Semiannual Report to Congress
October 1, 2005-March 31, 2006
Office of the Inspector General
COPS was created as a result of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to advance community policing in jurisdictions of all sizes across the country. COPS provides grants to tribal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to hire and train community policing professionals, acquire and deploy crime-fighting technologies, and develop and test innovative policing strategies.
The OIG’s Audit Division examined COPS’ administration of the Department’s grant program to stem the production, distribution, and use of methamphetamine. Over the past 8 years, Congress has appropriated more than $200 million for grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to combat methamphetamine. The OIG review found significant deficiencies in COPS’ administration of the methamphetamine grant program, in its monitoring of grantee activities, and in the way individual grantees administered their grants.
Between FYs 1998 and 2005, Congress appropriated $385.6 million for the Methamphetamine Initiative. Of this total, COPS transferred almost $125 million to the DEA for the removal and disposal of hazardous materials from clandestine methamphetamine laboratories, reimbursed OJP $46.6 million for several Methamphetamine Initiative grants it administered on behalf of COPS, and distributed the balance of $214 million to state and local entities through the grant process. More than 84 percent ($179 million) of the state and local grant funds distributed by COPS were earmarks under which Congress designated that a specific project or entity should receive the funds.
The OIG audit found weaknesses in COPS’ management and administrative controls related to the Methamphetamine Initiative. Specifically, we identified a lack of coordination between COPS officials, weaknesses in the database that COPS uses to manage and track grants, and insufficient and inconsistent monitoring of grantees. For example, since FY 1998 only 15 of the 179 Methamphetamine Initiative grantees have received an on-site visit by COPS.
Since FY 2002, the congressional earmarks have included an instruction for COPS to scrutinize the proposed projects, consult with the DEA, and award the funds if warranted. However, we found that COPS has not consulted with the DEA about potential grants before awarding the earmarked funds. Furthermore, while some states with high numbers of reported methamphetamine incidents received significant funds through the Methamphetamine Initiative, other states with similar levels of reported methamphetamine incidents received lower levels of funding.
In addition to examining the overall administration of the methamphetamine grant program, OIG audits of 44 individual state and local grants – totaling more than $56 million awarded to 13 grantees – identified $9.5 million in questioned costs and numerous accounting and internal control weaknesses. Our report contained 17 recommendations that focus on specific steps COPS should take to improve the management and administration of the Methamphetamine Initiative, including implementing procedures for the administration and oversight of entities receiving funding as well as evaluating the effectiveness of the grant program as a whole.
The OIG completed several audits of methamphetamine grants awarded by COPS. Examples of findings from these audits issued during this reporting period included the following:
U.S. Attorneys serve as the federal government's principal criminal and civil litigators and conduct most of the trial work in which the United States is a party. Under the direction of the Attorney General, 93 U.S. Attorneys are stationed throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. More than 11,700 employees work in those offices and in the EOUSA.
USAO intelligence research specialists coordinate antiterrorism activities, analyze the relevance and reliability of threat information and investigative leads, and seek to ensure that cases with terrorism connections are identified for prosecution. Each USAO was allocated at least one intelligence research specialist after the September 11, 2001, terrorism attacks.
The OIG’s Evaluation and Inspections Division reviewed the role and functions of USAO intelligence research specialists and found that individually the specialists made valuable contributions to the USAOs’ antiterrorism efforts. However, their overall effectiveness could be increased through improved coordination and guidance at the regional and Departmental levels. For example, the specialists’ efforts to collect intelligence information related to antiterrorism cases and the work products they produced differed markedly from USAO to USAO, making it more difficult for users to identify and act on the intelligence the products conveyed. In addition, the specialists relied on policy guidance that was outdated and disorganized. Further, analytical products developed by the specialists were not consistently reviewed or widely disseminated within the Department.
The OIG made eight recommendations to the EOUSA to improve the USAOs’ use of intelligence research specialists, including: 1) identify and provide the standard tools specialists need, define the types of work products specialists should produce, and establish quality standards for those products; 2) provide specialists with current and complete policy guidance; 3) survey users of specialists’ work to ascertain its applicability and quality and identify areas for improvement; and 4) reassess the specialists’ role and duties in light of the pending reorganization of the Department’s intelligence activities.
The EOUSA concurred with all of our recommendations.
The following is an example of a case involving the USAO that the OIG’s Investigations Division investigated during this reporting period: