The United States Marshals Services' Management of the Justice Prisoner
and Alien Transportation System

Audit Report 07-01
October 2006
Office of the Inspector General

Chapter 3:  Inherent Risks in Safety and Security

    JPATS lacks sufficient controls to ensure that it properly enforces the regulations it has developed on safety and security. For example, JPATS does not have an adequate mechanism to determine whether it meets its objective of maintaining a ratio of [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] to every [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] passengers. Our review of 1,028 flights showed 130 flights where the number of security crew on board was below the required ratio. Furthermore, we found that the hangars were chronically understaffed. [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] Similarly, we did not find a reliable system for JPATS to monitor the required rest period for crew members so that flights were staffed by well-rested employees. Of the 1,248 flight assignments that we reviewed, we noted 57 where the crew members appeared not have received the appropriate rest period. These deficiencies expose JPATS operations to safety and security risks.

JPATS faces risks in transporting prisoners and aliens that fall into two categories: safety of the flight operations and security controls of the program. To evaluate the safety of the aviation program, we interviewed employees of the flight operations and examined a variety of documentation that included:

  • pilots’ qualifications
  • service limitations
  • crew rest records
  • aviation safety records
  • the Public Aircraft provision.

We also assessed the security controls of the program by interviewing employees in the Security Branch; obtaining policies, manuals, and reports; and examining flight manifests. In this assessment, we focused on the following topics:

  • adequate size of security crews
  • reporting security incidents.

Overall, we found that JPATS has inadequate controls to ensure that it fulfills its safety and security objectives.64 Specifically, we identified the following significant security and safety issues: security crew size on airplanes was inadequate on 130 out of 1,028 flights we reviewed, security crews at JPATS hangers were chronically understaffed for [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] of the shifts we reviewed, and there was no reliable system for monitoring required rest periods for crew members. In addition to these significant findings, we identified other areas for improvement, such as maintaining credentials for pilots and tracking security incidents.

The Public Aircraft Provision

JPATS operates its air transportation as public aircraft and is therefore exempt from most of the regulations imposed on civilian aircraft by the FAA. Pub. L. No. 106‑181 (2000) defines “public aircraft” as “an aircraft used only for the United States Government,” and lists the “transport of prisoners, detainees, and illegal aliens” as one of the eligible governmental functions. However, JPATS has voluntarily implemented policies to mirror most of the requirements followed by civilian aviation operators. According to the officials we interviewed, JPATS followed these aviation policies to reduce the safety and security risks of an aviation program, and to reduce the liability of the government in the event of mishaps.65

JPATS has developed its own Flight Operations Procedures and Manual (FOPM), which contains the principal internal regulations relating to its air transportation. JPATS also seeks to adhere to FAA regulations on qualifications of flight-crew members, aircraft operations, reporting of accidents and incidents, survival equipment, training, and aircraft maintenance.

Pilots’ Qualifications

JPATS pilots must possess the following documents to prove their professional qualification: a pilot’s license, a current Second Class Airman Medical Certificate, and evidence of completion of an FAA-approved flight and ground school.66 The FOPM requires pilots to receive annual recurrent training for each type of aircraft flown. The FOPM further states that pilots who fail to complete the recurrent training will be barred from piloting a specific type of aircraft until the deficiency has been remedied.

The documentation of pilots’ professional qualifications is centrally maintained at JPATS’s Oklahoma City, Oklahoma office where a JPATS pilot has the collateral duty of maintaining the records. We reviewed records for 32 pilots: [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] from Alexandria, Louisiana; [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] from Mesa, Arizona; and [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. The results of our review are as follows.

  • Pilots’ Licenses. We located current pilots’ licenses for all JPATS pilots.

  • Medical Certificates. We were unable to locate the current medical certificates for one pilot from Alexandria, Louisiana and three pilots from Mesa, Arizona.

  • Training Records. We were unable to locate the most recent recurrent training records for one pilot from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and three pilots from Mesa, Arizona.

During our follow-up review in April 2006, the missing medical certificates and training records were located by JPATS.

Nevertheless, JPATS has no formal procedure or controls to ensure that the central files for pilots are complete. In our judgment, JPATS needs a system to ensure that complete records of pilots’ credentials are maintained so as to provide assurance that flight missions are conducted by qualified professionals. Complete documentation on pilots would also assist JPATS management in monitoring the training, health, and professional standing of its pilots.

Background Investigation

The USMS classifies JPATS pilots in the High Risk group in terms of position sensitivity. According to the USMS policy, employees in the High Risk group are required to undergo a successful background investigation prior to their initial appointment, followed by reinvestigation every 5 years.

When we examined the personnel files of the 32 pilots, the files showed evidence of favorable results from background investigations by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). None of the files noted any security concerns from their personal background or prior employment that would disqualify them from performing their present duties. Furthermore, all but one of the 32 pilots were investigated or reinvestigated in a timely manner. The one exception involved a pilot who was also a military reservist, whose re-investigation was interrupted by a military tour to Iraq in 2003.67

Service Limitations at the Mesa, Arizona Airport

To ensure that JPATS conducts its flights at airports that provide the necessary services and safety controls, the FOPM does not authorize any operations at airports that lack operating control towers and fire rescue systems. The FOPM states that deviation from this policy requires a waiver from the Chief of Flight Operations.

We identified one significant deviation from this policy. The Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona, which serves as a JPATS hub does not have a control tower that operates on a 24-hour basis.68 Furthermore, the Airport relies on a local fire station three minutes away for aircraft rescue and fire fighting services. JPATS operated from this airport without a waiver for more than four years, from January 2001 to November 2005. JPATS began operating in Mesa, Arizona, in July 2000 as a pilot project to replace El Paso, Texas, as a hub for transporting aliens in the custody of the former INS. JPATS began this pilot project even though the Mesa, Arizona airport did not have a control tower that operated on a 24-hour basis. Consequently, JPATS Assistant Director issued a waiver in June 2000 for 120 days. The waiver stated that an extension could be granted if the inadequacies continued to exist at the end of the term.

During our audit, JPATS was unable to provide evidence of an extension to the June 2000 waiver. In November 2005, while our audit was in progress, the Chief of Flight Operations issued a new waiver so that JPATS could continue to operate from the Mesa, Arizona airport indefinitely despite the limited hours of the control tower. However, the issuance of a waiver did nothing to address the inherent risk in operating night flights through an airport that lacks the services of a control tower.

During our audit period, the control tower at the Williams Gateway Airport operated between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. daily. After 9:00 p.m., pilots must communicate directly with each other or rely on the control tower at the nearby airport in Phoenix to navigate local air space. The limited hours of the control tower at Mesa, Arizona poses a potential safety risk because the Mesa, Arizona hub schedules evening flights from Monday through Friday. These flights return to Mesa, Arizona around midnight.

Although no safety incidents had occurred in Mesa, Arizona as a result of this shortcoming, the risk of navigating the airspace without an operational control tower at night when visibility is considerably lower than during the day increases the potential that other aircraft in the area will not see the JPATS flight on its approach into Mesa, Arizona. According to JPATS management, it has requested that ICE change the evening flights with daytime flights, in part, to address the safety issues at the Mesa airport. However, ICE has not been willing to change its evening flights to daytime flights, because the evening flights enabled the agency to synchronize with the schedule of immigration courts and deport aliens immediately after the adjudication process is complete. Nevertheless, we believe that this safety concern needs to be addressed by JPATS management.

Crew Rest Records

Adequate rest has been on the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) annual list of “Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements” every year since 1990. In an August 1999 testimony on pilot fatigue before the Subcommittee on Aviation, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives, the Director of NTSB’s Office of Research and Engineering stated that it is difficult to attribute the cause of accidents directly to fatigue. However, the Director stated that scientific evidence “clearly reflects the critical need for adequate rest for those people operating safety-critical equipment.” As one of its 2006 Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements, the NTSB urges transportation operators to “set working hour limits... and provide predictable work and rest schedules based on current fatigue research, circadian rhythms, sleep and rest requirements.”

As a public aircraft program, JPATS is not required to comply with regulations on duty-period limitations and rest requirements imposed by the FAA on the civilian aviation industry. Nonetheless, JPATS has voluntarily complied with FAA regulations by promulgating JPATS Program Directive No. 4, JPATS Flight and Cabin Security Crew Duty Time, Crew Rest Limitations, and Pre-Mission Crew Duty Report Times. The directive outlines specific procedures and rules for JPATS pilots, Air Enforcement Officers, and Air Security Officers to ensure that they remain physically alert and vigilant while performing their assigned duties.

