September 21, 2006
||Glenn A. Fine
||Response to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Draft
Audit Report: Management of Seized Assets and Evidence by the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) appreciates the opportunity to respond to the recommendations from the OIG’s above-cited draft report. We welcome constructive criticism of our programs, as this independent review process typically helps us to improve our ability to plan and manage our resources more efficiently.
In general, ATF concurs with the findings and recommendations of your report and will address each recommendation in a corrective action plan. Our responses to your recommendations are as follows:
Recommendation Number 1: Continue to work with the Department of Justice (DOJ) Asset Forfeiture Management Staff (AFMS) to resolve the outstanding ATF system’s compatibility requirements and complete the migration of ATF’s data from FASTRAK to CATS by the scheduled completion date of April 13, 2007.
Response: We concur with this recommendation. ATF is working and will continue to work diligently with AFMS to resolve the outstanding ATF system’s compatibility requirements toward the complete migration of ATF’s data from FASTRAK to CATS. The scheduled completion date has been revised to June 30, 2007. This date is subject to change based on testing and development cycles, which are beyond the control of ATF and AFMS. ATF’s Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Asset Forfeiture and Seized Property Branch (AFSPB) managers have regularly scheduled meetings with the DOJ CIO and the AFMS Director to assure that we remain on track with completing the migration in a timely manner.
Recommendation Number 2: Provide appropriate supporting documentation to the AFMS for the forfeited funds deposited with Treasury so that current and future funds can be expeditiously reconciled with Treasury and transferred to the DOJ Asset Forfeiture Fund.
Response: We concur with this recommendation. ATF has provided and will continue to provide AFMS and the Treasury Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture (TEOAF) the appropriate supporting documentation so that current and future funds can be expeditiously reconciled and transferred. The Special Agent in Charge, AFSPB attended a meeting on September 5, 2006 with TEOAF representatives, who stated that funds from Fiscal Years 2003, 2004, and 2005 are ready to be transferred from TEAOF to AFMS. On September 15, 2006, TEOAF stated that they had been working on the figures and are planning to have the numbers finalized during the week of September 18, 2006. Once the numbers are finalized, TEOAF will initiate the electronic transfer to AFMS.
Recommendation Number 3: Establish a plan that addresses safeguarding seized assets and evidence in the event of a significant act, such as a natural disaster.
Response: We concur with this recommendation. A short term solution will include the relocation of the seized assets and evidence immediately or as soon as practical after a significant act. This relocation will be accomplished through the use of a large shipping container, which will be moved by a large commercial truck and trailer. The seized assets and evidence will be secured in the container and transported to the nearest safe warehouse, which is alarmed for intrusion and fire. The container will be unloaded and alarmed for intrusion and fire. A 100 percent inventory will then be conducted to ensure all seized assets and evidence is accountable. If anything is unaccounted for, the current policy, as outlined in ATF O 3400.1B for reporting such incidents, will be followed. This practice is currently in place for large scale seizures of assets and evidence that will not fit into ATF storage vaults.
As a long term solution, ATF will revise ATF O 3400.1B, Property Taken into Bureau Custody, ATF’s Critical Incident Management System (CIMS) process, and the Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) to provide for the prompt relocation of seized assets and evidence in the event of a significant act as outlined above.
Recommendation Number 4: Ensure that the vault at the Beaumont, Texas, Field Office meets the minimum structure security requirements.
Response: We concur with this recommendation. The entire Beaumont, Texas, Field Office, to include the evidence vault, was recently refurbished due to damage which occurred as a result of Hurricane Rita. The vault currently meets ATF minimum structure security requirements as defined by ATF O 3400.1B. The walls have reinforced mesh wire from floor to ceiling to be resistant to forced entry. The field office personnel moved back into the space on July 30, 2006. All evidence was returned to the vault and accounted for by a 100 percent inventory during the week of August 28, 2006.
Recommendation Number 5: Ensure that all firearms taken into custody since July 2005 are traced through the National Tracing Center.
Response: We concur with this recommendation. A memorandum dated September 18, 2006, signed by the Deputy Director, was sent to ATF field divisions reminding them to ensure accuracy when entering firearm descriptions, to include serial numbers, into N-Force. It also reminded them at the conclusion of the active phase of the investigation to go back and submit descriptions on all firearms not previously traced due to operational security.
In conclusion, ATF has an outstanding record of attaining excellence in law enforcement standards that I look forward to continuing and expanding. I believe that professional integrity and character are core expectations for those of us in public service, and I believe that employees’ actions, both personal and professional, must withstand public scrutiny and be beyond reproach. I will continue to express my expectations to the ATF workforce and lead ATF’s effort to achieve the trust and respect of the American public.
Should you have any questions regarding this response, please contact Ms. Carol Campbell, Chief, Audit and Evaluation Branch, Inspection Division, Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations, at (202) 648-9205.
Michael J. Sullivan