USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 1997 - September 30, 1997

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Office of the Inspector General


OIG Profile

By Act of Congress, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) was established in the Department of Justice (Department) on April 14, 1989. The OIG investigates alleged violations of criminal and civil laws, regulations, and ethical standards arising from the conduct of the Department's employees in its numerous and diverse activities. The OIG provides leadership and assists management in promoting integrity, economy, efficiency, and effectiveness within the Department and in its financial, contractual, and grant relationships with others. Also by statute, the OIG reports to the Attorney General, Congress, and the public on a semiannual basis regarding the significant work of the office. Many of our reports are available on the OIG's Website at the following Internet address: <http://www.usdoj.gov/oig>.

The OIG carries out its mission with a workforce of approximately 470 special agents, auditors, inspectors, and support staff.

The special agents are assigned to offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Colorado Springs, Dallas, El Centro, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, McAllen, Miami, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Tucson.

The auditors are located in offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

Other components of the OIG - the Inspections Division, the Special Investigations and Review Unit, the Management and Planning Division, the Office of General Counsel, and the Inspector General's immediate office - are located in Washington, D.C.

Congress has not yet passed a Fiscal Year (FY) 1998 appropriations bill for the OIG. However, based on House and Senate action as of the end of October, it appears that the OIG's FY 1998 direct appropriation will be $33,211,000 and 312 workyears. The OIG also expects reimbursement from (1) the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for $5.0 million worth of audit, inspections, and investigative oversight work related to INS fee accounts; (2) the U.S. Trustees for $1.3 million for trustees audits; (3) the Working Capital Fund and other Department components for $7.0 million for costs incurred to comply with the statutory requirements of the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 and the Government Management Reform Act of 1994 to produce a consolidated Department financial statement audit in FY 1997; (4) INS for $3.7 million to cover the cost of a congressionally mandated investigation into Citizenship U.S.A. allegations; and (5) the Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund for $3.7 million for oversight of its grant programs.


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Special Inquiries


Several OIG investigations are of significant interest to the American public and Congress and of vital importance to the Department. Task forces working on these cases comprise OIG special agents, auditors, and inspectors, and in some instances, Assistant U.S. Attorneys from across the country. The following pages highlight these complex OIG investigations. Completed special investigative reports, except as noted, are available on the OIG Website at <http://www.usdoj.gov/oig>.

FBI Laboratory

In April 1997, the OIG issued its report on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Laboratory. In this report, we discussed our 18-month investigation of wrongdoing and improper practices within the Laboratory. The report recommended numerous systematic changes in the Laboratory, all of which the FBI agreed to adopt.

Since the report was issued, we have continued to monitor developments in the Laboratory and to oversee the implementation of our recommendations. We have received periodic progress reports from the FBI addressing the implementation of our recommendations. Our investigative team also met with the FBI Director and Deputy Director to discuss ways to improve the Laboratory, and the team separately met with senior Laboratory managers to assess the progress made. In addition, the Inspector General (IG) testified before House and Senate committees concerning the report findings and the recommendations for Laboratory improvements.

Aldrich H. Ames

In April 1997, we issued a classified report on the OIG's extensive review of the FBI's counterintelligence efforts that preceded the criminal investigation and apprehension of Aldrich H. Ames. The OIG undertook this examination at the request of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to review the FBI's response to the loss of its Soviet intelligence assets and those of the CIA in the mid-1980s.

Our review found that the FBI devoted inadequate attention to determining the cause of the sudden and catastrophic losses suffered by both the FBI and CIA in their Soviet intelligence programs. We provided the report to congressional intelligence committees and selected high-ranking officials in the Department and CIA. An unclassified executive summary is available on the OIG Website.

Lost Trust

In the early 1990s, the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office in South Carolina conducted a major investigation, entitled "Lost Trust," into corruption and vote-buying in the state legislature. After litigation that lasted over six years, a U.S. District Judge dismissed all remaining charges on the grounds that "the government's repetitious, flagrant, and long-standing misconduct in connection with the investigation and prosecution of the legislators warranted dismissal."

The Deputy Attorney General asked the OIG to review the handling of the original Lost Trust investigation and prosecution, as well as the Department's handling of earlier claims of prosecutorial abuse. Our investigation is underway.


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Special Inquiries


Citizenship U.S.A.

In September 1995, INS initiated Citizenship U.S.A. (CUSA), a program whose stated goal was to substantially reduce the backlog of pending naturalization applications. Over one million individuals were naturalized during the year the program was in place.

