OIG LETTER TO CONGRESS LISTING THE TEN MOST SERIOUS MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES FACING THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of the Inspector General
|December 31, 2001|
|MEMORANDUM FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL|
|THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL|
|FROM:||GLENN A. FINE, INSPECTOR GENERAL|
|SUBJECT:||Top Management Challenges in the
Department of Justice - 2001 List
Attached to this memorandum is the Office of the Inspector General's (OIG) December 2001 list of the Top Management Challenges facing the Department of Justice (Department). We have created this list annually, beginning in 1997 in response to a congressional request. It is our hope that the list will aid Department managers in developing strategies to address what we consider to be the top ten management challenges facing the Department.
As in past years, the challenges are not listed in order of seriousness. However, it is clear that the top challenge facing the Department is its response to terrorism, a challenge that we first placed on the list last year. In addition to updating management challenges that appeared on our list in previous years, this year we have added three new challenges ("Sharing of Intelligence and Law Enforcement Information," "Performance Based Management," and "Department of Justice Organizational Structure"). We combined two challenges from our 2000 submission ("INS Border Strategy" and "Removal of Illegal Aliens" have become "The INS's Enforcement of Immigration Laws") and removed two challenges ("Prison Overcrowding" and "Human Capital"). While the challenges we have removed remain important issues for the Department, we try to keep our list of challenges to ten.
We look forward to working with the Department to address these important management challenges, both by drawing upon findings and recommendations from past OIG reviews and by continuing to conduct reviews in these areas.
Please contact me at 514-3435 if you have any questions or if we can assist in any way.
|cc:||Janis A. Sposato
Acting Assistant Attorney General for Management
|David T. Ayres
Chief of Staff to the Attorney General
Assistant to the Attorney General
|David H. Laufmann
Chief of Staff to the Deputy Attorney General
|David A. Margolis
Associate Deputy Attorney General
|Daniel J. Bryant
Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs
MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES IN THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Counterterrorism: As the events of September 11, 2001, have illustrated, the United States faces grave threats of terrorist attacks. The use of chemical, radiological, and nuclear weapons remains a danger, while the use of biological agents has become a reality. Terrorists could attempt to attack water supplies, communications, national infrastructure, or government institutions. Advances in computer technology and the Internet have increased the risks of cyber-terrorism. In recognition of these threats, last year we included for the first time the "Departmental Response to Terrorism" as a top management challenge facing the Department of Justice (Department).
This year, as the Department has recognized and as the Attorney General has clearly articulated in response to the attacks of September 11, terrorism is the most important challenge facing the Department. On November 8, 2001, when releasing the Department's Strategic Plan for fiscal years (FY) 2001-2006, the Attorney General stated that the fight against terrorism was now the first and overriding priority of the Department.
first objective in the Department's Strategic Plan for 2001-2006 is to "Protect
America Against the Threat of Terrorism." The three strategic objectives
under this goal emphasize prevention and disruption of terrorist operations before
an incident occurs, investigation of terrorist incidents to bring perpetrators
to justice, and prosecution of individuals who have committed or intend to commit
terrorist acts against the United States. The Strategic Plan notes the significant
management challenge facing the Department as it seeks to effectively manage its
counterterrorism program and avoid potential gaps in coverage or duplicate services
provided by state and local governments. In addition, the infusion of billions
of dollars into the Department's efforts to combat terrorism presents its own
set of challenges.
The OIG is currently conducting an audit that relates to the government's ability to respond to terrorism. Our audit reviews domestic preparedness grants that the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) awards to state and local entities for training and equipment to respond to acts of terrorism. We also examine the amount of funding awarded and whether grants are being used for their intended purpose.
The OIG has also undertaken additional program reviews and audits in the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), whose work is critical to deterring terrorists from entering or remaining in the United States. For example, we have conducted follow-up reviews on INS programs such as the Visa Waiver Program and the INS's effort to control the Northern Border. We also have begun reviews of how the INS determines whether to send non-immigrants attempting to enter the United States to secondary inspection at air ports of entry, how the INS is handling its responsibilities to implement an automated system to monitor foreign students in the United States, and how the INS uses Advance Passenger Information System data to help deter the entry of terrorists or other criminals into the United States.
