Audit of the Department of Justice, Office of the Federal Detention Trustee

Audit Report No. 05-04
December 2004
Office of the Inspector General

Appendix IV

Office of the Federal Detention Trustee Response

The text in this Appendix was prepared by the auditee and uncorrected by the OIG.


U.S. Department of Justice
Office of the Detention Trustee
Washington, D.C. 20530

November 23, 2004



SUBJECT:Response to Draft Audit Report -- The Department of
Justice's Office of the Federal Detention Trustee

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft audit report of your review of the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee. We have reviewed the recommendations in the report, and our comments are attached.

Should you have questions or concerns regarding this response, please contact Fran Wermuth, Chief, Strategic Planning and Analysis. She can be reached at 202-353-4601.


Office of the Federal Detention Trustee Response to Draft Audit Report on the Review of the Department of Justice's Office of the Federal Detention Trustee

Recommendation 1. In coordination with OMB and Congress, clearly identify the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee's (OFDT) mission and responsibilities.

Agree - OFDT submitted to the Department, on September 13, 2004, a reorganization proposal that provides for OFDT to undertake an oversight role, including strategic management, budget execution and formulation, and policy. It is anticipated that this reorganization will move forward before the end of the calendar year.

Recommendation 2. Prepare a strategic plan for the OFDT that clearly identifies and communicates the role, functions, and goals of the office.

Agree - OFDT's reorganization proposal provides the framework for the strategic plan that clearly identifies and communicates the role, functions, and goals of the office. Once the reorganization is approved, OFDT will finalize and submit the strategic plan for approval. We anticipate this will occur in the second quarter of FY 2005.

Recommendation 3. Evaluate the functions assigned to the OFDT in order to ensure that the office has the necessary complement of staff, experience, and skill sets to carry out the strategic plan.

Agree - OFDT's proposed reorganization plan provides this analysis and enables the Trustee to work with the Justice Management Division and the Department's leadership toward our goal of ensuring that OFDT has the staff, experience, and skill sets necessary to carry out the strategic plan. These issues are being addressed and it is anticipated that the correct complement of staff will be in place by the end of FY 2005.

Recommendation 4. Evaluate the current IAA with ICE and determine if it best serves the government, the Department, and the OFDT, and if necessary, coordinate with ICE to make any necessary modifications.

Agree - OFDT has already initiated discussion with the Acting Director of Detention and Removal about the need for an amended IAA. It was agreed that OFDT would begin the first draft to further define roles and responsibilities, and use that draft as a starting point to discuss with OMB their concerns that there be a unified procurement process and no competition between detention agencies.

Recommendation 5. Establish and communicate formal policies and procedures to manage the OFDT/USMS reimbursement agreement to ensure that the detention funds are properly monitored.

Agree - OFDT currently provides the USMS with a reimbursable agreement that limits the amount of available resources to time periods based on total availability of funds. Accordingly, for FY 2005, the Trustee is requiring the USMS to develop a district-level operating plan that must be submitted to the Trustee's Office for approval once the FY 2005 budget is passed. The Trustee will then chair a quarterly budget meeting that the USMS will be required to attend at the end of each fiscal quarter where adjustments will be made accordingly and incorporated into the reimbursable agreement. The Trustee will also request the USMS to submit any impact statements that will address how limited funds or necessary adjustments to the operating plan may impede its mission.

A more regulated spending plan and reimbursable agreement process for both USMS headquarters and district offices will refine the current process and reduce the previous confusion on accountability. It will lend itself to providing a forum to ensure that the USMS and Trustee's office are fully engaged and to ensure accountability in order for the USMS to remain within the limitations of the FY 2005 budget. It is anticipated that this action will impress upon district management the limited resources that are available and consequently the need to determine the most cost effective detention space and services.

Recommendation 6. Formulate and communicate a clear, firm decision regarding the responsibility for management of JPATS.

Agree - Department of Justice leadership is currently reviewing this issue and discussing available options with Congress.

Recommendation 7. Refine the forecasting methodology that is used to project future detention bed space needs to more accurately estimate the resources needed.

