The United States Marshals Service's Workforce Planning and Management
(Redacted for Public Release)

Audit Report 07-38
July 2007
Office of the Inspector General


Executive Summary

The United States Marshals Service (USMS) is the federal law enforcement agency responsible for providing security and support to the federal courts, apprehending fugitives, protecting federal witnesses, and managing assets seized by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The USMS is divided into 94 offices covering the 94 federal judicial districts and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (D.C. Superior Court). Each USMS office is headed by a presidentially appointed U.S. Marshal.1 The USMSís overall budget was $801.7 million in fiscal year (FY) 2006.

As of September 15, 2006, the USMS employed 4,593 non-contract employees, with 3,506 of them assigned to its district offices and 1,087 to headquarters. The USMS also uses contract employees to perform certain tasks, such as processing and transporting prisoners. In total, the USMS expended over $264.6 million in FY 2005 for more than 6,000 full-time and part time contractors.2

Office of the Inspector General Audit

In this audit, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) assessed the USMSís management of its workforce. The specific objectives of the audit were to determine whether the USMS: (1) adequately designed, tested, and implemented a workforce management plan that sufficiently assesses its human resources and capacity requirements based on current and expected workloads; (2) evaluates, monitors, and corrects, if necessary, its personnel utilization to ensure it directs appropriate resources to its highest priorities and achieves its organizational objectives; (3) has sufficiently addressed pay compensation issues, including job-grade and career progression; and (4) has provided adequate and appropriate training to its operational employees.

To accomplish these objectives, we interviewed more than 180 USMS personnel, including the USMS Director and U.S. Marshals in most of the offices we visited.3 We also analyzed empirical data related to the USMSís resource allocation, utilization, and workload for the period of FYs 2000 through 2005. Finally, we conducted fieldwork at seven USMS district offices Ė the Central District of California, D.C. Superior Court, District of Rhode Island, Northern District of Illinois, Southern District of Florida, Southern District of New York, and Western District of Texas. Additional information about our audit scope and methodology is contained in Appendix I.

Audit Results

In FY 2006, USMS management issued a new strategic plan, re evaluated the process by which the USMS allocates its personnel resources, and revised directives regarding the career progression of its core operational personnel. However, weaknesses remain in the integration of the USMSís strategic plan with its daily activities; the accuracy, consistency, and comprehensiveness of data that the USMS uses for resource planning efforts; the USMSís monitoring of how its personnel are utilized; the adequacy of training for USMS operational employees; and the management of the USMSís training budget.

Workforce Planning

In performing its planning activities, the USMS has faced significant challenges because the bulk of its workload is not self-initiated and instead originates from other agencies and the judicial system. We found that the USMS has recently improved its strategic planning activities and taken steps to refine the quantitative models used to determine its resource needs. However, we found some weaknesses in the execution of its planning processes and the data systems that feed these processes.

Strategic Planning Activities

According to USMS budget formulation officials, prior to January 2006 the bulk of the USMSís planning processes revolved around the preparation and submission of the annual budget, rather than through the establishment of long-term goals and strategies.

In January 2006, the USMS issued a more comprehensive strategic plan for FYs 2006 through 2010. Despite being widely distributed throughout the USMS, we found that many of the field employees with whom we spoke, including supervisors, were not familiar with the strategic plan.

In addition, after the new 5-year strategic plan was issued, the USMS Director assigned each organizational unitís senior management the task of developing Unit Performance Plans detailing how each unit would plan and monitor its progress relative to the strategic plan.4 During our fieldwork, we found that central responsibility for ensuring that the Unit Performance Plans are complete, accurate, and meaningful had not yet been assigned. We believe that the USMS should ensure that the Unit Performance Plans provide reasonable steps for implementing and monitoring progress relative to the overall strategic plan.

Workforce Planning Models

Despite the challenge of a largely reactive workload, the USMS has developed a good model to determine its resource needs and should continue its efforts to strengthen the model. However, we found that the data systems that feed the model, and also are used in the budget decision making process, contain weaknesses that can hinder an accurate assessment of the USMSís resource needs.