Sharing of Intelligence
and Law Enforcement Information: One of the lessons arising from the September
11 terrorist attacks is the critical importance of sharing intelligence and other
law enforcement information among federal, state, and local agencies. Since September
11, the Attorney General and the Director of the FBI repeatedly have spoken about
the importance of this issue, both to the investigation of the terrorist attacks
and in ongoing efforts to prevent future attacks.
By memorandum dated September 21, 2001, the Attorney General directed that information exposing a credible threat to the national security interests of the United States should be shared with appropriate federal, state, and local officials so that any threatened act may be disrupted or prevented. In late October, the President signed the USA Patriot Act of 2001, which permits greater sharing of intelligence and law enforcement information, such as information derived from Title III intercepts, information provided to grand juries, and information contained in criminal history databases.
However, the Department faces significant challenges in both ensuring that these new authorities are used appropriately and in ensuring that other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies have access to information important to their work. An example of these issues is the failure of the INS and the FBI to link the information in their automated fingerprint identification systems and the consequences of that failure. A 1998 OIG inspection in the INS entitled "Review of the INS's Automated Biometric Identification System" (OIG report #I-1998-10) and a March 2000 OIG Special Report examined how the INS handled its encounters with a Mexican national accused of a series of murders in the United States ("The Rafael Resendez-Ramirez Case: A Review of the INS's Actions and the Operation of its IDENT Automated Fingerprint Identification System").
Nothing in the INS's automated fingerprint identification system (IDENT) alerted INS employees that the FBI and state and local law enforcement were looking for Resendez in connection with a brutal murder. The INS's IDENT system was not linked to FBI data, and when Border Patrol agents apprehended Resendez as he attempted to illegally cross the border into New Mexico, the Border Patrol followed its standard policy and voluntarily returned Resendez to Mexico. He returned to the United States within days of his release and murdered several more people before surrendering. This case highlighted the failure of the INS and the FBI to develop a way to share important criminal information about individuals. We noted the importance of expeditiously integrating IDENT with the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) to enable the two systems to share fingerprint information.
A fully integrated
IDENT/IAFIS system would provide INS employees with immediate information on whether
a person they apprehend or detain is wanted by the FBI or has a record in the
FBI's Criminal Master File. Similarly, linking IDENT and IAFIS could provide state
and local law enforcement agencies with valuable immigration information as part
of a response from a single FBI criminal history search request. The OIG recently
issued a follow-up report (OIG Report #I-2002-003) on the status of INS and FBI
efforts to integrate the two systems, concluding that integration has proceeded
slowly and is still years away.
Information Systems Planning and Implementation: OIG audits, inspections, evaluations, and special reports continue to identify mission-critical computer systems in the Department that were poorly planned, experienced long delays in implementation, or did not provide timely, useful, and reliable data. Given the critical role these systems play in the Department's operational and administration programs - not to mention the vast sums of money spent on developing and deploying these systems - information systems planning and implementation remains a top management challenge in the Department.
For example, OIG
audits have found that the INS has made huge investments in automation technology
and information systems that have yielded questionable results. Our March 1998
audit titled "INS Management of Automation Programs" (OIG report #98-09)
disclosed significant weaknesses in the management of the INS's automation initiatives.
Among other things, we found that several major INS systems were behind schedule
and that the INS lacked definitive performance measures for tracking critical
project milestones. In July 1999, we issued a follow-up review of the INS's management
of its automation programs (OIG report #99-19), which found that the INS continued
to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on automation initiatives without being
able to explain how the money was spent or what was accomplished.
The OIG has also
reviewed individual INS technology systems and found problems. In March 2000,
the OIG issued a follow-up review of the INS's Passenger Accelerated Service System
(INSPASS) (OIG report #00-07), an automated system designed to facilitate the
inspection of low-risk travelers at airports. The report noted that as of 1998
the INS had spent more than $18 million to develop INSPASS and had, since the
OIG's previous INSPASS audit in March 1995 (OIG report #95-08), increased INSPASS
reliability, usage, and performance. However, we found that the benefits provided
by INSPASS in FY 1998 were insignificant because only 1 percent of the travelers
in the six participating airports used the automated system. While INSPASS is
a small program, we concluded that the problems found there illustrated some of
the INS's overall problems with managing its automation initiatives.
In addition, the OIG's ongoing review of the belated production of documents in the Timothy McVeigh case will assess similar issues related to the FBI's automated information systems.
