The following table summarizes Office of the Inspector General (OIG) activities discussed in this report. As these statistics and the following highlights illustrate, the OIG continues to conduct wide-ranging oversight of Department of Justice (Department) programs and operations.
|April 1, 2010 - September 30, 2010|
|Allegations Received by the Investigations Division||5,976|
|Audit Reports Issued||52|
|Questioned Costs||$20.3 million|
|Funds Put to Better Use||$1.75 million|
|Recommendations for Management Improvements||301|
|Single Audit Act Reports Issued||64|
|Questioned Costs||$1.37 million|
|Recommendations for Management Improvements||152|
Examples of OIG audits, evaluations, and special reports completed during this semiannual reporting period include:
- The Department’s Preparation to Respond to a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Incident. The OIG examined the readiness of the Department and its components to respond to a potential WMD incident. We also examined the readiness of Department field offices to respond in a coordinated way to a WMD incident in the greater Washington area. We found that the FBI had taken appropriate steps to prepare to respond to a potential WMD attack, but the Department as a whole and its other components had not implemented adequate WMD response plans. In response to our report, the Department assigned to the Associate Deputy Attorney General for National Security the responsibility for coordinating all Department policies associated with continuity of operations, continuity of government, and emergency response at the scene of an incident. The Department also established a committee to develop policy, training, and strategies to ensure that the Department is prepared to respond to a WMD event.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Investigations of Certain Domestic Advocacy Groups. This OIG review examined FBI investigations related to certain domestic advocacy groups and individuals, including: (1) the Thomas Merton Center (a “peace and social justice center” in Pittsburgh); (2) People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA); (3) Greenpeace USA; (4) The Catholic Worker (a pacifist organization with numerous local chapters); and (5) Glen Milner, an individual described as a Quaker peace activist. The OIG review did not find that the FBI targeted any of the groups for investigation on the basis of their First Amendment activities. However, the OIG concluded that the factual basis for opening some of the investigations of individuals associated with the groups was factually weak. In some cases, the FBI extended the duration of investigations involving advocacy groups or their members without adequate basis, and in a few instances the FBI improperly retained information about the groups in its files. The FBI also classified some investigations related to nonviolent civil disobedience under its “Acts of Terrorism” classification, which resulted in the watchlisting of subjects during the investigation. We made five recommendations to help ensure that if the FBI investigates groups or individuals in connection with their exercise of First Amendment rights, it does so in strict compliance with Attorney General Guidelines.
- Allegations of Cheating on the FBI’s Domestic Investigation and Operations Guide Exam. The OIG examined allegations that some FBI employees cheated when taking a mandatory exam designed to test their knowledge of the FBI’s “Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide” (DIOG). The DIOG, which describes the procedures FBI employees must follow when conducting domestic investigations, took effect in 2008. In our limited investigation of the allegations, we found that a significant number of FBI employees had engaged in some form of cheating or improper conduct on the DIOG exam, some in clear violation of FBI directives regarding the exam. Some FBI employees consulted with others while taking the exam when that was specifically forbidden by the test-taking protocols. Others used or distributed answer sheets or study guides that essentially provided the answers to the test. A few exploited a programming flaw to reveal the answers to the exams. Almost all of those who cheated falsely certified on the final question of the exam that they had not consulted with others. We recommended that the FBI take action regarding those who cheated on the DIOG exam, consider other appropriate steps to determine whether other test takers engaged in similar inappropriate conduct, and conduct a new exam on the DIOG.
- The FBI’s Laboratory’s Forensic DNA Case Backlog. This OIG report found that the FBI Laboratory’s backlog of forensic DNA cases is large and growing. This backlog and delay in receiving results can delay legal proceedings that are waiting on the results of forensic DNA analysis, prevent the timely capture of criminals, prolong the incarceration of innocent people who could be exonerated by DNA evidence, and adversely affect families of missing persons waiting for positive identification of remains. The report noted that the FBI is pursuing various strategies to reduce the forensic DNA case backlog and minimize workflow bottlenecks, such as implementing a laboratory information management system, strategic management of cases, and human resource initiatives. We made five recommendations to help improve the FBI Laboratory’s DNA case backlog, and the FBI concurred with these recommendations.
- The Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) Furlough Program. The OIG issued a report evaluating the BOP’s furlough program, which allows BOP inmates authorized absences from institutions without an escort. We found that the BOP’s furlough policy has not been updated since 1998 and does not, for example, require BOP staff to notify victims and witnesses when an inmate is released on a medical furlough. In 2003, the BOP drafted a new furlough policy but has not implemented it because it believes it must negotiate these changes in the policy with the BOP union. While the BOP agreed with the recommendation in our report to issue a revised furlough policy, the BOP estimated that the negotiation and implementation of such a policy would not be finalized until December 2017. This delay translates into a 14-year time lag to implement improvements to its furlough policy that are essential for victims’ rights. The OIG report included seven recommendations to the BOP, including that the BOP develop a more effective mechanism for negotiating with the union on required policy changes. The BOP concurred with our recommendations, but we consider the audit unresolved because of the lengthy timeframe the BOP proposed for implementing them.