For pilots, JPATS directive sets limits on both the duration of their duty day and their total flight hours. Cumulatively, a pilot cannot fly more than 38 hours in any 7 consecutive days, 100 hours in any calendar month, and 1,000 hours in any calendar year.

Additionally, the directive dictates the rest period that pilots, AEOs, and ASOs are entitled to receive based on the length of their duty day. According to the most recent revision of the directive, flight and security crews are entitled to the following number of hours of crew rest.

Duty Period in Hours69 1 to 14 15 16 16 or more

Entitled Crew
Rest in Hours






AEO and ASO71





Source: JPATS Program Directive No. 4, Revision 5

To avoid staffing a flight mission with employees who are too fatigued to effectively function in their duties, the directive forbids any flight or security crew members to accept assignments that would exceed the duty limits. Instead, crew members must notify JPATS’s Flight Following office when flight missions encounter unavoidable delays.72 Upon notice, the Flight Following office may adjust the next day’s flight schedule to allow for adequate rest or schedule a new crew.

Alternatively, in extreme situations JPATS may issue a written waiver of the mandatory crew rest period. Four persons are authorized to issue such waivers: the Assistant Director of JPATS, the Chief of Flight Operations, the Chief Inspector of Operations, and the Chief of Business Management.

JPATS has not developed a system to monitor the duty periods of flight and security crew members and their entitled rest periods. To test adherence to the crew rest policy, we reviewed the time-and-attendance records of pilots, AEOs, and ASOs stationed at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Alexandria, Louisiana; and Mesa, Arizona.73 We tracked flight assignments for these employees for two periods: from October to November 2004, and from April to May 2005. We examined a total of 1,248 flight assignments and identified 57, or 4.57 percent, where the crew members might not have received the entitled rest periods.

Alexandria Mesa Total

No. of flight
assignments reviewed





Flight assignments
subject to waiver





Source: JPATS

In 55 of the 57 instances, the employees missed their entitled crew rest between 15 minutes and 5.75 hours. The two remaining cases involved two security officers whose duty periods exceeded 16 hours and thus were entitled to 24 hours of crew rest the next day. However, they accepted new flight assignments and missed their entitled crew rest by 16.75 hours.

According to the Chief of Flight Operations, JPATS rarely issued waivers for crew rest because of the increased liabilities associated with flight missions staffed with employees not sufficiently rested. However, JPATS was unable to provide the exact number of such waivers because it has no method of tracking issuances of such waivers. According to the Flight Following office, the crew rest waiver, once issued, is attached to the log of the applicable flight and there is no separate file to segregate the waivers and document such occurrences.

Compounding the complexity of crew rest procedure is the separate handling of waivers for flight and security crews. Waivers for pilots are maintained by the Flight Following office; waivers for the security crew are the responsibility of the Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal (CDUSM) stationed at the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma hub. However, the CDUSM told us that he did not have a recordkeeping system for crew rest waivers issued for the AEOs and the ASOs.

Furthermore, the CDUSM stated that implementing the crew rest policy is difficult for practical reasons because the need for a waiver often arises when a flight mission returns late, typically after normal business hours. Of the four officials qualified to confer waivers, three are stationed in Kansas City, Missouri. Consequently, those individuals typically grant waivers via telephone to facilitate the flight schedule for the following day. However, they do not always follow up the verbal waivers with written authorization. Even when written waivers have been received, the CDUSM conceded that he did not have the administrative support to help him create and maintain a historical file for review and analysis.

Our interviews with JPATS pilots, AEOs, and ASOs yielded a wide spectrum of opinions on JPATS’s crew rest policies. Of the 23 pilots we interviewed, 19 believed that the management has complied with the crew rest policy, while the remaining 4 believed otherwise. On the other hand, 15 of the 18 AEOs and 22 of the 33 ASOs we interviewed believed that they have been over-scheduled beyond the crew rest policy.