Due to the importance of information technology in the FBI and the large amounts of money involved, the OIG has begun an audit of the FBI's management of its information technology projects. This audit will assess: (1) how the FBI selects its IT projects, (2) how the FBI ensures that projects under development deliver benefits, and (3) how the FBI ensures that completed projects deliver the expected results.
We have raised
issues with other Department information technology systems. For example, the
OIG's FY 2000 audit of the U.S. Marshal Service's (USMS) financial statement (OIG
report #01-30), found that implementation of the USMS Standardized Tracking, Accounting,
and Reporting System (STARS) continues to be problematic. During FY 2000, USMS
field offices were continuing to use the agency's Financial Management System,
which was originally scheduled to be replaced by STARS, because of delays in implementing
the new system.
Computer Systems Security: In response to the threat to Department computers, databases, and networks, and in recognition of the importance of information technology, the Department has classified computer security as a material weakness since 1991. Recently, the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations gave the Department an "F" for its computer security efforts in FY 2001, the same grade the Department received in FY 2000.
OIG audits have disclosed serious problems in computer security that could lead to the compromise of sensitive systems and data. The OIG conducts security assessments and penetration testing using state-of-the-art security system software. These reviews have found that select computer controls were inadequate to protect the systems and their sensitive data from unauthorized use, loss, or modification.
The OIG is also
conducting regular computer security audits mandated by the Government Information
Security Reform Act (GISRA), which requires that Inspectors General audit the
security of critical information systems in their agencies. Our audits assess
the Department's compliance with GISRA and related information security policies,
procedures, standards, and guidelines. In FY 2001, we tested the effectiveness
of information security control techniques for nine systems (five sensitive but
unclassified (SBU) and four classified systems) at the Executive Office for U.S.
Attorneys, Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA),
Justice Management Division (JMD), and FBI.
In FY 2001, the OIG also issued a report assessing the Department's critical infrastructure protection planning for its computer-based infrastructure (OIG report #01-01). This report, part of a President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency government-wide review of the nation's critical infrastructure assurance program, found that while the Department submitted the required critical infrastructure protection plan, it had not yet: (1) adequately identified all its mission-critical assets, (2) assessed the vulnerabilities of each of its ADP systems, (3) developed remedial action plans for identifying vulnerabilities, or (4) developed a multi-year funding plan for reducing vulnerabilities. As a result, the Department's ability to perform certain vital missions could be at risk from terrorist attacks or similar threats.
The INS's Enforcement of Immigration Laws: The INS's enforcement of immigration laws, particularly its ability to deter illegal immigration and remove aliens who are here illegally, is a critical and longstanding management challenge.
Within the INS,
the Border Patrol faces significant enforcement challenges along the southwest
and northern borders to stem the tide of illegal aliens, drugs, and potential
terrorists. For example, in last year's list of top management challenges (December
1, 2000), we reported on the OIG's review of "The Border Patrol's Efforts
Along the Northern Border" (OIG report #I-2000-004). The report identified
significant gaps in the INS's northern border operations, the increasing illegal
activity along the northern border, and the limited resources available to address
this growing concern. In response to a recommendation contained in the OIG report,
the INS reassessed its approach in managing risks at the northern border. Its
new approach focuses on enhancing national security and on controlling cross-border
crime activity and illegal migration while facilitating legitimate travel and
commerce. While Attorney General Reno approved the northern border strategy in
the final days of her term, one year later the INS has not developed any implementation
plan. Given the Department's emphasis on securing the nation's borders post September
11, the need for implementation of a coordinated northern border strategy is greater
A May 2000 GAO
report titled "Alien Smuggling Management and Operational Improvements Needed
to Address Growing Problems," (GAO report #GGD-00-103) reached a similar
conclusion. This GAO report found that the INS's alien smuggling efforts have
been fragmented and uncoordinated, that the INS does not know if it is using its
anti-smuggling resources most effectively, and that it lacks an agency-wide automated
tracking system that would help prevent duplicative investigations and promote
The INS lacks an effective enforcement policy that specifically targets the overstay population. While the INS estimates that overstays comprise 41 percent of the illegal alien population in the United States, INS data shows that only a small percentage of the deportable aliens apprehended by INS investigators are overstays.
