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Budget Execution in the United States Marshals Service During Fiscal Years 2002 and 2003

Report No. 04-02
October 2003
Office of the Inspector General

Other Matters

As part of our review, we examined the USMS's establishment of the Hazardous Response Unit, its opening of foreign offices, and its reprogramming activities in FY's 2002-2003 in light of Congressional interest in these issues.

Hazardous Response Unit

In a memorandum issued June 30, 1999, the Acting Director of the USMS established the Chemical/Biological Office of Preparedness (CBOP) under the Judicial Security Division (JSD). The USMS created the CBOP to coordinate policies and related programs concerning biological and chemical events. The CBOP was responsible for: 1) developing chemical and biological policy; 2) training; 3) conducting exercises; 4) tracking events; 5) identifying required equipment; 6) participating in interagency activities; and 7) establishing a liaison with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal agencies. At that time, only two people were assigned to the CBOP and their work for the unit was a collateral duty assignment.

According to a USMS official, after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the CBOP began receiving many questions from judges and United States Attorney's Offices concerning chemical and biological threats. In response to this increased demand, USMS decided to place an emphasis on staffing and training the unit. As part of this emphasis, the USMS transferred the CBOP from JSD to the District Affairs division in the Office of the Director and reclassified the two collateral duty positions as permanent. In addition, on July 8, 2002, the CBOP announced position openings for 12 collateral duty personnel, and changed the name of the unit to the Hazardous Response Unit (HRU).

According to a USMS official, each of the 14 HRU team members is trained as an Emergency Medical Technician for tactical situations, meaning that HRU team members are armed and can enter dangerous situations to treat victims. When HRU team members are faced with a threat, they attempt to determine what is happening, where the threat has been released, and how to treat the threat. In addition, HRU team members can enter the threatened location immediately because they are armed. The HRU team members are also hazardous material technicians. Most of the HRU's work involves two-person teams traveling to courthouses to survey the courthouses' disaster plans. The same USMS official asserted that no other law enforcement organization is performing these kinds of surveys or preparing to respond to chemical and biological attacks in this manner.

The HRU is currently staffed with 2 permanent staff members and 12 collateral duty members who split their time between the Eastern District of Virginia and the HRU. We reviewed the timesheets of these 12 collateral duty personnel to determine the amount of time spent on HRU duties versus district duties. However, on the timesheets, duty at both the HRU and the Eastern District of Virginia falls under the "Judicial Security" heading. Because the timesheets do not list specific tasks under Judicial Security, we were not able to determine the workload distribution.

A listing of HRU operations, provided by the HRU, showed that the HRU performed 31 operations from September 4, 2002, through June 28, 2003. These operations included protective sweeps, chemical and biological monitoring, and sniper detail. Additionally, the HRU took part in 27 presentations and assessments from November 11, 2002, through July 10, 2003. These tasks included briefings, training of USMS deputies, and chemical and biological awareness classes. Along with these operations, each member of the HRU is expected to take 600 hours of training over the fiscal year.

According to a MBD official, the USMS did not prepare a Congressional Relocation Report (CRR) for the opening of the CBOP or the HRU. The official stated that the creation of the CBOP under the JSD supported the judicial protection mission of the USMS and the JSD. The official asserted that the USMS did not need to prepare a CRR at that time because the CBOP was using pre?existing space at USMS Headquarters and the two personnel positions were collateral duty assignments. The MBD official also stated that, similarly, the USMS did not need to prepare a CRR when the CBOP changed its name to the HRU because the 14 current staff members of the HRU are still using pre-existing space at USMS Headquarters.

JMD guidelines state that a CRR needs to be filed when there are: 1) new offices (physical space) to be opened; 2) offices proposed for closing; 3) office relocations from one Congressional district to another; or 4) expansion or relocation of central Headquarters of over 10,000 square feet. To confirm the USMS's interpretation of the guidelines, we contacted a JMD official and explained the history of the CBOP and the HRU. The JMD official stated that the USMS would not have had to file a CRR for the following reasons: 1) the HRU was using existing space at Headquarters and was not expanding or relocating Headquarters space of over 10,000 square feet; 2) the HRU was a part of the USMS, and thus the HRU was not reimbursing the USMS for the use of the space; and 3) the HRU did not move between Congressional districts or open another office in a new Congressional district.

