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Compendium of Federal Bureau of Prisons Oversight Products

For more than two decades, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has conducted extensive oversight of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The BOP generally has been responsive to findings and recommendations in our oversight products. As of February 2024, the OIG had closed approximately 80 percent of the recommendations from prior reports and Management Advisory Memoranda. Nonetheless, numerous important recommendations remain open. As these products and our 2023 Top Management and Performance Challenges report reflect, the BOP continues to face significant and serious issues that require the consistent and substantial attention of BOP and Department of Justice (DOJ) leadership.

Since the issuance of the OIG’s first compendium of non-investigative BOP oversight products in February 2022, we have enhanced our BOP oversight by creating a BOP Interdisciplinary Team of experienced Special Agents, Auditors, Program Analysts, Inspectors, and a new Victim/Witness Program Specialist. This team leverages our collective knowledge of BOP operations and oversight. The OIG received funding to hire additional staff for this team, which allows the OIG to increase the quantity of BOP oversight work we initiate, as well as the quantity of BOP misconduct complaints accepted for investigation. The BOP Interdisciplinary Team combines the OIG’s expertise in BOP misconduct investigations; evaluation of systemic BOP-wide issues through advanced data analytics; targeted inspections of specific BOP institutions to assess compliance with correctional policies and standards; and a risk-based approach to identify waste, fraud, and abuse in BOP programs and contracts. The BOP Interdisciplinary Team has enhanced both internal OIG collaboration and OIG-BOP collaboration.

This compendium of 117 OIG audit, inspection, evaluation, and review reports; Management Advisory Memoranda; survey results; and data dashboards encapsulates the OIG’s oversight of the BOP’s programs, operations, and systemic challenges since 2002. The products are organized around four primary themes: (1) Safety and Security of BOP Institutions, (2) Health and Welfare of Inmates, (3) Staffing and Inmate Management Programs, and (4) Cost Management. Each theme is broken down into two or more subthemes. Although some OIG oversight products span more than one theme, each product is listed only once, under the most relevant theme.

The OIG also conducts oversight of the BOP through investigations of misconduct allegations. Reports that solely reference or summarize the OIG’s investigative work or misconduct-related findings are not included in this compendium. The OIG’s summaries of investigative findings in cases involving administrative misconduct, including certain cases concerning high-level BOP officials, can be found here. Press releases related to criminal and civil cases investigated by the OIG and our summaries of public developments in criminal and civil cases can be found here.

To download a PDF of this compendium, click here.

Safety and Security of BOP Institutions

Ensuring the safety and security of BOP inmates and staff is among the BOP’s highest priorities. Critical threats to safety and security include the introduction of contraband, such as cell phones or illegal drugs, into BOP facilities; weak information security programs and inadequate monitoring of high-risk inmates; sexual misconduct or abuse involving inmates or staff; unsafe infrastructure; facilities issues such as security camera deficiencies; and ineffective processes to address operational security issues or policies.

The OIG has conducted significant oversight of issues related to the BOP’s interdiction of contraband into its facilities, revealing weaknesses in the BOP’s staff search practices and policy and the need for increased protection against unmanned aircraft systems (drones). (For OIG products examining contraband risks related to the BOP’s security camera system and facility exterior door alarms, see the Infrastructure, Facilities, and Prison Operations section of this compendium.)

The OIG has reviewed the strength of the BOP’s information security program and practices, as well as its efforts to monitor high-risk inmates and inmate communications, especially in the post-9/11 environment, to prevent criminal activity and radicalization of the inmate population. While we include the OIG’s most recent audit reports of BOP systems pursuant to the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014, we do not include other cyclical audit reports such as annual financial statement audits.

The OIG has evaluated the BOP’s procedures for reporting, handling, and deterring staff and inmate misconduct and has investigated such allegations. (For OIG products examining impacts of the BOP’s security camera system deficiencies on detecting and deterring staff and inmate misconduct, see the Infrastructure, Facilities, and Prison Operations section of this compendium.)

The BOP is responsible for maintaining its facilities in operationally sound condition and in compliance with security, safety, and environmental requirements. The OIG has evaluated the effects of physical infrastructure and facilities issues―including the BOP’s maintenance of its institutions and security camera system―on the safety and security of institution staff and inmates’ conditions of confinement. OIG inspections have identified areas needing immediate attention at specific institutions, and OIG audits and reviews have assessed enterprise-wide BOP operations, such as its development of national corrections policies and its processes to address operational security issues.

