The following summaries highlight some of the Office of the Inspector General's (OIG) audits, evaluations, inspections, special reviews, and investigations, which are discussed further in this report. As the highlights illustrate, the OIG continues to conduct wide-ranging oversight of Department of Justice (Department) programs and operations.
|October 1, 2010 – March 31, 2011|
|Allegations Received by the Investigations Division||5,499|
|Audit Reports Issued||41|
|Questioned Costs||$12.85 million|
|Funds Put to Better Use||$900|
|Recommendations for Management Improvements||143|
|Single Audit Act Reports Issued||48|
|Questioned Costs||$1.65 million|
|Recommendations for Management Improvements||121|
Audits, Evaluations, Inspections, and Special Reviews Highlights
Examples of OIG audits, evaluations, inspections, and special reviews completed during this semiannual reporting period include:
- U.S. Attorney Travel that Exceeded the Government Lodging Rate. This OIG review examined official travel by U.S. Attorneys that exceeded the federal government lodging rate. Our review determined that the large majority of U.S. Attorneys rarely or never sought reimbursement above the government rate for lodging. However, we identified five U.S. Attorneys who exhibited noteworthy patterns of improperly exceeding the government rate without sufficient justification. We also identified troubling incidents of other U.S. Attorneys seeking reimbursement for lodging above the government rate without justification. We found that, to some extent, deficiencies in Department travel policies contributed to the improper lodging reimbursements for U.S. Attorneys. Our report made four recommendations for additional action to the Justice Management Division (JMD) and Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) to improve their travel practices and controls, which we believe would help prevent recurrences of the inappropriate travel practices that are described in the report.
- Project Gunrunner. The OIG’s review found that after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) launched Project Gunrunner to combat gun trafficking along the Southwest border in 2006, it increased its seizures of firearms, investigations, inspections, and other activities related to trafficking, but significant weaknesses undermined Gunrunner’s effectiveness. ATF was not routinely sharing intelligence internally or with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or Mexican authorities. ATF was focused primarily on low-level members of trafficking conspiracies and had been unable to expand gun tracing throughout Mexico to help track recovered guns to their sources. ATF lacked the resources to meet Mexican government needs for training and support and had a backlog of information requests from Mexican authorities that hindered ATF’s coordination with Mexican law enforcement. ATF also lacked a coordinated approach because it had not integrated the Gunrunner activities of its four Southwest border divisions and its Mexico Country Office. We made 15 recommendations to help ATF improve its implementation of Gunrunner. ATF concurred with all OIG recommendations.
- Judicial Facilities Security Program. The OIG examined the U.S. Marshals Service’s (USMS) efforts to provide security at federal court facilities under the Judicial Facilities Security Program. This program provides over 5,000 privately contracted court security officers (CSO) and contracted security systems and equipment at more than 400 U.S. federal court facilities. Our report disclosed that not all CSOs received comprehensive training on the use of security screening equipment, some district offices failed to conduct required testing of security procedures, and several district offices failed to detect mock explosive devices sent by the USMS headquarters for testing purposes. We also found instances where security features of new equipment were not being used and that the USMS awarded a nearly $300 million contract to a CSO contractor with a history of fraudulent activities, despite an earlier fraud alert issued by the OIG’s Investigations Division. We made 15 recommendations to the USMS to help improve its Judicial Facilities Security Program, and the USMS concurred with these recommendations.
- Sentinel VII. The OIG continued to review the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) progress towards the full implementation of Sentinel, its new information and investigative case management system. As of August 2010, the FBI had spent about $405 million of Sentinel’s $451 million budget but delivered only two of Sentinel’s four phases to FBI agents and analysts. Sentinel’s third and fourth phases remain unfinished and as a result, FBI agents and analysts lack expanded capabilities to search FBI case files or use Sentinel to manage evidence, as originally intended. At the conclusion of our audit in September 2010, the FBI told the OIG that it would assume direct management of Sentinel development and significantly reduce Lockheed Martin’s project development role. Regardless of the new approach, we noted that Sentinel’s technical requirements are now 6 years old, and significant advances in technology and changes to the FBI’s work processes have occurred during that time. We made three recommendations, including that the FBI reassess whether new, less costly ways could achieve the functionality described in Sentinel’s original requirements and that the FBI reinstitute certain project management activities. The FBI agreed with these recommendations.
