- Resolved. The FBI agreed with our recommendation and reported that it intends to deploy to Legat Ottawa the positions that were approved for a three-person (two ALAT/one Office Assistant) sub-office in Toronto. The FBI anticipates that the personnel will be selected and deployed by mid summer 2004. Further, the Office of International Operations (OIO) believes that this infusion of personnel will significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the backlog of work in Legat Ottawa. In order to close this recommendation, please provide us with documentation showing that the personnel have been deployed to Legat Ottawa, along with quarterly workload reports for the 12 months following the completion of the deployment, and an analysis performed to determine if the staffing is adequate. In the interim, please keep us informed about the status of filling these positions.
- Resolved. The FBI responded that it agreed with our assessment of the policy underlying the need for all FBI travelers to request and obtain a country clearance in advance of foreign travel and emphasized the Legat’s role in this process. The OIO acknowledged that some FBI travelers to Canada had failed to request country clearances but indicated that the 135 instances cited by the OIG were overstated. Specifically, after our exit conference, the OIO said it contacted a random sample of 29 employees who had submitted 42 of the 135 travel vouchers and determined that for 74 percent of these voucher submissions, a country clearance request had been submitted to Legat Ottawa. However, the response was silent regarding whether the country clearances for these 42 trips were actually approved and documented. As we pointed out in the report, the 135 discrepancies were based on information provided by Legat Ottawa as well as OIO’s research of its records and ACS. At the time this research was initiated, we suggested that OIO contact individual employees to ascertain whether these employees could provide evidence of country clearance, but OIO declined to do so. As we also stated in our report, the fact that OIO had to contact individuals, rather than obtaining this information from a centralized source, in our opinion, demonstrates a weakness in the internal control over country clearances for FBI employees traveling abroad. Moreover, after all of this research, the FBI still did not provide evidence of approved country clearances for the discrepancies we identified.
The FBI also stated in its response that the centralization at FBI Headquarters of country clearance processing was attempted by the OIO in the year 2000 without success. Instead, OIO said that it will remind each Legat office of the importance of keeping accurate records and maintaining control files and will work with the Inspection Division to ensure these control files are reviewed for compliance during each Legat inspection. While we did not examine OIO’s unsuccessful centralization of the country clearance process, we are unconvinced that a centralized source for maintaining this information is not viable. Nevertheless, OIO’s proposed alternative approach seems reasonable; therefore, we consider this recommendation resolved.
In order to close this recommendation, please provide us with the: 1) communication issued to all Legat offices reminding them of the importance of keeping accurate records and maintaining control files, and 2) country clearance communications for the 31 vouchers (74 percent of 42 vouchers sampled) that were subsequently located and provided to OIO by individuals.
- Resolved. As stated in Number 2, the Inspection Division plans to review country clearance files as part of its reviews of Legat offices. In addition, the Office of Inspections said it will review compliance with country clearance requirements by reviewing vouchers for foreign travel as part of the financial audit conducted during on-site inspections of domestic field offices. In order to close this recommendation please provide us with a copy of the guidance that will be provided to Inspectors for use during their reviews of country clearance requirements at Legat and domestic field offices. In addition, provide us with samples of Legat and field office inspection reports that demonstrate country clearance requirements were reviewed and the results obtained.
- Resolved. The FBI agreed with our recommendation and said that the Director recently approved “Border Liaison Office” status for the Buffalo field office, which permits FBI Special Agents assigned to the Buffalo field office to travel approximately 50 miles into Canada for routine investigative matters. The FBI added that the Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo field office provides summary information concerning the need for the travel to Legat Ottawa and that Legat Ottawa has confirmed that this is being done. The FBI’s response was silent, however, as to how other FBI field offices near the Canadian border coordinate their investigative activities with Legat Ottawa. This recommendation can be closed when the FBI provides: 1) an example of the summary information provided to Legat Ottawa by the Buffalo field office, 2) Legat Ottawa’s confirmation that Buffalo is adequately coordinating its activities, and 3) specific comments addressing how other border offices are
coordinating their activities in Canada with Legat Ottawa.
- Resolved. In its response, the FBI stated that it agreed with the recommendations contained in the Inspection Division’s report and has initiated actions to implement the recommendations. The FBI, however, did not address one of the recommendations dealing with the need to study the feasibility of FBI employees completing a temporary duty assignment in a Legat office as a prerequisite for applying for a Legat vacancy. To close the OIG’s recommendation, the FBI needs to address this recommendation and provide us with documentation for the actions that have been taken on the others as shown in the following table.