A USMS official also stated that the USMS is working on establishing a fugitive task force in Springfield, Virginia, that is comprised of the 12 collateral-duty HRU team members. These 12 people would split their time between the HRU and the new task force, and no longer be assigned to the Eastern District of Virginia. The USMS is planning to establish this task force under authority it was granted in the Presidential Threat Protection Act of 20006, but also is preparing a request to DOJ to make the HRU a permanent unit.

Foreign Offices

In 1999, the USMS began implementing a plan to open foreign offices in Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. According to USMS officials, the Ambassadors to these countries and Attorney General Reno requested the opening of these offices due to the large number of United States fugitives in these countries. To staff these offices, the USMS placed series 1811 criminal investigators, who were assigned to USMS districts, on temporary duty, six-month rotations in these locations.

However, in the FY 2002 Conference Report, Congress called for the closing of these foreign offices after learning that the USMS had failed to file a CRR. During our interviews, several USMS officials acknowledged that the USMS's opening of the offices without filing a CRR had been incorrect. The USMS closed the foreign offices in December 2001. The criminal investigators assigned to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic returned to the United States in January 2002. The criminal investigators assigned to Mexico returned to the United States in March 2002.

Subsequently, in the FY 2003 Conference Report, Congress instructed the USMS to open permanent foreign offices in Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. The FY 2003 appropriation also included an additional $1,715,000 of funding for these offices; however, USMS officials noted that they were informed that this amount did not include funding for new positions. Thus, when the foreign offices reopen, the USMS will staff the offices with personnel reassigned from districts on a three-year basis with an optional one-year extension. As of June 30, 2003, none of the foreign offices are open; however, the USMS expects to have all three offices reopened by the end of calendar year 2003.

Reprogramming Activities

According to MBD officials, the USMS neither requested nor initiated reprogramming actions during FY 2002 or FY 2003.7 However, the USMS sought to reprogram $9 million near the end of FY 2001 to cover a rent shortfall. In addition, at the end of FY 2002, funds were transferred out of various cost centers, including the Training Academy, to provide funds for unfunded items in the FY 2002 budget. According to MBD officials, these transfers did not require a reprogramming because of their low dollar amounts and because they did not involve the transfer of funds among decision units.

However, as part of its authority, the USMS regularly realigns funds among costs centers in order to compensate for unfunded items when reprogramming authority is not required. After the Director selects the programs to be funded, the MBD updates the list to indicate those programs that were funded and those that remain unfunded. If a particular item did not get funded after the mid-year review or if a new requirement arises, cost centers may request funding during the third quarter review. As the end of the fiscal year approaches, the "unfundeds" list is updated and forwarded to the Director on almost a daily basis. For FY 2002, we reviewed documentation of the budget reviews and determined that a total of $24,321,343 was realigned to various cost centers to fund projects that were not budgeted for, or not funded, at the beginning of the fiscal year. As an example of an item that was funded through the unfundeds list, the BSD received over $4,800,000 for the purchase of new vehicles at the end of FY 2002. As an example of a source of funding for the unfundeds list, $90,000 was transferred from the Training Academy's account for use towards unfunded programs at the end of FY 2002.

  1. The Presidential Protection Act of 2000 is P.L. 106-544.
  1. A reprogramming is the transfer of funds of funds between decision units, which exceeds $500,000 or 10 percent of the total budget. The nine decision units at the USMS are: 1) Protection of the Judicial Process, 2) Prisoner Transportation, 3) Fugitive Apprehension, 4) Seized Assets Management, 5) D.C. Superior Court, 6) Service of Legal Process, 7) Training Academy, 8) ADP and Telecommunications, and 9) Management and Administration.