As mandated by Congress, the DOJ OIG conducted an audit of all legislative and public affairs expenses of each DOJ component. Specifically, Pub. L. No. 110-161 (2007), Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, required that:
Within 200 days of enactment of this Act, the Inspector General shall conduct an audit and issue a report to the Committees on Appropriations of all expenses of the legislative and public affairs offices at each location of the Justice Department, its bureaus and agencies, including but not limited to every field office and headquarters component; the audit shall include any and all expenses related to these activities.
To accomplish this congressionally mandated audit, we: (1) identified DOJ agencies, offices, and divisions that perform legislative or public affairs functions; (2) obtained data for all FY 2007 legislative and public affairs expenses within DOJ; and (3) analyzed the legislative and public affairs expense data provided by the components.
We conducted this performance audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. The audit generally covered, but is not limited to, legislative and public affairs expenses and staffing during FY 2007. Our audit did not assess the adequacy of component information systems or internal controls, nor did we assess the accuracy of estimation methodologies provided by component staff. Nonetheless, we ensured that our audit methodology met the intent of Congress through discussions with CJS Appropriations staff.
Our audit covered FY 2007 legislative and public affairs expenses and staffing among all 40 DOJ components and the 94 USAOs. Additionally, we conducted limited fieldwork at OLA and PAO to obtain background information on legislative and public affairs functions as well as at JMD to obtain information on a similar request performed during FY 2007.
In conducting the audit, we administered a survey to all DOJ components and USAOs. We followed up on the survey with a legislative and public affairs expense and staffing data request administered to the DOJ components and USAOs that performed significant legislative and public affairs functions. See Appendix IV and V, respectively, for a list of DOJ components and USAOs included in our survey and our expenses and staffing data request.
As mandated by Congress, our audit included legislative and public affairs expenses and staffing for all DOJ components, including the OIG. As a result, the OIG was included in the survey to identify components that performed significant legislative or public affairs functions. However, our analysis of OIG legislative and public affairs determined that the OIG did not meet the threshold of performing significant legislative and public affairs functions, according to the methodology established for this audit. The OIG was therefore excluded from the detailed expenses and staffing data request for this audit. Our determination of those components that did not perform significant legislative or public affairs functions was not affected by the OIG’s inclusion as part of the audit universe, and we consider ourselves to be independent for the purposes of this audit, as defined by generally accepted government auditing standards.
OIG Legislative and Public Affairs Survey
To identify DOJ agencies, offices, and divisions that perform legislative or public affairs functions, we administered an OIG survey to all 40 DOJ components and 94 USAOs, requesting information on legislative and public affairs functions performed in FY 2007. The purpose of the survey was to obtain:
information on components performing legislative or public affairs functions;
information on the types of legislative and public affairs functions performed;
the number of staff performing legislative or public affairs functions on either an exclusive basis or as a collateral duty; and
the number of staff detailed to or from components for the purpose of performing legislative or public affairs functions.
Using the component’s responses to our survey, we identified the components with offices dedicated to legislative or public affairs that had staff performing a significant amount of legislative or public affairs functions in FY 2007. We defined “significant” as staff performing legislative or public affairs functions for an average of 25 percent or more of their time per week in FY 2007 (or at least 10 hours per week based on a 40-hour per week work schedule), during the period in which they were assigned to perform these functions.33
OIG Legislative and Public Affairs Expense and Staffing Data Request
To obtain data for all FY 2007 legislative and public affairs expenses within DOJ, we distributed data requests to the 25 components and 58 USAOs identified in our survey that had offices dedicated to legislative or public affairs or staff performing a significant amount of legislative or public affairs functions in FY 2007. We requested that the components identified use spreadsheet templates to provide:
summary and detailed FY 2007 legislative or public affairs personnel and non-personnel expenses for all component offices of legislative and public affairs, headquarters offices, field offices, and USAOs;
detailed staffing information for all full-time staff and staff performing legislative or public affairs as a significant collateral duty; and
estimated percentage of time spent on legislative or public affairs functions for all staff performing these functions as a significant collateral duty.
Depending on the components’ methodology for capturing expenses, we distributed four different data requests. Although the format of these data requests and instructions varied, the overall purpose was to obtain legislative and public affairs personnel and non-personnel expenses.
Obtaining consistent non-personnel expense data across the entire DOJ for this audit was difficult because: (1) different accounting systems are used; (2) components with legislative or public affairs offices used office codes, program codes, or organization codes to collect expenses; and (3) components without legislative or public affairs offices did not have office, program, or organization codes to capture expense data and were required to estimate the non‑personnel expenses of individual staff performing these functions on a full‑time basis or as a collateral duty.
To obtain consistent types of expense data, we followed the format of JMD’s prior data request by using OMB object classes. Object classes are “categories in a classification system that presents obligations by the items or services purchased by the federal government.... You record obligations when the federal government places an order for an item or service, awards a contract, receives a service, or enters into similar transactions that will require payments in the same or a future period.” Object classes are first categorized by Major Object Class and then are divided into smaller object classes. We requested expenses from the following:
Major Object Class: 10 – Personnel Compensation and Benefits
11.1 – Full-Time Permanent - includes personnel compensation for full-time civilian employees with permanent appointments, and includes full-time permanent employees in the Competitive Service with career and career-conditional appointments, Excepted Service whose appointments carry no restriction or condition, and Senior Executive Service with career appointments.