- The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC). The OIG examined the work of EPIC, a DEA-run, multi-agency center that provides federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies with intelligence on drug smuggling and other criminal activities, primarily along the Southwest border. Our review found that EPIC’s partner agencies and users regard its products and services as valuable and useful, but we identified weaknesses in EPIC operations and programs. For example, EPIC does not analyze some information that it alone collects. As a result, EPIC may be overlooking drug trafficking trends and patterns that could assist law enforcement agencies in their interdiction investigations and operations. Our report made 11 recommendations to improve EPIC’s utility to the law enforcement and intelligence communities. The DEA and the Department stated that they concurred with our recommendations and have begun implementing corrective actions.
- The FBI’s Personnel Resource Management and Casework. This OIG report examined the FBI’s allocation and utilization of personnel resources and casework by specific investigative areas. In this review, we determined that the FBI used field agents in line with the number it had allocated to its highest national priorities, such as counterterrorism and counterintelligence. However, the FBI used fewer field agents than it had allocated to other priorities, such as violent crime. The FBI also continued to experience substantial gaps in filling its intelligence analyst positions, which FBI officials attributed to attrition and delays in the hiring process. Our review also determined that the FBI had improved its ability to monitor and evaluate its allocation and utilization of personnel resources by establishing a Resource Planning Office, developing an extensive management information system, and implementing initiatives to increase monitoring efforts. Our report made 10 additional recommendations, and the FBI concurred with all of them.
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:
- An investigation by the OIG’s Miami Field Office led to the conviction of a BOP inmate incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Complex (FCC Coleman) in Coleman, Florida, on charges of soliciting and attempting to murder a witness and an OIG special agent. The inmate, formerly a BOP correctional officer in Danbury, Connecticut, previously had been convicted and sentenced to 15 years’ incarceration for sexual abuse of a female ward when he was a correctional officer and for plotting with a female inmate to murder his wife. Shortly after beginning his sentence in FCC Coleman, the former correctional officer solicited assistance from inmates to try to murder his estranged wife, her boyfriend, the female inmate from the previous investigation, and the OIG special agent who had investigated the original case. In the OIG investigation, the former correctional officer provided an OIG undercover agent with physical descriptions of each target of his plot, their geographical locations, specific instructions as to how to commit the murders, and an initial payment for the murders of $500 from his BOP inmate account. The former correctional officer was charged and convicted for this plot, and he was sentenced to 90 years’ incarceration to run consecutive with his current 15-year sentence.
- An investigation by the OIG’s Dallas Field Office and the FBI resulted in the arrest of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) special agent pursuant to an indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana; possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute; possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking offense; and money laundering. The investigation revealed that the ATF special agent and several Tulsa police officers had planted drug evidence on suspects they arrested; falsely swore to search warrants affidavits; stole drugs and money from the suspects; coerced individuals to distribute stolen drugs; split the proceeds from their illegal activities; and testified falsely in court about their arrests of the suspects. The ATF special agent pled guilty to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and awaits sentencing.
- An investigation conducted by the OIG’s Washington Field Office led to the arrest and guilty plea of an FBI management support specialist in the Eastern District of Virginia for possession of child pornography. The OIG investigation found that the management support specialist used the FBI’s computer network to facilitate sexually explicit e-mail communications with parties identifying themselves as minors. In addition, the investigation determined that the management support specialist possessed on his home computer images depicting minor victims engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The management support specialist was sentenced to 46 months of incarceration followed by 15 years of supervised release, with sex offender monitoring and conditions.
- An investigation by the OIG’s Houston Area Office resulted in the arrest and guilty plea of a BOP correctional officer assigned to the U.S. Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana, on charges of bribery, possessing or providing contraband in prison, and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance (cocaine). The investigation determined that the correctional officer smuggled contraband, including a cellular telephone, marijuana, tobacco, and prescription medications, into the U.S. Penitentiary and that he received approximately $20,000 in bribes from inmates and inmate family members for the contraband. The correctional officer was arrested following an undercover operation wherein he accepted $26,000, 7 ounces of cocaine, a handgun, and ammunition from an undercover agent in return for his agreement to smuggle contraband into the institution. He was sentenced to 41 months’ incarceration followed by 36 months of supervised release.
- An investigation by the OIG’s Los Angeles Field Office resulted in the arrest of a BOP warden on charges of making false statements and disclosing confidential government information. The indictment asserted that the warden made a false statement to OIG special agents when he denied making Internet postings that disclosed confidential government information concerning criminal investigations at the prison, and that the warden disclosed confidential government information concerning a BOP employee who was suspected of being involved with an inmate gambling scheme and concerning a homicide that occurred at the prison in August 2009. The warden has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the investigation. Judicial proceedings continue.
This report also describes ongoing OIG reviews, including reviews of:
- The ATF’s implementation of Project Gunrunner, an ATF initiative to combat firearms trafficking to Mexico and associated violence along the Southwest border.
- The FBI’s efforts to combat national security cyber threats.
- The operation of the Federal Prison Industries’ electronic waste recycling program.
- The enforcement of civil rights laws by the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division.
- The Executive Office for Immigration Review’s (EOIR) efforts to reduce the backlog of cases in its immigration courts.
- The FBI’s Use of National Security Letters and Section 215 Orders for business records.