One AEO stated that he functions well with fewer then five hours of sleep each night. Several ASOs stated that they had been conditioned to long working hours from their prior experience as law enforcement officers. In contrast to those views, other employees told us the long working hours have exacted tolls on their health and personal lives. Many employees said that their mandatory crew rest has been routinely violated and they have not always received the required written waivers.

The type of flight missions conducted by JPATS also complicates the adherence to crew rest policies. One supervisor stated that it is possible for security crew members to recover from long working hours by resting on the return leg of overseas deportation flights. These missions consist of transporting aliens to a foreign destination, then returning to the U.S. with an empty cabin. Because there are no aliens to monitor on the return flight to the hub, some security guards can rest. According to the supervisor, some guards have told him that if they have recuperated this way, they should be able to accept the next day’s flight assignment despite the late return of such flights.

Aviation Safety Records

To assess the safety records of JPATS, we reviewed information from the NTSB as well as JPATS Safety Officer. Our review on the safety records of JPATS disclosed no aircraft accidents that resulted in fatalities.74 As of March 2006, the NTSB database contained one accident and two incidents involving JPATS from March 1997 to January 2006, as detailed in the following table.

No. Date Location Synopsis



Anchorage, Alaska

Accident. A small plane owned by JPATS was extensively damaged during a training flight, and the plane was declared un-airworthy and liquidated as unsalvageable.75 The two pilots did not sustain injuries. The NTSB attributed the probable cause to the “pilot’s improper remedial action and his failure to maintain directional control to the airplane during landing.”



Wood Dale, Illinois

Incident. A section of the wing flap of a Boeing-727 owned by JPATS fell off during the landing phase of a flight. None of the 108 people on board suffered injuries. The NTSB attributed the incident to inadequate maintenance of the flap segment.



Anchorage, Alaska

Incident. A McDonnell Douglas MD-82 leased by JPATS experienced a partial loss of engine power during the takeoff of a flight. None of the 131 people on board suffered injuries. The NTSB attributed the incident to an inadequate preflight inspection.

Source: NTSB

The JPATS Safety Officer provided us information on other events related to aviation safety. According to his information, the six events occurred from 2001 to 2004, as shown in the following table.

No. Date Location Synopsis



Ft. Huachuca, Arizona

Incident. An aircraft part broke after a normal landing. No injuries were reported.



San Diego, California

Incident. An aircraft part broke after parking the aircraft. No injuries were reported.



Chicago, Illinois

Accident. A landing gear failed and exploded, requiring an emergency landing. All crew members and passengers were evacuated in 97 seconds without injuries.



Anchorage, Alaska

Incident. Takeoff had to be aborted because of a damaged engine part.



Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Incident. Damage to an aircraft staircase was discovered after the plane was transferred to a maintenance facility.



Mesa, Arizona

Incident. The aircraft wing was damaged during taxi for departure.

Source: JPATS Safety Officer

According to JPATS Safety Officer, the safety records of flight operations underwent a difficult phase after JPATS deactivated its service-owned large planes in March 2002. JPATS faced a dilemma: the program had released its own planes for sale, but had not yet procured a leased fleet on a long-term basis as planned. In order to continue its mission of transporting prisoners and aliens, JPATS began operating using leased planes from a Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA). The BOA facilitates the contracting process through pre-negotiated agreements between service provider and receiver. Consequently, the BOA is ideally suited for procurement when an unexpected need arises. Several JPATS management officials stated that JPATS tried but did not succeed in procuring large aircraft through the BOA from nationally recognized commercial airlines, because the number of the aircraft required by JPATS, six, was too small to justify the transaction from a business standpoint. Vendors who responded to JPATS’s request had inventory of aircraft that were not of the highest quality. According to a JPATS quality assurance specialist in aircraft maintenance, the airplanes provided through the BOA all had the required airworthiness certificates to validate their operability.76 Nevertheless, these planes were not maintained to the high standards as the large planes that JPATS once owned.

Of the six aviation safety events reported to us by the Safety Officer, five involved planes supplied under the BOA. The most significant event involved a 2003 accident in Chicago cited above, which required JPATS to evacuate everyone aboard the aircraft. Although no personal injuries resulted from the incident, the aircraft sustained damage. The investigation performed by JPATS concluded that the explosion was the result of faulty components. Nevertheless, the vendor filed a claim against JPATS that is not resolved as of March 2006.

