The United States Marshals Service Intergovernmental Service Agreement for Detention Services with the Cumberland County Jail, Portland, Maine

Office of the Inspector General

Executive Summary

The United States Marshals Service (USMS) assumes custody of individuals arrested by all federal agencies and is responsible for housing and transporting prisoners from the time they are brought into federal custody until they are either acquitted or sentenced. Each day, the USMS houses approximately 53,000 detainees. Typically, the USMS detains about 75 percent of its prisoners in state and local detention facilities; the remainder are housed in Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities. Title 18, United States Code § 4013 (a), authorizes the Attorney General to make payments from the Federal Prisoner Detention Appropriation for the necessary clothing, medical care, guard services, housing, care, and security of prisoners held in the custody of the USMS pursuant to federal law, under agreements with state or local units of government. To meet its detention requirements and to acquire jail space, the USMS executes Intergovernmental Service Agreements (IGA) with approximately 1,300 state and local governments.

An IGA is a formal written agreement between the USMS and a state or local government to house federal prisoners at a fixed per diem rate, or jail day rate. The USMS bases the jail day rates it pays to house federal prisoners on the actual and allowable costs for the same level of service provided to state or local prisoners in a specific facility. The USMS requires the governmental unit to: (1) establish and maintain accounting systems and financial records that accurately account for the funds awarded, (2) comply with federal financial management standards, and (3) notify the USMS of any significant changes to its facilities. To request a jail day rate or an increase in an existing jail day rate, the USMS requires local governments to complete and submit a Form USM-243, Cost Sheet for Detention Services to the local USMS office. The local office forwards the cost sheet to the USMS Prisoner Services Division for review, evaluation, and approval.

To assist state and local governments with the completion of the Form USM-243, the USMS publishes the Cost Sheet for Detention Services – Form USM-243 Instructions. The cost sheet instructions establish guidelines for determining: (1) if the direct and indirect costs are allowable and allocable to the IGA, (2) how prisoner population data is entered into the cost sheet, and (3) what adjustments to allowable federal expenditures may be necessary based on the local operating costs of the facility.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Audit Division, completed this audit of the IGA between the USMS and the Cumberland County Jail (CCJ), located in Cumberland County, Maine. Under the terms of the primary IGA, effective in 1997, the CCJ provided housing, safekeeping, and subsistence for adult male and female federal prisoners and was reimbursed at a daily per diem, or jail day rate for each federal prisoner incarcerated in the county’s jail.1 The original IGA provided a jail day rate of $81.97, and was modified three times to increase the jail day rate as follows: (1) in January 1999 to $82.96, (2) in June 2003 to $92.83, and (3) in July 2003 to $103.96. The current IGA is effective until June 30, 2006.2

The objectives of our audit were to determine if: (1) the jail day rate was current, complete, and accurate, (2) the costs used to support the detention and care of federal inmates were allowable, allocable, and reasonable under OMB Circular A-87, Cost Principles for State, Local, and Indian Tribal Governments (OMB A-87), and (3) the total dollars billed to the USMS were accurate.

Our audit period covered 2 years, the period from January 1, 2003, through December 31, 2004. The CCJ billed the USMS a total of $6,412,702 to house federal prisoners during these 2 years. Based on our analysis of the jail day rates and supporting costs for this period, we found that the jail day rates paid to the CCJ from January 2003 through June 2003 are supported. However, we found that the jail day rate in effect from July 2003 through December 2004 was not fully supported. Because the CCJ experienced a significant increase in its inmate population between FY 2002 and FY 2004 (26.2 percent), the jail day rate from July 2003 to December 2004 was overstated. We concluded the USMS overpaid the CCJ by $202,354 during the 2 years we audited ($137,683 in FY 2003 and $64,671 in FY 2004). Because the USMS bases the jail day rates it pays on the annual number of jail days divided into the annual operating costs of the jail, the sharp increase in the inmate population during the 2 years we audited caused a significant decrease in the CCJ’s jail day rates. We describe our methodology for determining the impact of the increase in the number of jail days on the jail day rate later in this report.

We discussed the results of our audit with a CCJ official, who generally agreed with our findings and recommendations.


  1. A jail day is the equivalent of one person incarcerated for one day and begins on the date of arrival but does not include the date of departure. The total number of jail days per year is divided into the annual operating cost of the jail to determine the jail day rate.

  2. The IGA also includes limited funding for guard services to support federal prisoners treated at local hospitals. We discuss this funding in Appendix I.


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