According to the USMS, the USMS began using quantitative methods to determine its resource needs in 1986. The primary model the USMS used during our review period, from FYs 2000 through 2005, was the District Budget Model (DBM).

First used in 2000 for the development of the FY 2002 budget request, the USMS developed the DBM in an attempt to quantify optimal staffing levels within district offices under ideal budget conditions. The DBM combines work standards and historical workload data from multiple sources, including narrative district assessments and the USMSís automated systems. The DBM, via various mathematical formulas, then generates the number of district personnel needed to complete tasks in a set amount of time at current workload levels and performance and safety standards.

The USMS supplemented its use of the DBM with the Workforce Equalization Model (WEM) to account for the routine difference in figures calculated by the DBM and the number of authorized full-time equivalent (FTE) positions. The USMS described the WEM as identifying what the agency can afford to provide each district if the available positions were proportionally distributed according to the DBM.

In January 2006, the USMS Director suspended use of the DBM and the WEM. Additionally, he established an internal working group to review current USMS staffing and funding resource allocation processes and to recommend potential improvements. In June 2006, the working group reported to the Director that the DBM was a valid and useful model for determining the appropriate staffing requirements of the USMSís district offices and the USMS should continue to use it as a staffing model. In addition, the working group highlighted the DBMís utilization of data from automated systems that the USMS uses to track or conduct its missions and identified the importance of data verification as a critical element of the modelís integrity. The working group also recommended the use of the WEM be continued, with a modified staffing threshold, for reallocation purposes.

We concur with the working groupís overall findings and believe that the USMS should continue to use the DBM and seek continual improvements to its resource planning process. Moreover, we agree with the findings that data validity is critical to the integrity of the staffing model.

Concerns with USMS Data Systems

The USMS utilizes information from a number of data systems, which feed into the DBM and the USMSís budget decisions, to track and monitor employee utilization and workload by function. While we did not perform an analysis of each of the systems, we identified several areas of concern regarding the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in three of the systems Ė the USM-7, the Warrant Information Network (WIN), and the Prisoner Transportation System (PTS).

During our review of these three USMS data systems, we found that only a limited number of personnel at USMS headquarters understood and could interpret the data captured in these systems. In particular, USMS headquarters program personnel responsible for issuing plans and policies that define the purpose and use of each data system were, at times, unfamiliar with the contents of the databases. In fact, we were unable to discuss fully with USMS officials the results of several of our analyses because, when we were directed by certain program officials to speak with an individual within another division to explain matters, the official directed us back to the program officials for the explanation.

Following is a brief discussion of the concerns we identified.

The errors and inconsistencies we identified in some of the data systems the USMS uses to manage its workforce call into question the validity of the data. Because its data systems directly feed its resource planning models, the USMS may be basing its resource request, allocation, and utilization decisions on inaccurate and inconsistent data.

USMS Workload and Resource Utilization

To assess the USMSís efforts to execute and evaluate its performance relative to its available workforce, we examined the USMSís use of its personnel resources and the workload addressed between FYs 2000 and 2005.

Resources Generally Directed Towards Primary Mission Area

As shown in the following chart, during most of our review period the USMS utilized the largest portion of its operational personnel on what it considers to be its primary mission area Ė Judicial and Courthouse Security.

USMS OPERATIONAL PERSONNEL UTILIZATION
FISCAL YEARS 2000 THROUGH 2005


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Source: OIG analysis of USM-7 data

USMS Does Not Regularly Review Utilization

The USMS does not allocate positions by mission or task area. Rather, each district is allocated a pool of employees that U.S. Marshals may utilize as they deem appropriate. According to several management officials at USMS headquarters and district offices, the USMS does not systematically review the utilization of resources on all aspects of USMS operations because it believes it knows how its resources are being used. However, we believe periodic reviews of resource utilization would be beneficial to USMS management to ensure that the USMS is appropriately addressing priority tasks. Regular reviews would also help to ensure that the USMS is using the most accurate personnel and workload data possible in its resource planning processes.