At the request of Congress and the Attorney General, the OIG began an investigation of the CUSA program in May 1997 following allegations of misconduct within the program. Our investigation focuses on a number of specific allegations of misconduct, including allegations that applicants with disqualifying criminal backgrounds were nevertheless naturalized and that standards were compromised in an effort to maximize the number of persons eligible to vote in the November 1996 election. A team of more than 30 special agents, program analysts, auditors, and support personnel, along with four senior Department attorneys, is conducting this investigation.

Allegations of Cocaine Trafficking by the CIA and the Nicaraguan Contras

The OIG continues to conduct its investigation into allegations of drug trafficking by persons associated with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Nicaraguan Contras. This investigation was initiated at the request of members of Congress after a public outcry over allegations contained in a series of articles in the San Jose Mercury News. The articles suggested that the CIA, working with supporters of the Contras, was involved in the importation of crack cocaine into Los Angeles in the 1980s.

The OIG investigation is focusing on what the Department knew and did regarding various aspects of these allegations. Our investigative team has reviewed over 40,000 relevant documents collected from Department components, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), INS, FBI, Criminal Division, and various U.S. Attorneys' Offices. The OIG team has conducted over one hundred witness interviews throughout the United States and some interviews in
Nicaragua.

The investigation has been coordinated with the CIA's OIG, which is engaged in a related inquiry focusing on the CIA's conduct in these matters. We expect to complete our report this fall.

Operation Gatekeeper

The OIG investigation of Operation Gatekeeper—the INS Border Patrol's effort to stem the flow of illegal immigration across the U.S./Mexico border between California and Baja California—is nearing completion. The investigation began in July 1996 shortly after allegations were made by officials of the National Border Patrol Council that Operation Gatekeeper achievements were being misrepresented to make it appear successful. Specifically, these allegations included claims that Border Patrol agents were being ordered not to apprehend illegal immigrants,


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Special Inquiries


that apprehended illegal immigrants were not properly processed in order to
prevent any record of their apprehension, and that Border Patrol supervisors were altering apprehension figures to make them appear lower.

The OIG investigative team has conducted nearly 400 interviews and reviewed over 65,000 pages of documents, 8,000 computer files, and 100 videotapes. The team is currently writing its report of findings regarding the numerous allegations raised during this investigation.

Deception of Congressional Task Force/Miami INS Follow-Up

As part of the OIG's follow-up process, the Inspections and Audit Divisions conducted a joint review of the actions taken by INS during the past year to address systemic problems at the Krome Service Processing Center (Krome) and the Miami International Airport (Airport) cited in a 1996 OIG special investigative report, "Alleged Deception of Congress: The Congressional Task Force on Immigration Reform's Fact-Finding Visit to the Miami District of INS in June 1995." The follow-up report noted that progress had been made in several areas, but that other areas had not measurably improved since publication of the OIG special investigative report.

 

The Washington Post Tuesday, September 16, 1997



 

At Krome, the overcrowded conditions had eased and juvenile male detainees were no longer housed with the general adult male population. However, male felons and female felons were still being housed with noncriminal male and female detainees. Criminal aliens were still being released from Krome, and sufficient evidence that criminal history checks were being performed prior to the release of aliens was missing from a number of files reviewed. In addition, discrepancies between manual and automated records remained a problem.

At the Airport, criminal aliens were, for the most part, held in cells while their cases were processed. However, there was confusion over which other aliens should be placed in the holding cells, and poor maintenance of Detention Logs remained a problem. In addition, we found that policies were issued regarding inspectors wearing gear belts and carrying weapons and that Miami inspectors were in compliance with these new policies.

The OIG's follow-up report was provided to the Attorney General, the INS Commissioner, and members of Congress.


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Other Activities


Inspector General Congressional Testimony

During the six-month reporting period, the IG testified on six occasions before committees of the House and Senate about the various investigations and oversight functions performed by the OIG.

The IG testified twice in connection with the OIG's report on the FBI Laboratory. On May 13, 1997, the IG testified before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime during an oversight hearing that focused on the OIG's investigation and its report on the FBI Laboratory, which had been released the previous month. The IG also testified on September 29, 1997, before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight & the Courts during a hearing entitled "A Review of the FBI Laboratory: Beyond the IG Report." This hearing focused both on the OIG investigation and the steps taken by the FBI to implement the 40 recommendations contained in the OIG report.

On May 1, 1997, the IG testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration of the Committee on the Judiciary during a hearing entitled "INS Oversight, The Criminal Record Verification Process for Citizenship Applicants." The hearing examined the past and present operation of the fingerprint check and criminal history verification process used for naturalization purposes by INS.

On May 14, 1997, the IG testified before the Senate's Caucus on International Narcotics Control about the threats and effects of corruption on U.S. law enforcement along the Mexican border. The IG's testimony focused on aspects of the border environment most conducive to corruption, summarized some of the OIG's most significant border corruption cases, and described steps that can be taken to reduce the incidence of corruption along the border.

