed, 22 the OIA attorney assigned to the case, dates of events, and the documents received by OIA.
According to our interviews with OIA staff, we found that the country teams are not fully using ETS. Of the 14 staff members we interviewed, 10 (6 attorneys and 4 paralegals) said that they generally do not use ETS to determine case status. They said that ETS is unreliable or is not user friendly. Many staff members said they use ETS to determine basic case identifying information, such as OIA attorney assigned, but if they want to determine case actions or status, they generally refer to the case file.
Instead of using ETS, country team staff have devised their own methods for tracking cases. The methods vary from person to person, across country teams. For example, Team III (Latin American) uses a case status matrix to track only outgoing extradition requests to Mexico, including current case status and next recommended action. Conversely, other country team attorneys and paralegals have less sophisticated methods to track open extradition cases and deadlines. For instance, some track deadlines and cases by handwriting provisional arrest dates on a desk calendar, maintaining a mental list of open cases, and attaching notes to case files.
According to our interviews with OIA staff and our review of the paralegals' position descriptions, OIA paralegals are expected to maintain a record-keeping system for tracking extradition cases. Each paralegal we interviewed said they had developed their own tracking system apart from ETS to monitor the most pressing matters, such as provisional arrest deadlines, in their extradition cases. However, none of these systems is designed to track the next actions required in the country teams' extradition cases. Thus, ETS is not used to alert staff of all upcoming actions or prompt staff to periodically review dormant cases. Therefore, we found that neither ETS nor the paralegals' case tracking systems is effective in tracking extradition cases and actions.
The inconsistency and inaccuracy of data in ETS affects the reliability and usefulness of management reports. A common, dependable tracking system would also provide the staff and managers with a mechanism to track case assignments and to monitor the status of actions on open extradition cases. Monitoring the cases through a reliable system would enable the staff to make informed, timely decisions regarding the next steps to take in the extradition process. Without a reliable, office-wide tracking system, open cases may be overlooked and actions not completed. For example, OIA had transmitted translations of extradition documents to a foreign country's Ministry of Justice for a fugitive wanted in the United States for fraud and price fixing. This was the last case action in the file and in ETS for almost six years. A mechanism to track actions would have notified the OIA attorney that the foreign government had not provided a response regarding the extradition, and that OIA should follow up to determine the case's status and whether OIA could do anything to further the extradition.
OIA Needs to Develop Relevant Performance Measures
The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 requires agencies to set multiyear strategic goals and corresponding annual goals to measure the performance toward the achievement of those goals, and to report on their progress. Setting goals and measuring performance helps to establish priorities, control operations, communicate accomplishments, and motivate staff.
The Department's Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2001-2006 outlines specific program goals, objectives, and strategies. One strategic goal is to "Enforce federal criminal laws." A strategic objective supporting this goal addresses reducing violent crime (Objective 2.1) through a variety of supporting strategies. OIA links its performance to the supporting strategy that promotes increased cooperation with foreign law enforcement authorities and uses the "number of new treaties 23 with other countries entering into force" as its performance measure.
Although the OIA has established performance measures for its treaty negotiation responsibility, OIA has not established performance measures for its other major responsibilities, such as processing extradition requests and evidence requests under the treaties. As the "law enforcement community's sole coordinator for all requests for international extradition and the Central Authority for the United States under 37 MLATs in force," 24 measuring OIA's performance in these responsibilities is appropriate and important.