The Drug Enforcement Administrationís Handling of Cash Seizures

Audit Report 07-06
January 2007
Office of the Inspector General


Appendix XII
Office of the Inspector General, Audit Division, Analysis
and Summary of Actions Necessary to Close the Report

We provided the draft report to the DEA for comment. The DEA’s response, included in this report as Appendix XI, agrees with six of our seven recommendations and proposes corrective action sufficient to resolve the six recommendations. The DEA disagrees with our last recommendation and therefore the recommendation is unresolved. Our analysis of the DEA’s response to the recommendations is provided below.

  1. Resolved. We recommended the DEA clarify its policy on counting seized cash and clearly define the circumstances under which cash should be counted. The DEA agreed and stated that it is in the pilot phase of implementing procedures to use a self-sealing evidence envelope designed to self-authenticate the chain of custody of seized currency and ensure the currency is secured prior to an official count. The DEA stated that once the pilot program is completed, it will change its operational policy to state that DEA personnel will not count seized currency before placing it in the self-sealing evidence envelope, unless the DEA seizes currency in conjunction with state and local law enforcement agencies and these agencies are required by local policy to conduct an immediate count of the currency. The DEA further stated that if an unofficial count of the currency is conducted by DEA personnel, the count will be noted in a DEA-6, Report of Investigation. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing the DEA has developed and issued the stated policy.

  2. Resolved. We recommended the DEA research best practices associated with timely transport of seized cash to banks and implement those practices as widely as possible. The DEA agreed and stated that it will develop operational policy requiring that arrangements be made to transport seized cash to the bank within 2 working days of seizure, unless the seizing office has established a protocol such as regularly scheduled appointments with a financial institution to count seized cash. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing the DEA has developed and issued the stated policy.

  3. Resolved. We recommended the DEA ensure that seized cash is wire-transferred to the USMS whenever possible. The DEA agreed and stated that it is in the pilot phase of implementing new procedures requiring that all United States currency seizures be wire-transferred to the USMS’s Seized Assets Deposit Fund. The DEA stated that once the program is approved, policy will be established to formalize this requirement. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing the DEA has developed and issued the stated policy.

  4. Resolved. We recommended the DEA issue to all staff involved in cash seizure activities periodic reminders of the internal controls to be followed and documented. The DEA agreed and stated that its Office of Inspections recently conducted an inspection of the DEA’s seized and recovered monies program and found similar issues consistent with this recommendation. The DEA stated that it plans to issue reminders of the internal control procedures to be followed to the High Value Seized and Recovered Monies Program participants and that appropriate instructions will be incorporated into multiple training courses, seminars, and programs. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing the DEA has issued the reminders stated and incorporated similar instructions in the training courses, seminars, and programs stated in its response.

  5. Resolved. We recommended the DEA instruct DEA staff who supervise cash handling activities to monitor documentation completed by agents to ensure the forms are sufficiently detailed to show cash handling controls are followed. We also recommended the DEA instruct supervisors to ensure that the required forms are maintained in the case files. The DEA agreed and stated that it recently revised subchapter 6654 of the Agents Manual to require that a detailed description of the surrounding circumstances be included in the custody of evidence sections of all reports. The DEA stated that it will also incorporate this instruction in the Group Supervisor Institute curriculum. The DEA’s planned actions will address this recommendation in the long-term. However, until supervisors receive the revised Group Supervisor Institute curriculum training, interim instructions should be issued to the supervisors to ensure that the required forms are sufficiently detailed and maintained in the case files. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing the DEA has incorporated the stated instructions in the Group Supervisor Institute curriculum and issued interim instructions to supervisors to ensure that the required forms are sufficiently detailed and maintained in the case files.

  6. Resolved. We recommended the DEA identify all evidence custodians who have not attended the DEA’s comprehensive classroom training course and ensure the custodians receive the appropriate training. The DEA agreed and stated it has revised Section 6681 of the Agents Manual to require that all evidence custodians attend formal training provided by the Office of Training. The DEA stated the revised policy should be approved and published within 30 days. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing the DEA has issued the stated policy.

  7. Unresolved. We recommended the DEA ensure that inspection procedures are revised to include steps to measure DEA’s implementation of the controls established for counting cash and for transporting seized cash to the bank in a timely manner. The DEA disagreed and stated that it is already in compliance with this recommendation. The DEA stated that its Office of Inspections already conducts comprehensive reviews of the Seized Monies program and utilizes an inspection checklist that reflects current DEA policies and procedures at the time of the reviews. The DEA stated that as policy changes occur, the checklists are updated to reflect the changes and used to measure overall program compliance.

    We disagree that the DEA is already in compliance with this recommendation. Our audit work showed that all the DEA offices we visited, except the Los Angeles Airport Group Office, had significant non-compliance with the DEA’s cash counting policy. In addition, many of the offices we visited took much longer to transfer seized cash to the bank than other offices. However, none of the 11 DEA Office of Inspections’ reports provided us by the DEA, including reports on 4 of the DEA divisions that we visited, disclosed any problems with DEA offices following the cash counting policy or transporting seized cash to the bank untimely. If the DEA was in compliance with this recommendation, it should have identified the deficiencies we identified and made recommendations to correct the deficiencies. This recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing that the DEA has ensured that its inspection procedures include steps to measure the DEA’s implementation of the controls established for counting cash and for transporting seized cash to the bank in a timely manner.



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