In late 2004, JPATS ceased to operate planes obtained through the BOA. JPATS now obtains large aircraft under a short-term lease. 20 of the 23 JPATS pilots we interviewed believed that the current leased large aircraft operate well and are adequately maintained by contractors.77

Adequate Size of the Security Crew

JPATS publishes its policies on security controls aboard flight missions in its Cabin Security Crew Policy and Procedures Manual (Cabin Manual). The Cabin Manual, last updated in January 2004, defines key security officers of the flight missions, outlines the crew structure, and promulgates policies on scheduling, crew duty limits, dress codes, perimeter security, boarding requirements, and medical regulations.

JPATS employs full-time Air Enforcement Officers (AEOs) and contract Air Security Officers (ASOs) for operational tasks. Besides maintaining order inside the passenger cabin during flight missions, the ASOs also maintain security at the hangars [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]. Of the two functions, security aboard the aircraft takes precedence over the security of the hangar and JPATS [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] reassigns ASOs from hangar security to flight missions when a staffing shortage occurs.

Security Crew During Flight Mission

The Cabin Manual recommends a specific ratio between security officers and passengers. [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]


Some ICE officials [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] security crew [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] for deportation flights involving aliens whose only offense is an immigration violation. However, some of the security officers whom we interviewed told us of instances when they learned that deportees had criminal records in their home countries. Because [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED].78 [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]

Besides the security crew, the cabin staffing of JPATS flights typically includes a flight nurse from the U.S. Public Health Service and employees from the customer agencies. For example, the BOP generally assigns two of its employees to facilitate the transfer and exchange of inmates. Similarly, ICE assigns employees to accompany aliens on its flights. For overseas flights, JPATS sends a flight engineer to address any mechanical issues the aircraft may experience outside the United States.

Prior to each flight mission, the SOIC schedules the required number of ASOs to ensure adequate coverage, delegates specific roles to them, and assigns them a seat inside the cabin.

The SOIC records the flight mission principally by completing an SOIC Daily Log. Currently, the log consists of two parts: the top portion lists the names of the cabin crew members; the lower portion records the actual number of passengers received and discharged at each designated stop along the flight mission. At the conclusion of the flight mission, the log is attached to the Automated Prisoner Scheduling System’s manifest report and stored for archive purposes at the hub offices.

Presently, data from the logs are not entered into any automated information system. As a result, it is not possible for JPATS management to determine whether it has met its objective of staffing full flights with an adequate size security crew. According to the Chief Inspector of Operations, a major challenge in staffing the flights has been the unreliability of the ASOs. Personal-service contract guards are not full-time employees; consequently, JPATS cannot compel them to report for duty. JPATS management knows that last-minute absences of the ASOs have occurred on occasion, resulting in flights with a security crew not sufficient to yield the recommended ratio of officers to passengers. However, JPATS management has no data to establish whether absenteeism of the ASOs is serious enough to have an adverse impact on flight security.

To test the adherence to the policy of staffing flights to yield the recommended ratio between security officers and passengers, we reviewed the logs to obtain information on the crew size as well as the seat utilization reports for the number of passengers aboard the aircraft from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Alexandria, Louisiana; and Mesa, Arizona.79 The following table displays the results of our review of a total of 1,028 flights.80



Source: OIG analysis of data from JPATS Daily Log

Overall, we found that in 87.4 percent of the flights we reviewed (898 of 1,028 flights), the average passenger-to-crew ratio exceeded the recommended ratio [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]. JPATS officials explained that the Security Branch always tries to staff the large aircraft with a crew as [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] as possible, even when the plane is not full upon departure. This strategy ensures that the crew size would be adequate if the plane becomes filled in later segments due to last-minute additions to the passenger list. However, our testing found 130 flights in our sample where the security crew size did not meet the recommended ratio between security officers and passengers.

