Policy Statement of the Department of Justice on Its Relationship and Coordination with the Statutory Inspectors General of the Various Departments and Agencies of the United States
The Department of Justice's Policy Statement follows:
- The serious problem of fraud and waste in federal programs is one of the most important challenges facing the federal law enforcement community, which includes not only the Federal Bureau of Investigation, other investigative agencies and Department of Justice prosecutors but also the audit and investigation staffs of the Inspectors General. To meet this challenge we must effectively use our limited audit, investigative and prosecutorial resources and produce meaningful results. The Department of Justice has high expectations for the Inspectors General, but in the past, in some circumstances, we have not addressed and resolved in any comprehensive way how they are to work in the criminal justice system. The Department has now developed a framework for coordination of its efforts with the Inspectors General, which is outlined below.
- LEGAL FOUNDATION
- The implementing statutes place with Inspectors General the responsibility for conducting investigations relating to the programs and operations of their agencies. The statutes also require Inspectors General to "report expeditiously to the Attorney General whenever the Inspector General has reasonable grounds to believe there has been a violation of criminal law."
- GOAL OF POLICY
- The Inspectors General were created in large part in response to the need for increased detection of fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement in federal programs. In law enforcement, we have come to recognize that the United States is best served by formally initiating matters of possible criminality into the criminal justice system as early as possible. Accordingly, current FBI procedures generally provide for a preliminary prosecutive opinion before the initiation of a full-scale criminal investigation. This early alert system enables the Department of Justice to mount a coordinated and directed investigation and prosecution effort.
- NOTIFICATION POLICY
- When to Report
- The basic rule is that whenever there is reason to believe a federal crime has occurred, the Department of Justice should be advised. There are two subcategories.
- One category involves possible crimes which are completed concerning past events and which, although they require prompt investigative and prosecutive attention, are not so urgent, or so sensitive as to suggest accelerated reporting and/or utilization of special law enforcement techniques. This first category of criminal allegations may require further investigation by the Inspector General to confirm, and should be reported whenever there is a reasonable indication, i.e., some evidence, to believe that a federal crime has occurred.
- The second category involves possible crimes which are of such an urgent or sensitive nature that upon receipt of the mere allegation, accelerated reporting is required to allow for immediate prosecutive and investigative action. This second category involves allegations such as bribery, conflict of interest, fraud against the government and the like involving federal employees, and, in addition, any criminal conduct of an ongoing nature. Because of the law enforcement sensitivity, this category also includes information pertaining to the element generally known as organized crime. These urgent and sensitive matters necessitate immediate reporting to the Department because the FBI may be called on to employ body recorders, undercover operations, search warrants, Title III and other specialized law enforcement techniques which need FBI expertise and may require Department approval.
- Where to Report
- The Attorney General's interests include not only criminal investigation and prosecution but also the civil interests of the United States. To fulfill all these interests and coordinate other actions, the Inspectors General should report the above described possible violations to the prosecutor. This normally will be the U.S. Attorney in the district where the crime occurred or is occurring. In certain circumstances the reporting may be to the appropriate section of the Criminal Division. These situations include matters in which venue is uncertain or headquarters coordination or action is suggested by the nature of the crime or program.
- What and How to Report
- The report should generally consist of a written statement of the allegation, the facts developed, the evidence-both documentary and testimonial-supporting the facts, the history and status of the Inspector General investigation. To insure that appropriate consideration is given to the Agency's civil fraud claims, however, the Inspector General may wish to make a separate referral to the Civil Division.
- THE FBI AND PROSECUTOR ROLE
- At the time of reporting, the prosecutor, consulting with the FBI and the Inspector General, will be called on immediately to make a number of decisions, including whether:
- To initiate a grand jury investigation,
- To decline prosecution, or
- To refer the matter for civil and/or administrative action.
In many circumstances, with the early reporting system, the prosecutor and the FBI will ask the Inspector General to conduct a joint investigation with the FBI or continue the investigation.
- DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMMITMENT
- U.S. Attorneys and the Criminal and Civil Divisions will give investigations of Inspector General matters a high priority.
- The Fraud Section of the Criminal Division will be charged with overseeing the operations of the policy and resolving any uncertainties of differing interpretations which may arise.
- The FBI will keep the Inspectors General regularly informed of the progress of the investigation except in these rare instances where disclosure might endanger FBI agents or adversely affect the investigation.
- The FBI will notify the Inspector General, at the same time it seeks a preliminary prosecutive opinion, of FBI investigations which are predicated on information or allegations other than an Inspector General report (with the same safety and security of investigation caveat).
- The FBI will furnish a written summary at the conclusion of an investigation on the nature of judicial action, if any, taken.
- The FBI will provide the following services:
- Appropriate indices checks;
- Laboratory examinations;
- National Crime Information Center inquiries; and
- Identification record searches and other appropriate services.
- The FBI has completed a major Inspector General/FBI undercover operation and is seeking the support of the Inspectors General in developing other such efforts. Substantial progress has been made in coordinating the prosecutive and investigation planning in this area through the Bureau's Undercover Review Committee. The Department expects to increase the use of this technique in the government fraud and corruption area.
- MEMORANDA OF UNDERSTANDING
- As the Department and the Inspectors General gain experience with the principles set forth in this statement, refinements within the framework of the underlying policy will be formulated. It is contemplated that the FBI and the Inspectors General, in consultation with the U.S. Attorneys and the Criminal Division will address matters such as local working relationships, joint investigative procedures, threshold reporting requirements, and delegation of investigative responsibility. These may take the form of procedural and operating memoranda of understanding.
[cited in USAM 9-42.001; USAM 9-42.500]