The following table summarizes OIG activities discussed in this report. As these statistics and the following highlights illustrate, the OIG continues to conduct wide-ranging oversight of Department programs and operations.
April 1, 2009 – September 30, 2009
| Allegations Received by the
|Criminal Fines/Restitutions/Assessments||$1.2 million|
|Audit Reports Issued||42|
|Questioned Costs||$2.4 million|
|Funds Put to Better Use||$172,184|
|Recommendations for Management Improvements||153|
|Single Audit Act Reports Issued||$172,184|
|Questioned Costs||$2.39 million|
|Recommendations for Management Improvements||76|
Examples of OIG audits, evaluations, and special reports completed during this semiannual reporting period include:
- The Department’s Involvement with the President’s Surveillance Program. The OIG examined the Department’s efforts regarding the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP), a program in which the President authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to engage in several different intelligence activities. Certain activities under the PSP were sometimes referred to as the Terrorist Surveillance Program. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008 required the Department OIG, a well as OIGs from four other intelligence community agencies, to conduct a comprehensive review of the program. The five OIGs issued separate classified reports, and we coordinated the drafting of an unclassified summary of the results of these reviews. Our review found that the Department inappropriately relied on a single Department attorney to conduct the initial legal assessment of the PSP, and that the lack of oversight and review of the single attorney’s work contributed to a legal analysis of the PSP that at a minimum was factually flawed. The OIG also concluded that some public statements by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the PSP at two separate congressional hearings were confusing, inaccurate, and, while not intentionally misleading, had the effect of misleading those who were not knowledgeable about the PSP.
- The FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist Nomination Process. Our audit of the FBI’s practices for nominating known or suspected terrorists to the consolidated terrorist watchlist determined that the FBI failed to nominate many subjects to the watchlist, did not nominate many others in a timely fashion, and did not update or remove certain watchlist records as required. In addition, the FBI failed to modify the nomination records to include identifying information it obtained after the initial nomination was processed. In response to our audit, the FBI has begun taking corrective actions, such as providing training to counterterrorism case agents and establishing dedicated watchlist coordinator positions in FBI field offices.
- The U.S. National Central Bureau of INTERPOL. INTERPOL assists in the exchange of law enforcement information in the United States and throughout the world, with the U.S. National Central Bureau (USNCB) serving as INTERPOL’s liaison for the United States. The OIG identified several weaknesses in the USNCB’s operations, including that it had not made critical international criminal information available to law enforcement agencies in the United States and had not implemented adequate controls or processes to ensure that the INTERPOL information it makes available to U.S. law enforcement agencies is current, accurate, complete, and timely. We also identified weaknesses in the oversight, supervision, and leadership structure of the USNCB.
- Staff Sexual Abuse of Inmates. Our review of the Department’s efforts to prevent staff sexual abuse of inmates in federal prisons found that allegations of criminal sexual abuse and non-criminal sexual misconduct at BOP institutions more than doubled from FY 2001 through FY 2008. Our review also found that deterrence and detection of staff sexual abuse are hampered by the practice at some prisons of automatically isolating, segregating, or transferring victims, measures inmates often regard as punitive. We also concluded the BOP needs to improve staff training, inmate education, and program oversight. In addition, some prosecutors expressed a general reluctance to prosecute certain staff sexual abuse cases, and we concluded that training federal prosecutors on the detrimental impact of staff sexual abuse on inmates, other prison staff, and prison security would improve the Department’s effectiveness in prosecuting these cases.
- The FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordinator Program. The OIG examined the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Coordinator Program and found weaknesses in the role of WMD Coordinators in FBI field offices. The OIG review found that FBI field offices have not uniformly identified and targeted the most significant WMD threats in their regions. Our audit also found that the FBI has not ensured that WMD Coordinators receive sufficient intelligence support or the specialized and technical training necessary to carry out their critical mission.
- ATF’s Efforts to Investigate Tobacco Diversion. The OIG examined ATF’s efforts to investigate the illegal diversion of tobacco to evade taxes. The rate of tobacco diversion has increased significantly in recent years, resulting in the loss of several billion dollars in federal, state, and local tax revenue. However, from FY 2004 through FY 2008 tobacco diversion investigations comprised less than 1 percent of ATF’s total caseload and the Alcohol and Tobacco Diversion Program represented only 2 percent of ATF’s total budget, even though the value of seizures from its tobacco diversion cases during the same time period made up 46 percent of the total value of seizures from all ATF investigations. We found that ATF’s efforts to combat tobacco diversion are ad hoc, that ATF lacks a clear understanding of the scope of diversion activity across its field divisions, and that ATF does not adequately support the field divisions’ diversion investigations.
- ATF’s Project Gunrunner. We examined ATF’s plans to use Recovery Act funds and other funds to expand Project Gunrunner, ATF’s national initiative to reduce firearms trafficking to Mexico. Our report concluded that some ATF decisions on where to place new Gunrunner teams do not appear to represent the best use of resources to reduce firearms trafficking. We also found that ATF has not hired enough personnel who are proficient in Spanish for the new Gunrunner teams, and program measures that ATF developed are insufficient to fully evaluate the impact the new Gunrunner teams will have on ATF’s ability to combat firearms trafficking and related violence along the Southwest border.
