THE U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE
MANAGEMENT OF AVIATION OPERATIONS

 

 

Audit Report 95-17

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

EXECUTIVE DIGEST

INTRODUCTION

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

1. AIRCRAFT AIRWORTHINESS

Recommendations

2. PILOT CERTIFICATIONS AND RECENT FLIGHTEXPERIENCE

Recommendations

3. COST REPORTING

Recommendations

4. PROGRAM MANAGEMENT

Recommendations

STATEMENT ON INTERNAL CONTROL STRUCTURE

STATEMENT ON COMPLIANCE WITH LAWS AND REGULATIONS

APPENDIX I - Pertinent Laws and Regulations

APPENDIX II - Federal Aviation Administration Results of Airworthiness Checks

APPENDIX III - USMS Comments on the Federal Aviation Administration Results of Airworthiness Checks

APPENDIX IV - Differences in Aircraft Program Cost Elements Required by OMB and the Code of Federal Regulations

APPENDIX V - Analysis of USMS Reported Federal Aviation Management Information System Costs

APPENDIX VI - Comparison of FY 1993 USMS Reported Federal Aviation Management Information System Costs with OIG Reconstructed Costs

APPENDIX VII - USMS Air Operations Division Performance Indicators and Goal Strategies

APPENDIX VIII - USMS Comments on the Audit Recommendations

 

 

EXECUTIVE DIGEST

The objective of this audit was to assess the current operations of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) aviation program, and to determine areas where the USMS could improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and safety of its aviation operations. The aviation operations costs for FY 1993 were approximately $25 million. The fleet is comprised of 14 aircraft with an estimated value of $7 million. In the first 6 months of FY 1994, the USMS transported approximately 28,000 people. This audit is part of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency's coordinated effort concerning management of civilian aircraft in the Executive Branch. This report is the second of several on Department of Justice component aviation operations.

We audited executive and administrative use, inventory and disposals, continuing need, safety, and proper operation of aircraft and found no significant deficiencies. We also audited aircraft airworthiness, pilot certifications and recent flight experience, cost reporting, and program management and found areas where the USMS could improve. In brief, these areas were:

The USMS generally maintained its aircraft properly. However, it needs to improve documentation to reduce the possibility of required maintenance being overlooked and to reduce potential liability in the event of an accident. Where Federal Aviation Administration inspectors noted deficiencies, the Air Operations Division quickly took corrective action.

Overall, the USMS met all of the required pilot certifications and recent flight experience, except that some pilots need to document night flying experience. Pilots without supported flight experience increase the potential liability of the Department in the event of an accident or incident.

The USMS' cost of aircraft operations reported to the General Services Administration for FY 1993 was understated by approximately $4.4 million. This was due to the USMS not accurately accumulating and reporting aircraft costs as required by the Office of Management and Budget. Nonetheless, in a positive light, the USMS has the capability to accumulate and report accurate costs.

To its credit, the USMS Air Operations Division was the only aviation organization within the Department with a performance measurement system. However, we noted some areas where improvements would strengthen the effectiveness of the Division's performance planning and evaluation.

Prior to the release of this report, we provided a draft version to the USMS and requested written comments on the recommendations. The USMS agreed with all of our recommendations. (See Appendix VIII for the USMS' comments.) Based on those comments and additional information provided by the Air Operations Division, the USMS has taken adequate actions to address all of the audit recommendations. Therefore, we consider this report closed.

We appreciate the prompt cooperation of the USMS and the Air Operations Division, in particular, in working with us to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the USMS' aviation operations.

 

INTRODUCTION

We have completed an audit of the management of aviation operations at the USMS. The aviation operations costs for FY 1993 were approximately $25 million. The fleet is comprised of 14 aircraft with an estimated value of $7 million.1

This audit, the second of several on Department of Justice (DOJ) component aviation operations, is part of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency's coordinated effort concerning management of civilian aircraft in the Executive Branch. The Council undertook this effort because of a Congressional request and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) interest. The General Services Administration (GSA) Office of the Inspector General is the lead agency for this audit. Thirteen Inspector General staffs are participating. According to GSA, DOJ aircraft2 make up one of the largest fleets-approximately 23 percent of all civilian aircraft in the Federal government.

 

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this audit was to assess the current operations of the USMS aviation program, and to determine areas where the USMS could improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and safety of its aviation operations.

