April 1, 2002–September 30, 2002
Office of the Inspector General
OTHER OIG ACTIVITIES
During this reporting period, the IG testified before congressional committees three times.
- Homeland Security: Tracking International Students in Higher Education - Progress and Issues Since 9-11: The IG testified on September 24, 2002, before a joint hearing of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce's Subcommittees on 21st Century Competitiveness and Subcommittee on Select Education. The IG discussed the INS's progress in implementing SEVIS, its new Internet-based system to monitor foreign students studying in the United States.
- The INS's Implementation of the Foreign Student Tracking Program: During a September 18, 2002, hearing before the House Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims, the IG discussed the OIG's May 2002 report that examined the INS's contacts with two September 11 terrorists. The IG also discussed the significant progress the INS has made toward implementing SEVIS and identified a series of issues the INS needs to address more comprehensively in order to improve its implementation of SEVIS and its monitoring of foreign students.
- Counterterrorism and National Security Issues in the Department of Justice: The IG testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on June 6, 2002, about several ongoing and recently completed OIG reviews that relate to counterterrorism. The IG's remarks highlighted OIG audits, inspections, and special reviews that found that the Department's counterterrorism and law enforcement responsibilities require timely access to automated information and effective systems for sharing that information. In particular, OIG reviews in the INS and FBI identified mission-critical computer systems that were not adequately planned, experienced long delays in implementation, or failed to share information with other agency systems.
OIG personnel regularly provide briefings and training inside and outside the Department. For example, during this reporting period:
- OIG investigators conducted 67 Integrity Awareness Briefings for Department employees throughout the country. These briefings are designed to educate employees about the misuse of a public official's position for personal gain and to deter employees from committing such offenses. The briefings reached 1,744 employees.
- By invitation of the USAO for the Southern District of Florida, the Miami Field Office participated in the Criminal Division's Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in June 2002. The Miami Field Office presented material on conducting anti-corruption and financial investigations, developing effective prosecutor-agent relationships, and report writing.
- The special agent in charge (SAC) of the Miami Field Office was invited to be a guest speaker at the Northern District of Florida USAO Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee Conference in April 2002. This annual conference draws approximately 200 law enforcement personnel from federal, state, and local agencies. The SAC spoke about public integrity investigations and the OIG's role within the Department.
In addition to the work it conducts within the Department, the OIG participates in cooperative endeavors with other entities. Some noteworthy activities during this reporting period are described below.
- The San Diego Field Office participates, along with the FBI, DEA, U.S. Customs Service Office of Internal Affairs, and Internal Revenue Service, in the San Diego Border Corruption Task Force (BCTF) that investigates allegations of corruption against federal law enforcement officials. Of the 18 ongoing BCTF investigations, 7 were initially reported to the OIG's San Diego Field Office.
- The AIG for Investigations and the SAC of the Special Operations branch made numerous presentations to FBI and DEA management at their headquarters and in the field. The presentations focused on defining the OIG's mission, structure, jurisdictional authority, and our new oversight responsibilities as they pertain to the FBI and DEA.
- Special agents assigned to the Washington Field Office participated in a federal task force established to determine if employees working at Washington Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport obtained their Security Identification Display Area (SIDA) badges, which gave them access to secure areas of the airport, via fraud or material false statements. On April 23, 2002, the task force, which included agents from 10 agencies, arrested 94 workers at Dulles and Reagan Airports. Arrest warrants were issued for an additional 44 employees. Those arrested were indicted on charges that included falsifying the SIDA badge application, Social Security fraud, and immigration violations such as illegal re-entry after deportation, failure to depart after being deported, and falsifying information to obtain naturalization.
- The SAC of the San Diego Field Office participated in the U.S. Department of State International Visitors project and met with the chief government prosecutor for the Tong-yeoung Public Prosecutor's Office, Seoul, Korea. During the meeting, the SAC discussed the OIG's mission and the OIG concept as an anti-corruption model and explained the OIG's jurisdiction.
- The Miami Field Office continues to participate in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force in Miami, Florida. This multiagency task force investigates the drug organizations that have the greatest impact on communities. The Miami Field Office brought one such organization to the attention of the task force, and the task force has been successful in identifying corrupt Department officials who facilitated drug trafficking activities.
- Audit provided suggestions for revising the Department's Financial Statements Requirements and Preparation Guide during meetings of the Department's Financial Statement Working Group, which provides guidance to Department components on compiling consolidated and component financial statements.
- Audit also participated in the following working groups:
- Federal Audit Executive Council's Financial Statement Audit Network, which includes representatives from OMB, other Executive branch agencies, the General Accounting Office (GAO), and the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board who meet monthly to discuss common audit and accounting issues.
- An interagency group that is updating the GAO/President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE) Financial Audit Manual, which will be used by the IG community, GAO, and independent public accountants in performing federal financial statement audits.
- The Department's Chief Information Officer Council, a forum for sharing information and resolving information resource management issues that affect multiple components.
- The Department's Information Technology Security Officers Working Group, a forum for Department security personnel to learn about the latest in security vulnerabilities, technologies, and solutions; exchange information and ideas with peers throughout the Department; and improve cooperation and information sharing across components.
- E&I participated in a meeting at OMB regarding the implementation of SEVIS, the Internet-based system the INS is developing to track foreign students. Members from various Department offices, the Department of Education, and the Office of Homeland Security were in attendance to discuss OMB's concerns about the INS's proposed rule relating to the process by which schools will receive INS approval to access SEVIS. E&I staff briefed attendees on the OIG's assessment of SEVIS.
The PCIE consists of the 28 Presidentially appointed IGs in the federal government. IG Fine is a member of the PCIE's Investigations Committee and its Inspections and Evaluations Committee. He is also a member of the Intelligence Forum, a group comprised of IGs from agencies with significant intelligence operations, and the OIG has provided support to several of this group's activities. In addition, OIG staff participate in a variety of PCIE activities and serve on numerous PCIE committees and subgroups.
The IG Act directs the OIG to review proposed legislation and regulations relating to the programs and operations of the Department. Although the Department's Office of Legislative Affairs reviews all proposed or enacted legislation that could affect the Department's activities, the OIG independently reviews proposed legislation that affects it or legislation that relates to waste, fraud, or abuse in the Department's programs or operations. During this reporting period, the OIG reviewed a variety of legislation, including (1) House and Senate bills to reauthorize the Department that, among other things, would codify the Attorney General's July 2001 expansion of the OIG's investigative jurisdiction in the FBI and DEA, (2) a Senate bill that would amend the Inspector General Act to provide statutory law enforcement authority for OIG special agents engaged in their official duties, and (3) legislation to create a new Department of Homeland Security, including provisions in several draft bills to create an OIG.