On May 20, 1997, the IG testified before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims concerning the OIG's work in the area of immigration document fraud. The IG's testimony focused on INS' historical failure to block holders of fraudulently obtained INS documents from continuing to use them to obtain benefits.

On June 24, 1997, the IG testified before the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee's Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology concerning the investigative practices of various Inspectors
General. The IG's testimony centered on procedures used by OIG special agents during investigative interviews and on the rights of those interviewed during criminal and administrative investigations.

In September 1996, the Inspectors General for the Departments of Justice, Defense, and State and the CIA provided reports to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) related to the 1985 massacre of U.S. Marines in the Zona Rosa district in San Salvador, El Salvador. The SSCI conducted hearings in October 1996, May 1997, and July 1997 concerning these reports. Representatives from the OIGs, including the Justice Department OIG, were witnesses at the hearings.


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Other Activities


Other OIG Contributions

OIG semiannual reports feature the major investigations and programmatic reviews performed by the office during the past six months. Often overlooked are the daily contributions that OIG employees make to the Department, the larger governmental community, and their professions.

For example, this semiannual report includes the financial statement audits for INS, FBI, DEA, Federal Prison System, and - for the first time - a consolidated Department of Justice financial statement audit. The Audit Division also performs a host of support activities that ease the burden of these requirements for the participating components.

On a year-round basis, our financial auditors serve as consultants to the other Department components to help with the compilation of financial statements and to assist in the implementation of new financial accounting systems.

Our auditors worked with the General Services Administration to develop contract vehicles by which all federal agencies can obtain assistance in meeting the financial statement audit requirements; with the Federal Audit Executive Council to design better ways to monitor such contracts; and with the Accounting and Audit Policy Committee to adopt issues from corporate financial accounting to a government structure and method of operation.

We cochair an Executive Branch-wide task force to establish uniform accounting treatments for nonvalued seized and forfeited property of benefit to numerous federal agencies.

Frequently, OIG supervisors develop a valuable command of a subject matter from working on an audit or inspection that can continue to be useful to the Department even after a report has been issued. Thus, OIG inspectors appeared before the Office of Justice Program's National Corrections Grants Management Workshop regarding the review of Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth-in-Sentencing Incentive Grants; an Inspections director serves on the Attorney General's Visa Waiver Pilot Project Working Group; and a senior auditor serves on a County Criminal Justice Council to assist in evaluations of local criminal justice projects and task forces.

Our investigators have made significant contributions to their profession, serving as a member of the Civil Rights Working Group in San Diego that addresses complaints against law enforcement agencies brought by the Mexican Consul General and community interest groups; helping to host the Annual International Asian Organized Crime Conference that was attended by over 1,100 participants; working with other OIGs on the financing and curriculum for the Inspectors General Criminal Investigator Academy; and, under the auspices of the Criminal Division, traveling to assist the Bolivian Attorney General in the establishment of what is believed to be the first Inspector General Office for any South American country.


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Other Activities


Investigators also conducted 49 Integrity Awareness Briefings for Department employees throughout the country. These briefings are designed to educate employees concerning the misuse of a public official's position for personal gain and to deter employees from committing such offenses. These briefings reached over 1,400 employees with a message highlighting the devastating consequences of corruption to both the employee and the agency.

Legislation and Regulations

The Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, directs the IG to review proposed legislation and regulations relating to the programs and operations of the Department. Although the Department's Office of Legislative Affairs reviews all proposed or enacted legislation that could affect the Department's activities, the OIG independently reviews proposed legislation regarding the OIG itself or fraud, waste, and abuse in the Department's programs or operations. During this reporting period, the OIG reviewed three pieces of proposed legislation.

This work is overseen by the OIG's Office of General Counsel (OGC). In addition, OGC has worked on Departmentwide guidance relating to shooting incidents, assistance to victims of crimes, pro bono legal work, and the implementation of better mechanisms for handling sexual harassment issues.

President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency

The IG is a member of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE). OIG senior staff participate in PCIE activities - such as the Inspections Round Table, an annual investigations conference, and meetings of the Chief Financial Officers Group - that relate to their respective duties. The IG also is a member of the Investigative Standards and Training Committee.

In addition to his formal assignments, the IG has been active in the development of IGNET, a World Wide Website that publishes audit and inspection reports and makes other information relative to OIG activities available to the public. In the past six months, the Inspections Division hosted a PCIE/Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency Inspections Round Table meeting, and a senior manager participated at the PCIE Inspections and Evaluation Annual Conference.