During our analysis of the USMSís use of its personnel resources and workload, we identified inconsistencies in the level of effort recorded on matters related to judicial protective investigations and fugitives, as well as the potential use of USMS contractors on prohibited activities.6

Level of Effort Recorded on Judicial Protective Investigations Ė Several judicial security-related incidents in the past few years, including the murder of family members of a federal judge in Chicago, Illinois, as well as a shooting within a Georgia state courthouse, have raised the visibility and importance of investigating potential threats to federal judges, prosecutors, and jurors. The USMS conducts a protective investigation primarily in response to inappropriate communications or direct threats.7 Several USMS officials, including the Director, stated that the investigation of threats against the federal judiciary is one of the top priorities of the agency.

Based upon the emphasis placed on this responsibility, we expected to see a significant number of FTEs utilized in this area. However, we found that the USMS data reflects that the USMS utilized just 24 FTEs on protective investigations during FY 2005, a number that includes all 94 district offices and headquarters, including the Office of Protective Intelligence (OPI).8 We reviewed this data in concert with statements made by OPI officials responsible for the program and from district employees responsible for conducting the protective investigations, and we noted inconsistencies. Specifically, there appears to be a great deal of uncertainty about the amount of work the USMS is performing in the area of protective investigations. We believe that the USMS should examine the use of its resources related to protective investigations and determine if the appropriate level of effort is being expended.

We also identified a backlog with headquartersí review of potential threats. To assist in assessing risk and to help prioritize the response to these communications, USMS headquarters is responsible for reviewing information related to each potential threat and assigning a threat level rating.9 This rating is reflected in the WIN system. However, during our review of threat-related data in the WIN system, we identified a total of 211 potential threats reported to USMS district offices during FY 2005 with a rating of ď0.Ē According to the USMS, this is the default value recorded until the threat analysis is completed. The 211 unrated records as of October 2006 represent 23 percent of the 922 total potential threats recorded in FY 2005.

When we presented information on the missing mosaic ratings to a senior analyst assigned to the OPI, which is the unit responsible for rating the threats, the analyst stated that the office is continually short-staffed and that the unit is simply not able to review every potential threat in a timely manner. While the unit was aware that a backlog existed, the senior analyst expressed surprise at the extent of the backlog that we identified and acknowledged that it would be helpful if the unit performed analyses similar to ours. At the conclusion of the audit, a USMS official informed us that the USMS had resolved the backlog as of March 2007.10

Level of Effort Recorded on Fugitive Apprehension Ė According to USM 7 data, the USMS used 317 more operational FTEs on fugitive apprehension matters during FY 2005 than during FY 2000, which was consistent with the 45 percent increase we identified in the total number of fugitive warrants received. However, several individuals from the district offices we reviewed had contradictory viewpoints on the USMSís fugitive apprehension efforts. Personnel at many of these district offices stated that the USMSís fugitive apprehension activity had suffered because district offices were not able to devote as many deputies to fugitive work in FY 2005 as they had in FY 2000, even though their fugitive warrant workload had increased during this time. These individuals further commented that deputies often were pulled from fugitive investigations to assist with myriad court-related duties, causing a backlog on fugitive-related matters.

Possible Use of Contractors on Prohibited Activities Ė According to USMS policy, district offices may procure the services of contractors to perform certain activities, including securing and processing federal prisoners in the cellblock, courtroom, and during transportation; securing and transporting federal prisoners to and from medical appointments and/or hospitalization; and securing federal, seized, or forfeited property. However, these contractors are prohibited from performing other activities, including personal security details and investigative work.

During our review of historical resource utilization data, we found that some contractors had recorded time on activities that they are prohibited by USMS policy from performing. For example, USM 7 data indicated that contractors had charged time to federal felony and non-felony warrant investigations, state and local warrant investigations, cases related to the USMSís ď15 Most-Wanted Fugitives,Ē major cases, terrorist investigations, and protective investigations. Similarly, we identified several instances in which contractors had recorded time on protective details of federal judges and government officials.

In total, we computed that from FYs 2000 through 2005, USMS contractorsí recording of time on restricted duties ranged from 22 to 43 FTEs per year.11 USMS headquarters officials offered several possible explanations for these instances. However, these officials could not confirm that contractors had not performed prohibited activities. We believe that USMS management should regularly review the utilization of contract guards and ensure that USMS policy regarding use of contractors is being followed throughout the USMS.