- Intergovernmental Agreement Detention Space Negotiation Process. The OIG examined efforts by the USMS and the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee (OFDT) to negotiate intergovernmental agreements (IGA) with state and local government detention facilities to house federal detainees. IGA negotiations result in a “jail-day rate,” a predetermined daily cost to house a federal detainee at state and local facilities. IGA detention costs have increased by 19 percent from $743 million in FY 2005 to $888 million in FY 2010, even though the detention population housed in state and local facilities has remained relatively constant. We found deficiencies in the USMS’s and the OFDT’s current negotiation strategy tools, such as to consistently use a facility’s operating expense data to negotiate lower jail-day rates. We also identified instances where some state and local governments took advantage of circumstances such as detention space shortages to demand unjustifiable increased jail-day rates. The USMS and OFDT agreed with the majority of the recommendations we made to help the USMS and the OFDT better negotiate, justify, and document IGA jail-day rates.
- The Federal Prison Industries’ Electronic Waste Recycling Program. The OIG issued a report examining the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) electronic waste (e-waste) recycling program. The BOP’s e-waste program is run by Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR), a government corporation within the BOP that employs staff and inmates at federal prisons throughout the United States. It accepts computers, monitors, printers, and other types of e-waste for recycling at federal prisons. When e-waste is disassembled and recycled, workers can be exposed to toxic metals that can cause serious health implications. The OIG’s investigation found that when UNICOR began the program, it did not implement adequate measures to address the safety of staff and inmates who were employed in the program. As a result, staff and inmates at several BOP institutions were exposed to levels of the toxic metals cadmium and lead that exceeded Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. The OIG’s investigation determined that beginning in 2003, UNICOR took steps to improve the health, safety, and environmental compliance performance of the e-waste program. However, despite these steps, our investigation found that prior to 2009, UNICOR failed to institute adequate policies in a timely manner to protect staff and inmates from the hazards associated with e-waste recycling, to advise staff and inmates properly about hazards once they were identified and to correct them, and to conduct e-waste operations in compliance with applicable health, safety, and environmental regulations. By 2009, with limited exceptions, UNICOR’s e-waste operations were compliant with OSHA requirements and were being operated safely. However, we concluded that additional improvements are needed in UNICOR’s e-waste operations, and our report provided 12 recommendations to the BOP and the Department which the BOP agreed to implement.
As shown in the statistics at the beginning of this section and in the chart below, the OIG investigates many allegations of misconduct involving Department employees, 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 Detroit Area Office, the ATF’s Internal Affairs Division, and the DEA Cleveland Resident Office resulted in the arrest and guilty plea of an ATF special agent, assigned to the ATF Columbus Field Division, to charges of embezzlement. The investigation determined that during the execution of a multi-agency search warrant at a residence in Ohio, the special agent stole $46,875 in cash that had been hidden in the master bedroom. The special agent resigned his position with ATF as a result of the OIG investigation. The ATF agent was sentenced to 12 months plus one day of incarceration followed by 36 months’ supervised release.
- In our September 2008 Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported on a joint investigation by the OIG’s Oversight and Review Division, FBI’s Washington Field Office, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, and Public Integrity and Fraud Sections of the Criminal Division that led to the September 2008 indictment of Kevin A. Ring, a former lobbyist who worked with Jack A. Abramoff, on public corruption and obstruction of justice charges. On November 15, 2010, a federal jury convicted Ring on five counts related to a scheme to corrupt public officials, including Department officials. The jury found Ring guilty on one count of conspiracy, one count of paying an illegal gratuity, and three counts of honest services wire fraud. Ring faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison for conspiracy, 2 years in prison for payment of a gratuity, and 20 years in prison for each of the 3 counts of honest services wire fraud. Ring could also be ordered to pay a fine of up to $250,000 on each count of conviction. A trial is scheduled in May for the remaining two obstruction of justice charges.
- An investigation by the OIG’s Los Angeles Field Office led to the arrest of a BOP correctional officer assigned to the Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) in Victorville, California, and a UNICOR vendor on conspiracy and bribery charges. The investigation determined that the correctional officer, who also served as a UNICOR contract specialist, used his position to gain monetary rewards by violating the federal procurement standards and bidding processes. The contract specialist devised a sophisticated scheme through which at least $1 million in federal contracts were awarded to the UNICOR vendor with whom he had a personal relationship. In turn, the UNICOR vendor paid $140,000 in kickbacks to the contract specialist and his accomplices, one of whom has already pled guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
- An investigation conducted by the OIG’s Washington Field Office led to the arrest and guilty plea of a former USMS administrative officer to theft of $104,000 in government funds. The former administrative officer admitted that from 2002 to November 2008, she unlawfully used a USMS credit card for personal expenses totaling approximately $15,000; created a fictitious employee in the USMS payroll system and submitted falsified time and attendance records for the employee resulting in fraudulent payments to her totaling $31,000; facilitated the issuance of $51,000 in U.S. Treasury checks to pay down the balance on a personal credit card and disguised the theft with fraudulent business invoices she created to make the payments appear legitimate; and converted an additional $7,000 in U.S. Treasury checks to pay the balance on another personal credit card. Prior to this investigation, the former administrative officer had left the USMS in November 2008 and obtained employment with the DEA in a similar capacity. The former USMS administrative officer resigned from the DEA during this investigation. Sentencing in pending.