Health and Welfare of Inmates

The BOP is responsible for providing inmates adequate medical care; mental healthcare; and, as noted on its website, a humane, secure environment. The BOP lists acting with empathy and compassion for those in its care and custody among its Core Values. The OIG has reviewed BOP programs and services intended to meet this important need, including the BOP’s use of restrictive housing and single-cell confinement and its management of various inmate subpopulations. (For OIG products examining the BOP’s management of medical costs and medical staffing challenges, see the Costs of Medical Care and Staffing sections of this compendium.)

The OIG has monitored the BOP’s efforts to provide essential medical and mental healthcare to inmates. Additionally, as part of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) Health Care Subgroup―comprising multiple OIGs that oversee the federal agencies that provide or reimburse for healthcare services―the OIG evaluated various aspects of the BOP’s healthcare during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The OIG has evaluated issues impacting the welfare of inmates in BOP custody, such as the BOP’s management of inmate deaths, its supervision of high-profile inmates, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on inmates, and its management of the unique needs of inmate subpopulations. (For OIG products examining the effects of physical infrastructure and facilities issues on inmate welfare, see the Infrastructure, Facilities, and Prison Operations section of this compendium.)

Staffing and Inmate Management Programs

According to the BOP’s website, ensuring public safety by preparing individuals for successful reentry into our communities, through skills building programs and ensuring the accuracy of inmates’ incarceration terms, is a critical component of the BOP’s mission. The BOP’s Core Ideologies, as described on its website, include providing staff who are ethical, professional, well-trained, and diverse corrections professionals.

The OIG has published multiple products detailing the BOP’s staffing levels and challenges. BOP staffing issues are pervasive and remain a long-standing concern for the OIG. The BOP is DOJ’s largest component, with 122 institutions, 6 regional offices, a headquarters, 2 staff training centers, and 22 residential reentry management offices nationwide. About 34,000 BOP staff managed about 155,000 inmates as of February 2024, according to the BOP’s website.

In addition to the products listed below, other OIG products listed in this compendium have identified BOP staffing challenges touching on the following topics: inadequate BOP assessments of institution staffing level needs (Limited-Scope Review); use of augmentation (temporarily reassigning non-Correctional Officers to Correctional Officer posts) and staff discipline issues (Waseca Inspection, Tallahassee Inspection, Limited-Scope Review); impacts of insufficient medical staffing during the pandemic (remote inspections, Capstone Review, Health Care Personnel Shortages (PRAC); staffing shortfalls (Inmate Deaths, Waseca Inspection, Tallahassee Inspection, Chaplaincy Services, Female Inmate Population, Aging Inmate Population); and staff hiring efforts (Limited-Scope Review, Enhanced Screening of Correctional Officer Candidates).

Cost Management

Maintaining cost-efficient facilities and good stewardship of public funds are essential to the BOP’s mission; however, the OIG has found that procurement and financial management remain significant strategic management challenges within the BOP. In FY 2023, the BOP’s enacted budget was approximately $8.7 billion, representing almost 23 percent of DOJ’s overall budget that year. The OIG conducts reviews, evaluations, and audits of the BOP’s budget management and expenditures to ensure that the BOP is utilizing its funds and managing its operations efficiently and effectively. The OIG has assessed the BOP’s costs of medical care, costs of its Residential Reentry Centers (RRC) and contract prisons, and its overall procurement and management of contracts.

The BOP spends a portion of its budget on contracts supporting its mission-critical medical functions that allow it to fulfill its obligation to provide inmate services consistent with accepted corrections community standards. The OIG has repeatedly found that the BOP needs to better plan, administer, and manage the cost of providing medical care to its inmate population.

The BOP’s RRC program successfully transitions federal inmates into communities by providing them with a structured and supervised environment. The OIG has conducted numerous audits of RRC contracts to ensure proper acquisition, performance, and oversight. In addition, although the BOP ended its use of privately owned prisons in December 2022, the OIG performed reviews and audits to ensure proper administration and oversight of privately owned prisons when they were in use.

To ensure responsible use of its funds, the BOP must conduct robust acquisition planning and contract administration and oversight. The OIG has conducted numerous audits and reviews examining the BOP’s procurement processes, compliance with contracting laws and regulations, and the adequacy of its contract administration and oversight.


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