USMS Operational Workforce Structure

The USMS uses several different types of operational employees to accomplish the various functions assigned to the agency.12 In FY 2000, the USMS established a three-tiered workforce model for its operational employees. According to a USMS headquarters official, the USMS took this action to more appropriately match employee skill and pay levels with job tasks after officials recognized that the USMS frequently utilized highly trained deputies to perform less complex court-related duties, including prisoner detention and transportation. This three-tiered workforce consists of Detention Enforcement Officers (DEO), Deputy U.S. Marshals (DUSM), and Criminal Investigator Deputy U.S. Marshals (CIDUSM). In addition to their assigned tasks, each position may perform the duties of the lower tier. Following is a description of the positions in ascending order.

USMS Steps to Address Career Progression and Pay Compensation

During our audit, several district representatives, including U.S. Marshals, expressed concern with the three-tiered structure as it existed from FYs 2000 through 2006 because it affected the career progression of DUSMs. Many district representatives believed that the structure had created tension among operational personnel and contributed to low morale among DUSMs. In September 2006, the USMS implemented a new directive that permits all DUSMs that meet certain requirements to non-competitively convert to a CIDUSM position. In our opinion, this recently adopted conversion program will help alleviate the problems expressed by many of the district representatives we interviewed. However, this program was only recently implemented, and we believe that the USMS must closely monitor its implementation to ensure it meets the needs of the USMS and its workforce.

During our audit, operational personnel also expressed dissatisfaction with the GS 12 journeyman level of USMS CIDUSMs. According to these individuals, criminal investigators at other DOJ components, namely the Federal of Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, attain journeyman status at the GS 13 level. The CIDUSMs believed that their duties were comparable to those performed by criminal investigators at these other agencies and thus should be afforded equivalent journeyman level status.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) formally issues all position classification standards that provide grading criteria for positions classified under the General Schedule Classification System. Although OPM provides a framework, it is ultimately the responsibility of each agency to properly classify its positions. We discussed the classification concerns with the USMS Director, who stated that he plans to reassess the classification of the USMSís criminal investigators.

Employee Training

In addition to reviewing how the USMS plans for and utilizes its personnel resources, we reviewed the USMSís efforts to train its workforce. According to USMS policy, each operational employee attends formalized, basic training at the USMS Training Academy, which is co-located at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia.13 Until September 2006, the USMS operated separate basic training programs for each of its operational positions Ė DEOs, DUSMs, and CIDUSMs. This changed at the end of FY 2006 when the training program was revamped so that all newly hired DUSMs would undergo criminal investigator training as part of their DUSM basic training.

Lack of Continued Training Opportunities

We found that the USMS generally provided adequate instruction during its basic training classes. However, a large number of operational employees we interviewed expressed concern about the lack of continued training opportunities beyond the Academy. For example, several individuals at each of the seven district offices we visited voiced concern about the lack of advanced firearms training. According to the USMS, this type of training is provided in the formal course entitled Advanced Deputy Refresher Training, which was implemented in 1993. Although the USMS intends for this training be completed by CIDUSMs after serving 5 years in this position and then every 3 years thereafter, the USMS conducted very few Advanced Deputy Refresher Training sessions during FYs 2004 and 2005. Additionally, some CIDUSMs remarked that they had only attended one Advanced Deputy Refresher Training course during their tenure as a CIDUSM, which in some cases had been at least 9 to 10 years.

Inadequate Training Records System

We attempted to analyze empirical data to determine if USMS personnel attended mandatory training in a timely manner. However, we were unable to conduct such an analysis because the USMS did not maintain adequate documentation of the training provided or received. For example, to comply with our request for information related to the advanced deputy course completion, USMS Training Academy officials manually reviewed hard-copy documents, such as course rosters. In gathering the data, USMS officials identified significant amounts of missing, erroneous, and inconsistent information. Ultimately, we could not use the data provided because it was not sufficiently reliable. This lack of an automated system has reduced the USMSís ability to accurately assess the training needs and activities of its personnel. USMS headquarters and Training Academy officials agreed that the agency needs a mechanism for managing training information and reported that DOJ is exploring the procurement of a single system for use by all its components.