- An investigation by the OIG’s Dallas Field Office resulted in the arrests of two BOP correctional officers assigned to the Eden Detention Center in Eden, Texas, based on an indictment returned in the Northern District of Texas charging destruction, alteration, and falsification of records in a federal investigation. The indictment alleges that the correctional officers made false entries on prison cell logs that impeded the investigation of an attempted suicide by a high-risk inmate. The correctional officers were dismissed from their positions by the Eden Detention Center as a result of our investigation.
- An investigation by the OIG’s New York Field Office led to the arrest of the former executive director of the Rape and Victim Assistance Center in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, on an indictment returned in the Middle District of Pennsylvania charging her with embezzlement of Department grant funds. The investigation determined that the executive director embezzled over $100,000 from two grants awarded by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Office for Victims of Crimes (OVC), and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). From June 2006 to June 2008, the executive director allegedly diverted these funds from their intended use, supporting victims of crimes against women, and instead spent the money on personal matters. The executive director was dismissed from her position in December 2008.
- In our March 2010 Semiannual Report to Congress we reported on a joint investigation by the OIG’s Fraud Detection Office and the FBI that led to the arrest of the chief of police for the Law Enforcement Department of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians and his office manager on grant fraud conspiracy charges. The investigation determined the chief of police conspired with his office manager to steal $242,230 in grant funds from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). The police chief allegedly used the grant funds to purchase items for his or his family’s personal use, such as vehicles, jet skis, and recreational activities. The office manager was not charged with receiving any funds for personal use, but pled guilty to conspiring to conceal the theft from COPS. During this reporting period, the former chief of police was sentenced to 12 months and one day of imprisonment followed by 2 years of supervised release and ordered to pay $231,785 in restitution pursuant to his guilty plea to grant fraud conspiracy charges. The office manager was previously sentenced to 10 months’ home confinement followed by 3 years of probation.
- An investigation by the OIG’s Dallas Field Office resulted in the arrest and guilty plea of a Deputy U.S. Marshal in the Southern District of Texas to a charge of misuse of a government computer. The investigation determined that the Deputy U.S. Marshal placed an electronic tracking device owned by the USMS on the personally owned vehicle of the Deputy U.S. Marshal’s former wife. The use of the USMS tracking device was not related to any USMS or other law enforcement investigation and the Deputy U.S. Marshal did not have authorization to place it on his former wife’s car. The Deputy U.S. Marshal used his government-issued computer to electronically track his former wife’s vehicle for more than 15 days. He was sentenced to 24 months of supervised release, fined $5,000, and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
- An investigation by the OIG’s New Jersey Area Office, in conjunction with the Burlington, New Jersey, Police Department, led to the arrest of a BOP senior correctional officer assigned to the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Fort Dix, New Jersey, on Florida state charges of solicitation of a minor via computer. The joint investigation determined that the senior correctional officer engaged in online and cellular telephone communication with an undercover Orlando police officer representing herself to be a 14 year-old girl. The senior correctional officer solicited sexual activity in the communications. He was placed on administrative leave by the BOP.
- An investigation by the OIG’s Boston Area Office led to the arrest of a former legal assistant at the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the District of Vermont based on an indictment charging obstruction of justice and making false statements. The investigation determined that while she was employed as a legal assistant, she provided USAO case information, including the identities of grand jury witnesses, to the target of a DEA case being prosecuted in the District of Vermont. As a result of the former legal assistant’s unauthorized disclosure, a grand jury witness was threatened in connection with the witness’ expected testimony in the case.
This report also describes ongoing OIG reviews, including reviews of:
- The ATF’s firearms trafficking investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious, and other investigations with similar objectives, methods, and strategies.
- The Civil Rights Division’s enforcement of civil rights laws by its Voting Section.
- The FBI’s management of the terrorist watchlist nominations process and encounters with watchlisted individuals.
- The FBI’s ongoing efforts to reduce its DNA laboratory convicted offender backlog.
- The Executive Office for Immigration Review’s (EOIR) efforts to reduce the backlog of cases in its immigration courts.
- The FBI and the National Security Division’s (NSD) coordination efforts in identifying, investigating, and prosecuting persons and entities who provide financial support to terrorist organizations.