The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced today the release of a report examining the DOJ’s use of extended temporary duty (ETDY) travel. The OIG identified multiple concerns with the DOJ’s use of ETDY travel, including policies that were inconsistent or outdated.
DOJ employees are often required to travel in furtherance of their official duties. When an employee travels for longer than 30 calendar days to a single location that is more than 50 miles away from his or her permanent duty station, the employee is considered to be in ETDY status. To account for the reduced costs associated with traveling for an extended period, employees in ETDY status can be restricted to a reduced amount of travel reimbursements.
The OIG’s audit focused on the following DOJ components that made significant use of ETDY: the Criminal Division, the Executive Office for United States Attorneys and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices (EOUSA/USAO), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Security Division (NSD). Based on the limited data available, we estimated that, from fiscal year (FY) 2012 through the first quarter of FY 2014, employees of these four components entered ETDY status 4,788 times, and the components incurred ETDY-related expenses of more than $54 million.
The specific findings in today’s report include:
- The current DOJ policy governing ETDY travel needs to be updated. The DOJ’s ETDY policy, from September 1998, is outdated and does not require components to track ETDY activity, despite its high costs, and does not require travelers to disclose information that might lead to better management of funds, such as whether or not anyone in the traveler’s household is also receiving benefits for relocation costs. Prior to the start of our audit, DOJ officials recognized the need to update this policy, and the DOJ told us that it anticipates issuing an updated policy in the near future.
- The components we reviewed did not consistently interpret and implement the existing DOJ ETDY policy. Among the inconsistencies we identified, we found that the DOJ does not have a consistent policy in place for tax exemptions involving travel related reimbursements, and that certain travelers did not receive W-2 forms for ETDY-related reimbursements that were considered taxable income.
- DOJ’s tracking and monitoring of ETDY needs improvement. We found that DOJ components tracked ETDY in only a minimal and manual manner. We also found that component reports relating to ETDY were incomplete and inconsistent, preventing us from identifying the full universe of DOJ’s ETDY activity.
- The DOJ needs additional internal controls to ensure cost-effective use of ETDY to meet mission needs. Due to inadequate internal controls, some employees who were on ETDY infrequently used their temporary duty accommodations, while other employees were authorized to travel repeatedly for multiple consecutive weeks without being placed on ETDY. Still other travelers spent prolonged periods of time on ETDY travel – we identified instances of 2 to 12 years -- indicating that components may be inappropriately relying on ETDY to respond to staffing issues in particular locations.
Today’s report makes 14 recommendations to help the DOJ improve its oversight and use of ETDY. The DOJ concurred with all of the recommendations.
The report released today can be found on the OIG’s website at the following link: https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2015/a1533.pdf#page=1.