|The USMS is responsible for protecting more than 2, 000 federal judges and other members of the federal judiciary; arresting federal, state, and local fugitives; protecting federal witnesses; transporting federal prisoners; managing assets seized from criminal enterprises; and responding to special assignments. The Director and Deputy Director work with 94 U.S. marshals to direct the work of approximately 4,800 employees at more than 350 locations throughout the 50 states, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.|
In September 2007, the OIG’s Evaluation and Inspections Division completed a follow-up review of the USMS’s progress in evaluating and responding to threats made against federal judges and other court personnel that the USMS protects. The earlier report, issued in March 2004, concluded that the USMS needed to take immediate steps to improve its ability to assess and respond to threats to the federal judiciary. Our September 2007 report found that, while the USMS recently has made some progress, efforts to improve its abilities to assess reported threats and identify potential threats against the judiciary languished until recently.
Our review found that as of October 1, 2006, more than 2 years after issuance of our 2004 report, the USMS had a backlog of 1,190 threat assessments. From our random sample of 568 of the 2,018 threats reported to USMS headquarters in FYs 2005 and 2006, we found that about two-thirds of the threats were not assessed within established timeliness standards. However, beginning in FY 2007 and during our follow-up review, the USMS assigned additional resources to address the backlog and assess new threats more quickly. As a result, the backlog has been eliminated. Yet, the USMS acknowledged that the assessments produced under the current process were of limited utility and further improvements to its threat assessment process were necessary. The USMS stated that it planned to change the threat assessment process in FY 2008.
Our review also found that the USMS made only limited progress with its Office of Protective Intelligence program, established, in part, to provide a centralized unit to proactively identify potential threats against federal judges, U.S. attorneys, and other court personnel. Three years after its creation, the office lacked the staff to develop protective intelligence on potential threats. Although the USMS added staff to the office beginning in May 2005, the additional resources primarily were assigned to reduce the backlog of pending threats and assess new threats rather than to proactively identify potential threats.
Our review also determined that the USMS successfully implemented a home alarm program for federal judges and as of July 2007 installed about 95 percent of the requested home alarms. An OIG survey of federal judges on safety and security issues resulted in 88 percent responding that they either were “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with the home alarm program. Additionally, 87 percent responded that they either were “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with the USMS’s performance in providing protection. In response to questions about measures the USMS should take to further improve judicial security, most judges considered improving intelligence collection and analysis capacity most important.
In addition, we found that the USMS has begun enhancing its Technical Operations Group to provide sophisticated technological support for judicial security investigations and intelligence work. The USMS also said it is developing a Rapid Deployment Team program to respond to significant incidents involving judicial security around the country.
The OIG concluded that the USMS must exhibit a greater sense of urgency in improving its capability to assess reported threats against the judiciary, creating and sharing protective intelligence on potential threats, and completing the implementation of enhanced security measures. We made six recommendations, and the USMS concurred with five.
The OIG’s Audit Division examined the USMS’s workforce management, including its efforts to ensure that an appropriate amount of resources are directed towards the component’s highest priorities, such as judicial security and fugitive apprehension.
The USMS faces significant challenges in planning its activities because the bulk of its workload is not self-initiated and instead originates from other agencies and the federal judicial system. Our review found that the USMS has improved its strategic planning and taken positive steps to refine the quantitative models used to determine its resource needs. However, we found several areas in further need of improvement, including weaknesses in the accuracy and comprehensiveness of data in some of the automated systems the USMS uses for resource planning.
The OIG determined that USMS management does not routinely review employee resource utilization reports and could not fully explain inconsistencies between the level of effort recorded and the level of effort officials believed the USMS actually expended on protective investigations, fugitive matters, and the utilization of contract guards. For example, the USMS was unaware that its data systems reflected that the USMS employed just 24 work years on judicial protective investigations in FY 2005, an issue considered a top priority by the component. In contrast, the USMS spent 981 work years on fugitive apprehension matters during the same timeframe. While the USMS believed that the statistics related to judicial protective investigations were under-reported, this highlights weaknesses in the system the USMS uses to track time spent by its workforce. The OIG determined that periodic employee resource utilization reviews would be beneficial for USMS management to assess whether it was appropriately addressing its highest priority missions.
The OIG also identified weaknesses in the USMS’s training program, including a shortage of training opportunities for USMS operational personnel and supervisors beyond their initial academy training. In addition, we found no system that accurately recorded and managed the USMS’s training activities and inadequate management of the USMS’s training funds.
The OIG made 15 recommendations to assist the USMS in improving its workforce management and planning. The USMS agreed with our recommendations and outlined a plan for corrective action.
In response to a request from the Senate Appropriations Committee, the OIG’s Evaluation and Inspections Division examined health, safety, and security conditions in areas used by the USMS in the H. Carl Moultrie I Courthouse in Washington, D.C. The Moultrie Courthouse, constructed 31 years ago, houses the District of Columbia Superior Court, Court of Appeals, and Family Court. The USMS provides security for judicial officials and prisoners in the courthouse.
Our review documented 166 serious, uncorrected failures to meet federal health, safety, and security standards in the cellblock and USMS administrative area in the courthouse. These substandard conditions created unacceptable working conditions for the USMS staff assigned to the District of Columbia Superior Court and safety risks for both staff and prisoners.
The OIG found that the District of Columbia Courts have taken some steps to address these issues, but we concluded that the substandard conditions would continue to exist until the Courts and the USMS agreed on health, safety, and security standards that applied to the space and who would be responsible for requesting funds to repair and improve the space to meet these standards.
During this reporting period, the OIG received 216 complaints involving the USMS. The most common allegations made against USMS employees included official misconduct and force, abuse, and rights violations. The OIG opened 14 investigations and referred other allegations to the USMS’s Office of Internal Affairs for review.
At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 20 open cases of alleged misconduct against USMS employees. The following is an example of a case involving the USMS that the OIG’s Investigations Division handled during this reporting period:
- An investigation by the OIG’s Dallas Field Office led to the arrest and guilty plea of a deputy U.S. marshal (DUSM) in the Southern District of Texas on charges of exceeding authorized computer access for financial gain. The investigation determined that the DUSM, a 17-year USMS employee, accepted multiple bribes totaling approximately $6,000 from a confidential informant in exchange for providing sensitive law enforcement information to the informant on numerous occasions. The DUSM resigned from his position as a result of our investigation. Sentencing is pending.