Management of USMS Training Budget

The amount of funds budgeted for USMS training matters has fluctuated since FY 2003, as shown in the following chart.


USMS ALLOCATED TRAINING FUNDS
FISCAL YEARS 2003 THROUGH 2006

FY 2003: $7.5 Million; FY 2004: $5.1 Million; FY 2005: $3.1 Million; FY 2006: $5.4 Million.
Source: USMS Training Academy

A senior official from the USMS Training Academy noted that FY 2003 was a ďbannerĒ year in which a sizeable amount of funds were allocated for training to accommodate a hiring push of DUSMs. This official stated that he would prefer more stable funding amounts so the Training Academy could more effectively plan for its activities.

While many operational employees generally cited lack of adequate funding as the reason for most of the training issues we identified, we found that the USMS Training Academy had a significant amount of funds that were not expended prior to making end-of-year purchases, such as ammunition and vehicles.14 Even after accounting for these purchases, the USMS recorded a surplus in training funds, which was returned to the agencyís general fund in each of these fiscal years. The following table provides details on the USMSís training budgets from FY 2003 through FY 2006.


USMS TRAINING BUDGET RECAP
FYs 2003 THROUGH 2006
FY Allocation Expenditures15 Balance End-of-Year Purchases Overall Surplus
2003 $7,515,631 $6,667,491 $848,140 $623,640 $224,500
2004 $5,058,087 $4,705,965 $352,122 $168,302 $183,820
2005 $3,075,550 $2,964,073 $111,477 $85,852 $25,625
2006 $5,432,467 $5,078,636 $353,831 $312,524 $41,307
Source: OIG analysis of USMS Training Academy data

Although we recognize that it is impossible for the USMS to use its entire training budget in each fiscal year, these significant end-of-year purchases and surpluses suggest that the training funds could be managed more effectively. Considering the numerous statements made to us by USMS employees indicating a need for continued training, the USMS should ensure that allocated training funds are being utilized to their greatest extent for training purposes.

A USMS headquarters official spoke to this issue at the conclusion of our audit and commented that when budgeting for classes, the Academy projects for a worst-case scenario. Therefore, if the cost for classes is lower than projected, the Academy will have additional funds remaining at the end of a fiscal year. Further, this official noted that it generally is not until near the end of the fiscal year that the Academy is able to adequately determine the amount of remaining funds. While we understand that the Training Academy cannot predict the amount of surplus training funds in any given fiscal year, we believe that the USMS could improve its planning so that these training funds are used to provide additional training, either external or internal, for its operational personnel.

Conclusion

During FY 2006, the USMS undertook several projects designed to address long-standing concerns at the agency, including: (1) the development and issuance of a comprehensive strategic plan; (2) the appointment of an internal USMS working group to review resource allocation processes and suggest new processes; (3) the establishment of a new USMS career track for deputies; and (4) the stated intention to review the grade structure for USMS operational positions.

In concert with the establishment of the new strategic plan, the USMS Director assigned all organizational units the task of creating Unit Performance Plans to reflect how each unit would implement the plan and measure its performance. However, we found that the USMS had not established a review mechanism to ensure that the unit plans are complete, accurate, and in line with the goals of the strategic plan.

We also identified inaccuracies and inconsistencies in data from some of the USMSís automated systems. Besides questions regarding the completeness and accuracy of the data being recorded by USMS operational personnel, we also noted that a portion of the USMSís contracted employees do not record their time in a manner similar to USMS operational personnel. The exclusion of this data, as well as the inaccuracies and inconsistencies, indicates the USMS may be unable to completely define its total workload or the total level of effort expended in each mission area.

Further, we found that only a limited number of personnel at USMS headquarters understand and can interpret the data captured in these systems. Specifically, we found that USMS headquarters program personnel responsible for issuing plans and policies that define the purpose and use of each data system were, at times, unfamiliar with the contents of the databases. Additionally, we found that USMS management does not routinely review resource utilization reports. As a result, the USMS could not fully explain inconsistencies we identified in the level of effort expended on protective investigation and fugitive matters, as well as the utilization of contractors.

