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DOJ OIG Releases Report on the DEA’s Aviation Operations with the DOD in Afghanistan

The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced today the release of a report examining the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) aviation operations with the Department of Defense (DOD) in Afghanistan. The OIG determined that, collectively, the DEA and DOD spent more than $86 million to purchase and modify a DEA aircraft with advanced surveillance equipment to conduct operations in the combat environment of Afghanistan, in what became known as the Global Discovery Program. We found that more than 7 years after the aircraft was purchased for the program, it remains inoperable, resting on jacks in Delaware, and has never flown in Afghanistan.

The OIG’s specific findings in the report released today include:

  • The Global Discovery aircraft, which was originally intended to be completed in December 2012, has missed every intended delivery date, is not yet complete, and is no longer intended to fly in Afghanistan. As of March 2016, efforts to modify the aircraft remained ongoing, and the program, originally estimated to cost $22 million, has so far cost nearly four times that amount. The most recent intended delivery date for an operable aircraft, which would not include all previously agreed upon modifications, is June 2016. Moreover, in July 2015 the DEA removed all of its aviation operations from Afghanistan; the DEA now intends to use the aircraft for operations in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.

  • The DEA did not fully comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulation and its own solicitation when it purchased the Global Discovery aircraft in September 2008. The DEA did not ensure legitimate needs were identified and trade-offs were properly evaluated, that the aircraft being purchased met operational needs in the most cost-effective manner, and that an evaluation was performed in compliance with its solicitation requirements. As a result, the DEA ultimately awarded an $8.6 million contract for the purchase of the aircraft, which was nearly $3 million more than the DEA had previously estimated.

  • The DEA charged approximately $2.5 million in unallowable and unsupported expenditures to the MOUs it signed with the DOD. These charges included approximately $1.7 million that the DEA diverted to the Global Discovery aircraft from MOUs intended to support other aircraft and operations in Afghanistan. They also included maintenance costs for one aircraft that never flew in Afghanistan and two additional aircraft involved in unrelated DEA missions; training for DEA and contract personnel who never went to Afghanistan; and travel for missions that were unrelated to the DEA’s aviation operations in Afghanistan.

  • The DEA failed to ensure that the MOUs it entered into with the DOD identified clear objectives and deliverables, and it failed to establish an accurate method to track and report performance. As a result, the DEA was unable to perform a meaningful review and analysis of its operations in Afghanistan.

The OIG’s report makes 13 recommendations to the DEA to improve oversight of its MOUs for aviation operations and the Global Discovery Program, and to address more than $11 million in questioned costs. The DEA agreed with eight recommendations, disagreed with two recommendations, and requested additional information or analysis for the remaining three recommendations. The OIG has already closed two recommendations based on actions taken by the DEA.

Report: Today’s report is available on the OIG’s website at the following link: https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2016/a1616.pdf.

Multimedia: The OIG has released both a video message and a podcast to accompany today’s report. The 2-minute video features the Inspector General summarizing the report’s findings, and the 6-minute podcast features the Inspector General and members of the OIG’s staff discussing the report in more detail. The video and podcast, as well as downloadable transcripts and a downloadable picture of the plane, can be accessed at the following link: https://oig.justice.gov/multimedia/.

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