The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced today the release of a report following up on the OIG’s 2012 report on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Operation Fast and Furious and Related Matters. The OIG’s 2012 report identified serious management flaws in two firearms trafficking investigations, Operations Fast and Furious and Wide Receiver.
The report released today assesses the DOJ’s and ATF’s implementation of the six recommendations contained in our 2012 report. We determined that the DOJ and ATF have completed work on four of the six recommendations, and made progress toward closing the two remaining recommendations.
The four recommendations we have closed were directed to the DOJ and ATF. First, we found that the DOJ completed a review of ATF’s policies for consistency with the DOJ’s guidelines and policies. ATF also finished its own internal policy review in 2014, which resulted in revisions to its policies. Second, ATF created guidance for its agents regarding how to develop certain complex firearms cases in a manner that is consistent with the policy on firearms transfers that ATF instituted as a result of Operation Fast and Furious. Third, the DOJ instituted regular coordination meetings with leadership from its law enforcement components. Fourth, the DOJ developed new procedures regarding the review of wiretap applications.
We also determined that ATF made significant progress in implementing our recommendation concerning improvements to its case review procedures for sensitive matters. For example, ATF instituted a Monitored Case Program (MCP) to provide heightened scrutiny over cases that involve significant risk and revised its policies on Undercover Operations and Confidential Informants. ATF has also taken many of the steps we recommended to further improve its oversight of sensitive matters, and it has committed to making additional improvements. The OIG will continue to monitor ATF’s progress in this area.
Our remaining recommendation from the 2012 report was that the DOJ review the policies and procedures of its law enforcement components, other than ATF, to ensure that they are sufficient to address the concerns we identified in the conduct of Operations Fast and Furious and Wide Receiver. The DOJ convened a working group and reviewed component policies on issues such as oversight of sensitive cases and informant otherwise illegal activity, and this effort led to the issuance of important guidance documents.
However, we determined that the policies of the DOJ and its law enforcement components other than ATF did not sufficiently address risks associated with firearms transfers that were identified in our prior report. The Department has responded positively to our concerns on this issue, though some work remains to be done. Specifically, during our follow-up review, DEA issued a policy that includes guidance on firearms transfers, and ODAG has informed us that the FBI and USMS will be modifying their policies similarly.
Additionally, this recommendation in our 2012 report specifically addressed our concerns about law enforcement components’ use of informants who are also regulated by that component. We found that the DOJ and DEA failed to respond to this part of our recommendation as it pertained to DEA. Our review of DEA’s policies also revealed that they still do not incorporate important requirements from the DOJ’s guidelines on confidential informants, such as directions regarding otherwise illegal activity and procedures for approval of certain highly sensitive informants. The Department has informed the OIG that it is working with DEA to revise DEA’s informant policies and to address these issues. Our report identifies the steps that we believe the Department and its law enforcement components need to take in order to close this recommendation.