11.3 – Other Than Full-Time Permanent - includes personnel compensation paid to civilian employees for part-time, temporary, or intermittent employment.
11.5 – Overtime, Awards, and Bonuses - includes overtime or pay for services in excess of the established work period, and bonuses or cash incentive awards, which are payments for cash awards that do not become part of the federal civilian employee’s basic rate of pay.
12.0 – Personnel Benefits - includes benefits for currently employed federal civilian personnel.
Major Object Class: 20 – Contractual Services and Supplies
21.0 – Travel and Transportation of Persons - includes expenses of government employees and other persons, while in an authorized travel status, that are to be paid by the government either directly or by reimbursing the traveler.
22.0 – Transportation of Things - includes freight and express charges by common carrier and contract carrier; trucking and other local transportation charges for hauling, handling, and other services incident to local transportation; and mail transportation charges.
23.1 – Rental Payments to the General Services Administration (GSA) – includes rental of space and rent-related services.
23.3 - Communications, Utilities, and Miscellaneous Charges - includes obligations for the rental or lease of information technology equipment; data, voice, and wireless communication services; postal services and rentals; and utility services.
24.0 – Printing and Reproduction - includes expenses for printing and reproduction obtained from the private sector or from other federal entities.
25.0 – Other Contractual Services - includes obligations for contractual services for advisory and assistance services, purchases of goods and services from government accounts, operation and maintenance of facilities and equipment, payments for medical care, research and development contracts, subsistence and support of persons, and other services not otherwise classified.
26.0 – Supplies and Materials - includes obligations for commodities that are: ordinarily consumed or expended within 1 year after they are put into use; converted in the process of construction or manufacture; or used to form a minor part of equipment or fixed property. This object class also includes office supplies, publications, information technology supplies, materials and parts, etc.
Major Object Class: 30 – Acquisition of Assets
31.0 – Equipment - includes obligations for furniture purchases and other personal property of a durable nature that normally may be expected to have a period of service of 1 year or more after being put into use without material impairment of its physical conditional or functional capacity.
We also placed an “Other Expenses” column into our spreadsheet as a catch-all for expenses not captured within the above object classes.
Our audit requested staffing information and expense data for individuals performing legislative or public affairs full-time. As previously stated, our audit also intended to capture staffing information and expenses for individuals other than those exclusively performing these functions. In order to capture staffing information and expenses for these individuals, we established a threshold that staff averaging 10 or more hours (or 25 percent of work performed) per week in FY 2007 during the period they were assigned to performed legislative or public affairs were considered as performing legislative and public affairs functions as a “significant” collateral duty in addition to their primary responsibilities. We selected this threshold because we did not want to capture incidental, non‑recurring activities such as those associated with component staff completing an occasional press‑release or providing an intermittent response to OLA.
Our data request spreadsheets contained sections for components to list staff that exclusively performed legislative or public affairs functions and for staff that performed legislative or public affairs functions as a significant collateral duty. For staff that performed legislative or public affairs functions as a significant collateral duty, components were asked to provide an estimated percentage of time collateral staff performed these functions. The components were also asked to pro-rate the personnel and non-personnel expenses for staff that performed legislative or public affairs functions as a significant collateral duty using the estimated percentage of time collateral staff performed these functions. We did not audit this estimate. For the purposes of this audit, we defined “significant” as at least one staff performing legislative or public affairs functions for an average of 25 percent or more of their time per week in FY 2007, during the period in which they were assigned to perform these functions.
As part of our legislative and public affairs expense and staffing data request, we asked components to provide information on the number of staff detailed to or from other components. Specifically, we asked for the origin and destination of the detailed staff, the length of detail, the type of legislative or public affairs functions performed, and the type of detail arrangement, whether non-reimbursable or reimbursable.
Legislative and Public Affairs Data Analysis
We analyzed the expense information and supporting documentation provided by the components to identify miscalculations and inconsistencies, and compiled the expense data. Additionally, we:
compared the actual OLA and PAO permanent positions and FTEs to the ceilings mandated in the appropriations law,
obtained and analyzed information on the number of staff detailed to or from other components,
obtained a list of all General Schedule (GS) series 1035 Public Affairs Specialist staff within DOJ drawn from the National Finance Center personnel database, and
reconciled the list of GS-1035 Public Affairs Specialists to the public affairs expense and staffing data provided by the DOJ components and USAOs to ensure that we had received expense and staffing data for all public affairs specialists.
There is no OPM classification series for legislative affairs staff, and therefore we could not obtain a list of staff performing legislative affairs functions from the National Finance Center. As a result, we could not perform a similar analysis of the legislative affairs expense and staffing information provided by the components and USAOs in response to our data request.