We also identified concerns with the USMSís training program. Our review indicated that while basic operational training appears to be sound and provide a good foundation for beginning personnel, training for operational personnel beyond their initial Academy experience needs improvement. Additionally, we were unable to review empirical data related to the USMSís training efforts because the USMS lacks a system that accurately records and adequately manages its training needs and activities. Moreover, we believe that the USMS has not adequately managed its training funds. Specifically, the Training Academy returned surpluses in its training fund to the USMS general fund at the end of each of these fiscal years. These practices could indicate that all of the USMSís training needs are being met when, based on our review, they are not.

To assist the USMS in the improvement of its workforce management and planning, we offer 15 recommendations for the USMS to improve its operations, including improving the resource utilization reporting for USMS employees and contractors, enhancing USMS automated systems to help ensure data validity and integrity, and reviewing the USMSís on-going training efforts.



Footnotes
  1. Currently, there are 94 federal judicial districts, including at least 1 district in each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The U.S. Marshal for the District of Guam also oversees the District of the Northern Mariana Islands, resulting in 93 U.S. Marshals for 94 federal judicial districts. The inclusion of one non-federal district, the D.C. Superior Court, results in 94 U.S. Marshals.

  2. The USMS could not provide us with an exact number of contract personnel because the agency does not track the number of personnel provided through some national contracts.

  3. We did not interview the U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of New York, as he was not in the district during our field visit. Additionally, we interviewed the Acting U.S. Marshal for the D.C. Superior Court.

  4. Organizational units include headquarters components as well as district offices.

  5. The USMS does not maintain statistics on the number of guards provided through vendors under national contracts.

  6. According to USMS officials, these investigations are referred to as ďprotective investigations,Ē although the USM-7 project code refers to them as ďthreat investigations.Ē

  7. According to the USMS, an inappropriate communication is ďany communication in writing, by telephone, verbally, through an informant, or by some suspicious activity that threatens, harasses, or makes unsettling overtures of an improper nature directed toward a USMS protectee.Ē Additionally, a threat is ďany action, whether explicit or implied, of an intent to assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, or interfere with any member of the federal judiciary, or other USMS protectee.Ē For purposes of this report, we refer to all inappropriate communications/threats as ďpotential threats.Ē

  8. Established in February 2005, the mission of the OPI is to provide the USMS with protective investigation analyses. The OPI collects, analyzes, and disseminates information about groups, individuals, and activities that pose a potential threat to persons and property protected by the USMS.

  9. During our review period, the USMS used a rating system referred to as the mosaic rating. This rating system applied an algorithmic formula to answers for 31 multiple-choice questions. While this tool was used to assist in addressing protective investigations, the USMS stated that it did not imply that inappropriate communications with low or moderate threat levels were not handled. Instead, the USMS remarked that all inappropriate communications are to be investigated and assessed commensurate with the threat level.

  10. According to the USMS, it was not necessary to perform mosaic analyses on these cases in order to resolve them because the cases had already been closed by district offices without requests from district offices to the OPI for further analysis. Additionally, utilizing personnel to perform analyses on cases that had been determined by district offices to not be credible would be an inefficient use of resources.

  11. We used a conservative approach for determining the number of contract guard FTEs that were not potentially used in accordance with USMS policy. The specific meaning of some time charges was not evident, and we could not determine whether they should be considered allowable or restricted duties. In these instances, we treated these time charges as being permissible.

  12. See Appendix II for a nationwide breakdown of USMS employees by position type.

  13. FLETC serves as an interagency law enforcement training organization for over 80 federal agencies, including the USMS.

  14. According to a USMS Training Academy official, these end-of-year purchases may include items purchased to support the Training Academyís response support mission. According to this official, Training Academy personnel and trainees are deployed during national emergencies, such as the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and Hurricane Katrina. This requires that the Academy maintain supplies on-hand that it may need to provide an immediate response to future emergencies. The USMS official further stated that end-of-year purchases may include costs related to the Academyís administration of the USMSís firearms, less-than-lethal, and body armor programs.

  15. This column includes those costs incurred by the USMS for Academy class expenditures, operating expenses, FLETC charges, and external training courses.



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