 

SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY

We performed the audit work in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards, and, accordingly, included such tests of the records and procedures as we considered necessary. We audited executive and administrative use, inventory and disposals, continuing need, safety, and proper operation of aircraft and found no significant deficiencies. We also audited pilot certifications and recent flight experience, aircraft airworthiness, and cost reporting and found areas where the USMS could improve. The period covered by this audit included FYs 1991-1994, through May 31, 1994.

We conducted this audit by reviewing selected documents, performing tests of transactions on a sample basis, and interviewing program officials. We performed our audit work at the USMS Air Operations Division in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We tested records for all 14 aircraft and all 20 pilots during our site work in April 1994.

In addition to our audit testing, the Federal Aviation Administration, at our request, performed airworthiness checks of the 10 operational aircraft at the Air Operations Division. Additionally, they reviewed copies of aircraft log books for 3 aircraft located in Alaska.

 

BACKGROUND

The USMS Air Operations Division Procedures Manual states that the mission of the aviation program is to:

". . . support critical operations for the Office of Special Operations, conduct special protective flights for the Witness Security Division and Court Security Division, transport prisoners, conduct training flights, post-maintenance evaluation flights, and ferry of aircraft. The Associate Director for Operations may authorize support to other Federal and State agencies on a full reimbursable basis and when capacity of the system permits such support."

The FY 1993 percentages of flight hours by type of air missions are shown in the chart on the following page. As shown, prisoner transportation flight hours accounted for the vast majority of air missions.

 

FY 1993 AIR MISSIONS BY TYPE

  Source: Air Operations Division

 

The USMS aviation operations are managed by the Air Operations Division in Oklahoma City. The Division reports to the Associate Director for Operations in Washington, DC. The largest part of the fleet (11 aircraft) is operated out of Oklahoma City. In addition, the U.S. Marshals District of Alaska in Anchorage has three aircraft. The Air Operations Division manages the maintenance of all aircraft, and the qualification and training of all pilots. Further, the Division schedules the aircraft and pilots in Oklahoma City.

During our audit, the Air Operations Division consisted of 51 positions (12 of which were vacant) and 32 guards.3 The Division had four units, all of which reported to the Chief and Deputy Chief. The units were as follows:

Flight Operations  -  Responsible for scheduling and use of aircraft and flight crew. This branch consisted of a Branch Chief, Supervisory Pilot, and 17 pilot positions (2 vacant).

Maintenance  -  Responsible for monitoring maintenance contractors and ensuring aircraft were maintained as required. This section consisted of a Maintenance Supervisor, Equipment Specialist, and 3 Maintenance Coordinators (1 vacant).

Administration  -  Responsible for administrative duties such as formulation of budgets, accounting and analysis of funding, employee development and training, and communications. This section consisted of an Administrative Officer and 9 administrative support personnel (1 vacant).

Transportation Operations  -  Responsible for the coordination of prisoner movement and transportation between the Air Operations Division and Prisoner Transportation Division. This branch was made up of a Branch Chief, 11 Deputy U.S. Marshals (6 vacant4), 2 Aviation Enforcement Officers, and 32 Guards.

The U.S. Marshal for the District of Alaska is responsible for the scheduling and use of aircraft located in Anchorage. These aircraft are specially equipped for operation in Alaska and are often used like automobiles due to the lack of roads and other means of transportation.

The USMS' aircraft fleet consists of jet airplanes, and single- and multi-engine propeller airplanes as shown in the chart on the following page.

 

USMS-OWNED AIRCRAFT FLEET MIX
(As of March 31, 1994)

TYPE OF AIRCRAFT OKLAHOMA ALASKA TOTAL
Single Engine Propeller 2 2 4
Multi-Engine Propeller 1 1 2
Jet Engine 81 0 8
Total 11 3 14  
   1 Includes one non-operational aircraft in the process of being transferred to another agency.

 

The USMS' fleet was acquired in three ways: through purchase, through the asset forfeiture program, or through transfers from other agencies; e.g., six aircraft were previously owned by the Federal Aviation Administration. In addition to the above owned aircraft, the USMS occasionally leased a jet to support mission needs when one of its jets was out of service due to maintenance.

At the start of this audit, the USMS also operated two aircraft out of a field office in Atlanta, Georgia. That office was assigned four pilots to support special operational missions; i.e., surveillance, aerial photography, and airborne communications platform. The Air Operations Division performed a study during our audit and concluded that the office was not capable of effectively meeting its mission due to equipment shortages and budget and personnel constraints. Therefore, in September 1993, the assets and positions were transferred to Oklahoma City.

