United States Marshals Service Intergovernmental Service Agreement for Detention Services with the Doña Ana County Detention Center, New Mexico

Office of the Inspector General

Executive Summary

The United States Marshals Service (USMS) assumes custody of all individuals arrested by federal agencies and is responsible for the housing and transportation of prisoners from the time they are brought into federal custody until they are either acquitted or incarcerated. Each day, the USMS is responsible for housing more than 47,000 detainees throughout the nation. The USMS recognizes that it is dependent upon state and local governments for the provision of detention space and services for federal prisoners held for court appearances or for transport to a designated facility for service of sentence. Therefore, in order to house these pre-sentenced detainees, the USMS executes contracts known as Intergovernmental Service Agreements (IGAs) with state and local governments to rent jail space. Seventy-five percent of the detainees in the USMS custody are detained in state, local, and private 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 custody of a United States Marshal pursuant to federal law, under agreements with state or local units of government.

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 based on actual and allowable costs for the same level of service provided to state or local prisoners in a specific facility. Transportation services for prisoners to and from court and medical facilities, as well as medical guard services are allowable as a separate line item to the IGA. To request a per diem rate or an increase to the current per diem rate, the USMS requires the local governments to complete and submit a Form USM-243, Cost Sheet for Detention Services, to the local USMS office. The local USMS office will forward the cost sheet to the Prisoner Services Division for review, evaluation, and approval.

The USMS awarded the Doña Ana County Detention Center (DACDC) IGA No. 51-99-0117 on August 1, 1996. According to the IGA, prisoners are housed in the DACDC at a rate of $59.91 per jail day.1 According to the Doña Ana County performance accounting system general ledger, during Fiscal Years (FYs) 2003 and 2004, the DACDC was paid a cumulative total of $13,822,008 under the IGA.

The purpose of this audit was to determine if the jail day rate is current and accurate; the costs for the detention and care of inmates are allowable, allocable, and reasonable under OMB Circular A-87, Cost Principles for State, Local and Indian Tribal Governments; and the amounts billed are correct.2 Based on our audit of actual costs and daily population, we determined that the DACDC’s accounting records do not support the rate of $59.91 used to bill the USMS. As shown in the following table we calculated the jail day rates to be $42.39 and $32.43 for FYs 2003 and 2004 respectively.

Audit Determined Jail Day Rates3

  FY 2003 FY 2004
Total Expenses $12,636,234 $12,853,866
Less: Audit Exceptions $237,824 $104,161
Less: Offsetting Revenues $317,772 $2,370,886
Equals: Allowable Costs $12,080,637 $10,378,819
Divided by: Actual Jail Days 284,981 320,032
Equals: Audited Jail Day Rate $42.39 $32.43
Source: Doña Ana County financial records.

Our audit determined that the USMS overpaid the DACDC by $5,231,812 for FYs 2003 and 2004 ($1,994,091 in FY 2003 and $3,237,721 in FY 2004). We found that the large discrepancies in the jail day rates were primarily due to increases in occupancy, large offsetting revenues for federal reimbursements for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) and the Southwest Border Prosecution Initiative (SWBPI), and overall cost control by facility management.

Based on the operating costs and average jail days for FY 2004, we determined that adjusting the jail day rate to the FY 2004 audit determined rate would result in $3,237,721 in funds put to better use annually. Therefore, the total dollar-related findings are $8,469,533 ($5,231,812 in questioned costs + $3,237,721 in funds put to better use = $8,469,533).


  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.

  2. For more information on our objectives, scope, and methodology, see Appendix II.
  3. Differences in the total amounts are due to rounding, e.g., the rounded sum of non-rounded individual numbers may differ from the sum of rounded individual numbers.


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