A 1996 OIG inspection found that the INS's program to deport illegal aliens has been largely ineffective, finding that the INS was successful in deporting only about 11 percent of non-detained aliens after final orders had been issued. Anecdotal information continues to support this low percentage. In a more recent inspection (OIG report #I-99-09), we noted that ineligible aliens, including convicted felons, were inappropriately granted voluntary departure because the INS and the Executive Office for Immigration Review had not ensured that all eligibility requirements are met. We found that the INS lacks an effective departure verification system and therefore has no way of knowing whether illegal aliens granted voluntary departure have left the country.
The monitoring of alien overstays and removal of criminal aliens has been a Department material weakness since 1997. Among other issues, the INS failed to identify many deportable criminal aliens, including aggravated felons, or initiate Institutional Removal Program (IRP) proceedings before they were released from prison. The Department's Management Controls Report for FY 2000 stated that the INS issued new policy guidance to clarify the roles of agents working in the IRP, developed better inmate tracking systems to identify and deport criminal aliens, and developed new staffing models to allow the INS to concentrate resources where they are most needed. The OIG is currently performing an audit of the IRP to determine if past OIG recommendations were implemented and assess whether program enhancements can streamline the IRP process.
The OIG issued an inspection report in 2001 titled "INS's Escort of Criminal Aliens" (OIG report #I-2001-005). This report found that the INS's practice of escorting criminal aliens on commercial airlines when the aliens are removed from the United States to non-border countries placed the traveling public at potential risk because the INS does not consistently follow its established escort policy. In three of the four districts visited by the OIG, INS managers disregarded established INS policies, resulting in the placement of violent aliens, without escorts, on commercial airlines.
As discussed above, the OIG is conducting several follow-up reviews that identified issues to assess the progress made to correct deficiencies identified by previous OIG inspections of the INS's enforcement efforts. The follow-up reviews concern OIG inspections on "Border Patrol Efforts Along the Northern Border" (OIG report # I-2000-04), "The Potential for Fraud and INS Efforts to Reduce the Risks of the Visa Waiver Pilot Program" (OIG report #I-1999-10), "Transit Without Visa Program Inspection" (OIG report #I-1992-07), and "INS's Monitoring of Nonimmigrant Overstays" (OIG report #I-1997-08).
and Systems: While the Department has made some progress in improving its
financial statements and systems, this issue remains a top management challenge.
In FY 2000, the Department received an unqualified opinion on its consolidated
balance sheet and statement of custodial activity (OIG report #01-07). However,
the Department received a qualified opinion on the remaining financial statements
due to the INS's inability to substantiate the earned revenues offset portion
of Immigration Program Costs because of inadequate records to support the pending
applications at the beginning of the fiscal year.
In addition, Department components including the INS and Federal Prison Industries, Inc., continue to encounter significant difficulties in implementing their financial management systems. With new financial systems needed at several components, it is imperative that the Department overcomes these implementation difficulties in order to continue on a path toward improving its financial management and eventually removing this issue as a management challenge.
Detention Space and Infrastructure - the USMS and the INS: Obtaining and efficiently managing detention space for the USMS and the INS - a material weakness in the Department since 1989 - remains a top management challenge. Both agencies continue to experience rapid growth in their use of detention space, from an average of 43,408 beds in 1998 to a projected 64,962 beds in 2002. The INS, in particular, may need additional detention space in light of the Department's response to the September 11 attacks. Expanding the use of detention space also places increasing demands on INS and USMS transportation, communications, and staff.
To obtain additional detention space, the Department has relied on outside contractors (including state and local governments and for-profit entities) to house federal detainees. OIG audits of contractors for detention space have resulted in significant dollar findings. For example, in FY 2001 we issued an audit of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) for detention space with York County, Pennsylvania (OIG report #GR-70-01-005). The audit revealed that in FY 2000, York overcharged the Department a total of $6.1 million due to York's understatement of its average daily population, a key figure used to determine reimbursement from the INS. If York uses the jail day rate determined by our audit and the INS, the USMS, and the BOP continue to use the same amount of jail days, the Department could realize savings of approximately $6.4 million annually.
An OIG audit of the IGA with the Government of Guam (OIG Report #GR-90-01-006) found that for the period of October 1, 1998, through September 30, 2000, the Department overpaid Guam more than $3.6 million based on the actual allowable costs and the average daily population. In addition, the OIG found that the Department could realize annual savings of $3.3 million by using the audited rate for future payments.
with the Department, the INS, and the USMS disclosed considerable disagreement
regarding the nature of the agreements used to obtain jail space from state and
local governments. In our view, the Department has not yet settled on a procurement
process to obtain detention space in a manner that meets prudent business practices
and existing procurement regulations.