Prior Reviews

The USMS aviation program has been the subject of several reviews during the past few years. In 1989, we issued a report on the USMS National Prisoner Transportation System. At that time, the Air Operations Division was organizationally part of the Prisoner Transportation Division. The weaknesses identified relevant to the Air Operations Division were:

the USMS needed to improve security over airlift operations;

conditions existed that reduced management's ability to direct, control, record, and review its operation; and

small aircraft were primarily used for operations other than prisoner transportation, but the costs were charged to the National Prisoner Transportation System.

In February 1992, we issued a report on executive use of DOJ aircraft which covered the period of October 1988 through March 1990. The audit did not find any instances where government aircraft were used for nonofficial purposes. Further, the USMS' frequency of executive usage ranged from 2.3 to 7.7 percent. However, the USMS did not always follow OMB requirements and prudent management practices in allowing the use of government aircraft.

A USMS reorganization in November 1990 resulted in the Air Operations Division being separated from the Prisoner Transportation Division. In 1991, the current Chief and Deputy Chief were appointed to manage the air operations. In our judgment, the Air Operations Division has improved substantially under their management.

The Justice Management Division, Management and Planning Staff, conducted a review of the Department's air fleets at the request of the Attorney General. In May 1994, the Staff issued a report to her entitled, "A Management Review of Air Fleet Operations Within the DOJ." The review examined ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the fleets through possible consolidation or coordination of activities and services. Based on the report, a Deputy Attorney General memorandum dated August 15, 1994, directed the consolidation, by FY 1996, of the USMS and the Detention and Deportation air operations within the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Once consolidated, the single entity is to be managed by the USMS.

As noted earlier, our audit was the result of a Congressional request to the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency. This report of the USMS aviation operations is the second of several reports which we will issue as a result of that request.

Pertinent Laws and Regulations

The controlling regulations for the acquisition and use of civilian, government aircraft are OMB Circulars A-76, "Performance of Commercial Activities," and A-126, "Improving the Management and Use of Government Aircraft (Revised)." These Circulars prescribe policies to be followed by Executive Branch agencies in acquiring, managing, using, accounting for the cost of, and disposing of aircraft.

41 Code of Federal Regulations 101-37, "Government Aviation Administration And Coordination," incorporates applicable provisions of both of these OMB Circulars. Further, the regulations include additional policies and procedures for the efficient and effective management of aviation resources, to include safety.

DOJ Order 2460.1, entitled, "Aircraft Management," effective October 1, 1990, requires DOJ components to comply with OMB Circulars A-76 and A-126. The Order also prescribes general policies and procedures for the management and use of Departmental aircraft. Appendix I contains a more in-depth discussion on the two OMB Circulars and this DOJ Order.

The Federal Aviation Regulations, 14 Code of Federal Regulations, define public use and civil aircraft, and set forth the regulations for operating aircraft. These regulations are normally considered the minimum standards for operating aircraft, and have proven to be safe and reliable standards to follow. The specific parts of the Federal Aviation Regulations which apply to the USMS air operations are discussed in more detail in Appendix I.

The USMS Air Operations Division Procedures Manual states that USMS aircraft:

". . . are public aircraft and as such, are not subject to the FAR [Federal Aviation Regulations], except for those . . . pertaining to the use of airspace, the control of air traffic, and aircraft registration . . . . However, it is the procedure of the U.S. Marshals Service that Service aircraft will be certificated, maintained, and operated in accordance with all applicable FAR unless a deviation from this procedure is approved in writing by the Chief, Air Operations Division."

In essence, the USMS operates its aircraft under the public use definition, but voluntarily subjects its operations to the more stringent requirements of applicable Federal Aviation Regulations.

 


1 Based on the average retail values listed in the Aircraft Bluebook Digest, Fall 1993, Volume 93-3 Edition, and The Airliner Price Guide of Commercial-Regional & Commuter Aircraft, Fall 1993 Edition. Eleven of the 14 USMS aircraft were based at the Air Operations Division in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The remaining three aircraft were based at the USMS District of Alaska in Anchorage. During our audit, 13 of the 14 aircraft were operational.

2 DOJ aircraft totaled 333 as of March 31, 1994, of which the USMS fleet represented approximately 4 percent.

3 These employees are contracted on an hourly basis to perform prisoner escort duties.

4 Selections have been made for these positions. However, the positions remain vacant pending funding for relocations.

#####