U. S. Department of Justice
Office of the Inspector General
April 30, 1998
Honorable Janet Reno
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Madam Attorney General:
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Inspector General Act. This anniversary affords the opportunity for an assessment across the government of how the Inspector General (IG) concept is working in practice and whether any changes need to be made in order for Offices of Inspector General (OIGs) to serve more effectively the important oversight role envisioned by the IG Act. This assessment is being carried out across the IG community, in Congress, and within each OIG.
As part of this process, OIGs are taking a hard look at ourselves -- about the way we do business and how we fit in with the programs and operations of our Departments and agencies. On a continuing basis, we review the process by which we conduct investigations, audits, and inspections. We try to be responsive to constructive criticism and to learn from our mistakes and failures, as well as from our successes. In recent months, extremely important questions concerning the oversight of OIGs have been raised, as well as more specific concerns about the investigative practices used by OIGs. Although the questions concerning investigative practices have been raised in the context of specific investigations conducted by other OIGs, they have nonetheless caused us to review our own policies, procedures, and practices to make sure that we uphold the highest standards of the law enforcement community. These issues, and others of substantial significance to the IG community, are currently the subject of a series of congressional hearings. We fully support the close examination of these important subjects because we believe strongly that an entity with the important authority and responsibilities of an OIG should not be immune from scrutiny and appropriate oversight. We embrace the notion that we can benefit from fair and objective efforts to assess our operations.
As you know, the Department of Justice OIG has not yet reached its tenth anniversary, and yet we continue to build a solid record of accomplishment. In many instances, we do so in conjunction with other agencies. During the past six months, we joined with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and eight other federal, state, and county law enforcement agencies to form the South Texas Public Corruption Task Force, which focuses on drug-related public corruption in South Texas and along the Southwest Border. This further commits the OIG to participating in border corruption and civil rights task forces along the Southwest Border, as we have done in San Diego and elsewhere. Together with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), we conducted an investigation of citizenship testing fraud that led to the indictment of 20 people alleged to have subverted the testing process. In addition to our involvement at the field and operational level, we also have made important contributions to various other aspects of law enforcement practice and policy. During this reporting period, based on the recommendation of the current Director of the Office of Investigative Agency Policies (OIAP), you made us a full member of the OIAP. I view this as recognition of the dual role we play in the Department: as an active investigative agency that, in its corruption and fraud investigations, faces many of the same issues and problems as other investigative agencies; and as the component bearing important responsibility for the oversight of the other law enforcement agencies within the Department.
In addition to these efforts, we have placed substantial emphasis in this reporting period on issues relating to the use of computer technology in the Department. We completed a thorough review of the use of IDENT fingerprint technology by the Border Patrol along the Southwest Border, assessing its use as an enforcement tool. We completed an extensive review of a broad range of computer technology and automation initiatives in the INS; we are in the process of conducting an immediate follow-up audit because of the problems we identified in the audit and because of the large amounts of money being committed to these programs. Finally, we are playing a role in assessing and monitoring the Department's efforts to deal with the Year 2000 problem. As computer and information technology continue to play ever-expanding roles in the Department, I expect our oversight of such programs to continue.
We very much appreciate your continuing interest in and support for our work.
Very truly yours,
Michael R. Bromwich