Semiannual Report to Congress
October 1, 2006-March 31, 2007
Office of the Inspector General
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, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Northern Mariana Islands. More than 10,800 employees work in those offices and in the EOUSA.
Critical Incident Response Plans
During this reporting period the OIG issued a follow-up report to our 2003 review of USAOs’ Critical Incident Response Plans. Each USAO is responsible for developing its Critical Incident Response Plan to respond quickly and appropriately to critical incidents, including acts of terrorism, hostage situations, and natural disasters. Our 2003 review found that a model plan the Department prepared for USAOs to follow while implementing their own response plans was deficient in several aspects, and that USAOs generally did not follow the standard practice of conducting regular critical incident response exercises.
Our current review found that, while USAOs, EOUSA, and the Department’s Counterterrorism Section (CTS) had taken important steps to improve USAOs’ preparedness, most USAOs have since regressed in their required Critical Incident Response Plan activities, and EOUSA and CTS are not providing USAOs with necessary direction and support.
Since our 2003 review, the Department revised its model plan to address the OIG’s recommendations. All 93 USAOs had conducted at least one critical incident preparation exercise and completed an after-action report, and 53 had conducted 2 or more exercises between May 2004 and November 2006. In addition, we found that the Department has provided improved training and guidance to USAOs’ Crisis Management Coordinators, who are the designated persons in each district responsible for implementing and overseeing their district’s response plan.
In this follow-up review, USAOs from the Gulf Coast reported that conducting critical incident response exercises proved invaluable in producing timely decision making by managers during the hurricanes in 2004 and 2005. However, we also found that many USAOs have regressed in some of their required Critical Incident Response Plan activities. For example, contrary to the revised guidelines, many USAOs have not continued to conduct critical incident response exercises on an annual basis or continued to complete after-action reports after conducting exercises.
The OIG made seven recommendations to help the Department continue to improve USAOs’ ability to respond quickly and appropriately to critical incidents. The Department concurred with all of the recommendations.
The following is an example of a case involving USAOs that the OIG’s Investigations Division investigated during this reporting period:
An investigation by the OIG’s Tucson Area Office resulted in the resignation of an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA). The investigation determined that the AUSA, while representing the Department at a training seminar, groped and made unwanted sexual advances toward a female trainer. During his interviews with OIG investigators, the AUSA provided conflicting statements regarding his interaction with the woman. When confronted about his conflicting statements, the AUSA resigned in lieu of prosecution.
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