In an OIG review
titled "Unaccompanied Juveniles in INS Custody" (OIG report #I-2001-009),
the OIG examined the treatment of unaccompanied and undocumented juveniles who
are held in INS custody for more than 72 hours and placed into formal immigration
proceedings. We found deficiencies at INS districts, Border Patrol sectors, and
INS headquarters that could have potentially serious consequences for the well
being of the juveniles. These deficiencies included lack of segregation for non-delinquent
and delinquent juveniles and lack of required weekly visits by INS juvenile coordinators
with all juveniles in INS custody.
Finally, the Department recently established a Detention Trustee with broad responsibilities related to many of the problems discussed above. We are concerned that the Detention Trustee may not have the authority or resources to resolve the many long-standing detention issues that he is expected to address.
Grant Management: In recent years, the Department has become a grant-making agency that has disbursed billions of dollars to grantees. Among other initiatives, the grants support community policing, encourage drug treatment programs, reimburse states for incarcerating illegal aliens, and fund counterterrorism initiatives. For a Department that historically had limited experience in awarding, monitoring, and reporting on grant progress, the infusion of such significant amounts of grant money over the past several years has resulted in a continuing management challenge for the Department.
Overall, OIG reviews
have found that many grantees did not submit required program monitoring and financial
reports and that program officials' on-site monitoring reviews did not consistently
address all grant conditions. For example, an OIG inspection found that some grantees
who received formula grant funds from the OJP for prison substance abuse services
needed to improve their reporting of program implementation and their accounting
for matching funds and federal grant funds sub-awarded to state and local agencies
(OIG report #I-2000-022). We found that OJP's administration of this grant program
could be strengthened through better monitoring and by obtaining more timely and
definitive information from grantees.
Performance Based Management: On November 8, 2001, the Attorney General challenged the Department to hold itself accountable through performance measures, stating that "Performance should be measured by outcomes and results, not inputs." Similarly, the President's "Management Agenda for Fiscal Year 2002" prepared by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) demands integration of budget and performance, stating "[o]ver the past few years the Department has seen a significant expansion in its mission and a rapid growth in resources. Meaningful measures supported by performance data, particularly measures of program outcome, are essential to evaluate this investment and determine future resource requirements."
A pressing management challenge for the Department is ensuring, through performance based management, that its programs are achieving their intended purposes. The Department received a congressional grade of "F" for its 1999 performance report that assesses agency progress towards meeting the mandates of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA).
The GAO reviewed
the Department's FY 2000 performance report and the FY 2002 performance plan to
assess Department progress in achieving selected key outcomes that were identified
as important Department mission areas. The GAO reported that the Department's
overall progress towards achieving each of the four key outcome measures was difficult
to ascertain because the performance report generally lacked measurable targets
and lacked clear linkage between performance measures and outcomes.
In addition, in FY 2002 we plan to audit the DEA's implementation of the GPRA. The audit will assess whether the DEA has developed quantifiable goals that support its mission and whether the performance data gathered to date are valid and accurate.
Justice Organizational Structure: The Department is developing or implementing
reorganization plans in several of its components. While some of this reorganization
is related to the events of September 11, some is designed to correct long-standing
organizational problems. The challenge for Department managers is not only to
ensure that the reorganizations accomplish their intended purposes, but also to
see that the Department's interconnected programs and functions are not adversely
impacted by the changes.
OJP is reorganizing to reduce duplication in grant programs and improve efficiency. As mentioned previously, the OIG plans to audit OJP to assess the level of duplication in its grant management and oversight process in an effort to identify efficiencies.
Finally, the FBI is reorganizing its operations and reevaluating its mission in light of the September 11 attacks and its new priority to prevent acts of terrorism. In December 2001, the FBI Director announced a restructuring plan for FBI Headquarters that the FBI described as the first step in a "phased process of reorganizing assets, modernizing and integrating new technology, and consolidating functions."
To assist in this restructuring effort, the OIG will review the FBI's allocation of resources to conduct the varied investigations under its jurisdiction. The audit will: (1) evaluate the types and number of cases the FBI investigates, (2) assess performance measures for FBI casework, and (3) determine if opportunities exist for certain investigations to be handled by other federal, state, and/or local law enforcement agencies.