- Review of the FBI’s Disciplinary System. The OIG reviewed whether the FBI has imposed consistent, reasonable, and timely discipline on its employees who committed misconduct. We concluded the FBI’s investigations of misconduct generally were thorough and conducted in a consistent manner, and they have improved in their timeliness. However, we also found that potential misconduct was not consistently reported, as required by FBI policy, to FBI headquarters or to the OIG. In addition, while disciplinary decisions generally were reasonable, some of the decisions about which penalties to impose contained inconsistencies that could not be explained by the record in the case files. We also found that although the number of substantiated SES cases that were appealed during our entire review period was small, the evidence indicated that SES employees were treated more leniently on appeal than non-SES employees, and that this more lenient treatment was not justified. We also found that the FBI did not ensure that employees who were suspended for misconduct actually served their suspensions.
As shown in the statistics in the table at the beginning of this section, the OIG investigates many allegations of misconduct involving Department employees or contractors or grantees who receive Department money. Examples of the OIG’s investigations discussed in this semiannual report include:
A joint investigation by the OIG’s New York Field Office and the FBI resulted in the incarceration of a former BOP correctional officer for sexual abuse of a female ward and plotting with the female inmate to murder his wife. A subsequent investigation by the OIG’s Miami Field Office determined that, shortly after beginning his 15-year sentence, the former correctional officer solicited assistance from inmates in a scheme to murder his wife, his wife’s current boyfriend, the female inmate from the previous investigation, and the OIG Special Agent who investigated the original case. According to a criminal complaint filed against the former correctional officer, he provided an OIG undercover agent with physical descriptions of each victim, their geographical locations, specific instructions as to what he wanted done, and an initial payment for the murders from his BOP inmate account.
An OIG investigation led to the indictment of a DEA Special Agent on charges of obstruction of justice, false statements, perjury, and violating individuals’ civil rights, as well as a guilty plea by a Richland County, Ohio, Sheriff’s detective to a civil rights violation. According to the indictment, the DEA Special Agent intentionally provided false statements and suppressed evidence against 17 individuals during the course of 13 controlled drug buys, resulting in the arrest of these 17 individuals. In addition, the detective provided false testimony against one of those individuals. Judicial proceedings continue against the DEA Special Agent, while sentencing is pending for the detective.
An investigation led to the arrest of an FBI Special Agent on charges of dealing firearms without a license, maintaining false firearms records, and making a false statement. According to the indictment, the FBI Special Agent, who was not a licensed firearms dealer, posted at least 280 firearms for sale using an Internet web site, purchased at least 54 firearms, and sold at least 51 of those firearms for a total of more than $118,000. Judicial proceedings continue.
An audit and subsequent investigation by the OIG led to a settlement agreement in which the National Training and Information Center (NTIC), based in Chicago, Illinois, paid the federal government $550,000 to settle a case under the civil False Claims Act. NTIC, a non-profit corporation, misused $207,131 in grant funds over a 3-year period by paying for employees and sub-grantees to travel to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress for future grant funds, in violation of federal regulations and the terms of the grant. In a previous criminal case arising out of these allegations, the Executive Director of NTIC pled guilty to theft of federal program funds and was sentenced to 5 months’ incarceration.
An investigation resulted in the conviction of two staff accountants and a public relations associate employed by the National Children’s Alliance on charges of theft of Department grant funds. The employees each stole between $10,000 and $15,000 in Department grant funds by giving themselves additional paychecks.
OIG investigations led to the arrest of eight correctional officers assigned to a BOP contract facility on charges of bribery of a public official. The correctional officers accepted multiple monetary bribes from inmates in exchange for smuggling contraband, including cell phones, MP3 players, tobacco, and marijuana, into the contract detention center. Five of the eight correctional officers were convicted and received sentences ranging from 24 to 46 months’ incarceration. Judicial proceedings continue for the three remaining correctional officers.
OIG investigations resulted in the sentencing of a BOP nurse and two nursing assistants on charges of sexual abuse of wards or making a false statement about that relationship. OIG investigators determined that the nurse and nursing assistants had ongoing sexual relationships with an inmate under their custodial supervision and control. One of the nursing assistants and the nurse pled guilty to sexual abuse of a ward, while the other nursing assistant pled guilty to making a false entry in an official document denying the sexual relationship. The three employees each were sentenced to 3 years’ probation and ordered to perform community service.
An investigation resulted in the arrest and guilty plea of an office automation clerk assigned to the USAO in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on charges of fraud and identity theft. OIG investigators determined that the clerk fraudulently used personally identifiable information from individuals prosecuted by USAO to obtain 188 online “payday loans” in their names totaling more than $34,000. Sentencing is pending.
This report also describes ongoing OIG reviews throughout the Department, including:
The FBI’s use of exigent letters and other informal requests for telephone records
The coordination of explosives investigations by the FBI and ATF
The FBI’s efforts to combat national cyber threats
The Department’s efforts to combat gangs and gang violence
The FBI’s foreign language translation program
The Department’s preparations for responding to a weapons of mass destruction attack
Protection of the federal judiciary and federal prosecutors
The DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center