Agree - For two years the federal prisoner detention account has experienced a significant budget shortfall. The root of the detention account shortfall began in FY 2003, when the average daily population began to exceed projections. Although a certain degree of statistical error is anticipated in population projections, the inaccuracy in the FY 2003-2004 projections, combined with mandatory rescissions and an error in the computation of federal beds, resulted in the largest shortfall in the history of this account. Accurate forecasting is at the core of sound detention management.1

OFDT utilized a new model based on trend analysis for projections in FY 2005 and FY 2006, and OFDT is now refining that model to incorporate future requirements of planned priorities that would add to trend analysis. Providing reliable projections for the detainee population requires identifying measurable and reliable leading indicators and incorporating those into the projection methodology. Such leading indicators would include increases in the number of new law enforcement officer and Assistant U.S. Attorney positions. Additionally, anticipated law enforcement initiatives must be incorporated into the forecasts. Although there will always be uncontrollable, external factors (e.g. Blakely v. Washington) that impact the prisoner detention account, a more refined projection model will result in a better managed account, thus improving the ability to manage unforeseen negative impacts.

Recommendation 8. Evaluate the previously submitted FY 2006 budget request to determine if an adjustment needs to be made to ensure that a shortfall does not occur.

Agree - OFDT and JMD have already begun to update the budget requests at each step in the process. For example, the initial request was made to the Department in May 2004. The request was evaluated at the time of the OMB submission and will be re-evaluated for the President's Budget Request to Congress.

Recommendation 9. Continue efforts to and (sic) require the steering committee to report results related to reducing the average detention time during both the pre-trial and post-sentencing phases, including the pilot project on the Southwest border.

Agree - The time interval from sentencing to commitment has increased from 30 days in FY 1994 to 47 days in FY 2002. The Arizona Sentencing to Incarceration Pilot Project, which has the full support of the Deputy Attorney General, was created by the Trustee to reverse this trend. The system design for the project is complete and in place; all agencies have access to the server and are pleased with the simplicity of the planned process; and numerous demonstrations have been given to agency heads at OFDT's fully- equipped test lab. OFDT is now waiting for certification and accreditation from the Justice Management Division. OFDT developed the automation that met all agencies' requirements. However, because AOUSC and DOJ networks are not linked, the two systems cannot currently share electronic information. All agencies have their own IT policies, allowable hardware/software applications and security protocol. Several field tests have been successfully conducted and all participating offices have had training. OFDT is working with Department information technology personnel to implement the project as quickly as possible. We anticipate this to occur by the end of 2004, possibly sooner, if interim approval is granted.

Recommendation 10. Examine the policies and practices regarding IGAs to develop additional areas in which detention costs can be reduced.

Agree - While this is primarily a USMS responsibility, the OFDT has a strong oversight role. As a first step, the Trustee will require that each detention agency strategically plan its procurement needs utilizing an Advance Procurement Plan (APP) and submit that plan to OFDT. An effective APP will provide a foundation to identify the number and location of prisoner bed spaces needed for all detention agencies. This will allow a unified process to ensure equality in rates and ensure more coordinated efforts for detention activities, including bed space (through IGAs or fixed-price contracts), medical care, transportation means, and guard services.

Recommendation 11. Develop a plan for reviewing and verifying the allowability of costs associated with individual IGAs.

Agree - Currently, there is little coordination of procurement for detention services between agencies. The Trustee would like a more standardized approach, and would like to work with the Office of Legal Policy to review the OMB A-87 Circular to determine if there are additional options that may improve implementation of IGAs that would result in cost containment or reduction. I believe we can make improvements to the process, such as categorize facilities, which will enable us to establish standard rates, thus ending or reducing the need to negotiate IGAs. Additionally, the Trustee continues to support the USMS Program Review audit process for IGAs, which has saved millions of dollars of detention funds.

Timeline: Five (5) year acquisition management and advance procurement plans in place by March 2005, tied to the FY 2007 budget request and OFDT Strategic Plan.


  1. Although the number of persons indicted is a leading indicator for forecasting BOP incarceration requirements, there are no clear leading indicators that can be easily incorporated into the detention-forecasting model.