Delays were noted in the deputation process of state and local officers potentially affecting the operational effectiveness of the task forces. The FBI could minimize these delays and realize an annual savings of at least $50,400, if deputations were handled internally instead of by the USMS.

State and local law enforcement members of the task forces are deputized as special federal officers and special deputy marshals. The FBI currently has the authority, under 21 U.S.C. Section 878, to bestow special federal officer status to state and local law enforcement officers assisting in FBI drug investigations. However, the Bureau must rely on the USMS to provide Title 18 special deputation to state and local officers who are participating in fugitive apprehension activities and other non-drug task force activities.

Special deputy status is important to task force members because it enables them to act as federal law enforcement officers while under the supervision of the FBI. Special deputy status is more extensive than special federal officer status, as it extends beyond drug investigations. Prior to deputation, the officer would be functioning as a federal officer without the proper authority. This could place the officer in a position where any civil liability incurred would be without the backing of the federal government.

Deputation Delays

The FBI Headquarters Safe Streets Unit managers explained that they had experienced significant delays in the deputation process. According to them, the USMS' involvement makes the process needlessly cumbersome and could hamper the operational activities of task forces. For example, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the task force could not bring federal charges against an individual who assaulted a non-deputized member during a fugitive arrest.

To estimate the magnitude of delays, we examined deputation information for 91 state and local task force officers. Complete data were available for 64 of the 91 officers; deputations for the remaining 27 officers were still pending. For the 64 completed deputations, we determined that the entire process averaged 41 days. In one instance, the process took up to 191 days.

Cumbersome Deputation Process

To determine if the FBI could bestow special deputy status, we requested our Office of General Counsel to research the possibility of the FBI receiving special deputation authority. Based on its research, the General Counsel stated [Memorandum Number OGC-96-016, dated November 25, 1996 ] :

We conclude that the FBI's current authority to deputize state and local law enforcement officers is limited to instances in which these officers are to assist the FBI in the investigation of violations of the federal drug laws and violations of other federal laws that come to light in the context of such investigations. We further conclude that the Attorney General appears to have the power to expand the FBI's deputation authority to other types of investigations, but that if such an expansion is sought, it should be done via a direct request from the Bureau to the Attorney General and after consultation with the Marshals Service.

The effect of authorizing the FBI to appoint special deputies in its Safe Streets task forces would result in a savings of staff resources and time at both the FBI and USMS. We conservatively estimated the time savings as follows.

Perform and approve background investigation Perform and approve background investigation


Forward deputation information to Safe Streets Unit Forward deputation information to Safe Streets Unit


Submit deputation request to FBI Administrative Unit, Criminal Investigative Division Not required

.5 hour

Process and forward deputation information to the USMS Not required

.5 hour

Review and process requests and send to the local U.S. Marshal Not required

1 hour

Approve request and arrange for the swearing in of the officer Not required

.5 hour

Task force officer appointed as a special deputy by the local U.S. Marshal Task force officer appointed as a special deputy concurrently with receiving special federal officer status by the FBI Special Agent in Charge



2.5 hours

[The information used in designing this chart was derived from interviews with the personnel involved in the deputation process, not from time studies or actual observations.]

Assuming for simplification purposes, that all functions were performed at a GS-12, step 1 level, and each hour costs $20.16 [Annual salary of $41,926 divided by 2,080 hours worked per year equals $20.16.] , our model indicated a savings of 2.5 hours, or $50.40 for each deputation. Thus, the FBI could put at least $50,400 of staff resources to better use each year as over 1,000 state and local officers are deputized annually.


The deputation process of state and local task force members could be streamlined if the FBI obtained the authority to deputize its task force members without assistance from the USMS. The FBI could avoid long delays and realize an annual savings of at least $50,400, if deputations were performed internally.



We recommend that the Director, FBI:

8. Seek the Attorney General's concurrence, after consultation with the USMS, to delegate deputation authority to the FBI for the limited purpose of providing special deputation to state and local members of FBI Safe Streets task forces.