Security Crew at Hangars

The current JPATS policy states that each JPATS hangar should be protected by [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] security guards [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED].83[SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] Because of staff shortages, however, JPATS rarely staffs hangars with the required number of security guards. Instead, the hubs have adopted different work schedules to address a shortage of guard services. [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]



Source: JPATS

To evaluate hangar security staffing, we reviewed the number of security guards scheduled for the various shifts based on the scheduling reports from the Security Branch for the hangars in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Alexandria, Louisiana; and Mesa, Arizona.85 We reviewed a total of 2,472 shifts from the scheduling reports for these locations and found that all three sites were chronically understaffed, [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED].86



Source: OIG analysis of data from JPATS

Officials from JPATS explained that security of flight missions always has priority over hangar security. When ASOs fail to report for flight missions, contract guards originally assigned to hangar security will be called upon to assist in flight missions. Although we understand the need for adequate security aboard JPATS flights, the absence of a sufficient number of security guards at hangars exposes both the hangars and the aircraft to potential harm.88


Reporting Security Incidents

JPATS uses several types of documentation to report security incidents. The Cabin Manual instructs security officers to report incidents using the Field Report, Form USM-210, and attach a completed copy to the weekly flight packet. A copy of the report is to be forwarded to the supervisor of JPATS’s Security Section. If security guards use [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] to subdue a prisoner or alien, they must also file a Firearms Discharge Report, Form USM -133. According to the Chief Inspector of Operations, all reports relating to JPATS security are centralized with a CDUSM stationed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Firearms Discharge Report, Form USM -133


Field Reports, Form USM -210

We reviewed a total of 117 reports of security-related incidents that occurred in FYs 2004 and 2005; 112 of these were submitted on Form USM -210 and the remaining 5 were submitted by electronic messages. We examined all 117 reports to determine what types of incidents they documented and whether they had received proper supervisory review. All but 14 of the reports had evidence of supervisory review. The table below shows our findings.

Incident type Oklahoma
Alexandria Mesa Total

Between JPATS employees





Between JPATS and
other agency employees





Involving passengers on the ground





Involving passengers in flight





Aircraft malfunction on the ground





Aircraft malfunction in flight





Delay of flight other than
aircraft malfunction





Medical issues of prisoners





Property issues of prisoners















Source: JPATS

At first glance, this table suggests that flights originating at Mesa, Arizona and Alexandria, Louisiana had fewer incidents than flights originating from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. However, our audit found that the file maintained by the CDUSM was incomplete. For instance, during our field work in Alexandria, Louisiana we obtained copies of four Forms USM -210 relating to an incident aboard a March 3, 2005, deportation flight to Honduras that the CDUSM did not maintain in his files.

Our review showed a deficiency in JPATS’s current system of reporting security incidents. After employees have completed Form USM-210, the supervisor at the hub reviews the reports and forwards a certain number to the CDUSM at the hub in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for further review. Because the Cabin Manual does not specify the criteria that the supervisors should use in deciding which reports require further review from the CDUSM, it is impossible to determine the total number of incidents that actually occurred.

We also believe that information on the USM-210 reports may be useful if it is entered into a database for future reference. For example, security incidents involving prisoners and aliens aboard JPATS flights could be entered into a module in APSS. If an agency requested transportation for an individual with a history of security incidents, schedulers using APSS would be able to identify prior security issues quickly and alert the Security Branch prior to flight missions.


JPATS generally has adequate policies on aviation safety and security. However, our audit revealed that the program has inadequate controls to manage adequately the safety risks associated with operating an aviation program and security risks of transporting prisoners and aliens. JPATS cannot reliably track its adherence to its policies on crew rest and the size of the security crew onboard planes. Additionally, JPATS cannot properly account for the credentials of the pilots and the number of security reports filed. To address these and other issues, JPATS should implement reliable controls to adhere to its own security and safety objectives.


We recommend the USMS:

  1. Develop a tracking system to ensure that pilot files contain current copies of their licenses, medical certificates, and training records.

  2. Create a method to monitor the duty hours of flight and security crews to ensure that all crew members receive adequate rest between flight assignments.

  3. Create a mechanism to follow up verbal waivers for crew rest with a written record, and a central location for maintaining written waivers for both flight and security personnel.

  4. Implement a mechanism to track the ratio between security officers and passengers to ensure that flight missions adhere to the ratio in the Cabin Manual.

  5. Ensure that JPATS adheres to its Program Directive on hangar security, including maintaining an adequate level of security at hangars.


  7. Implement a mechanism to comprehensively track security incidents and related reports.

  8. Create a module in APSS to capture information from incident reports to assist in scheduling prisoners and aliens with prior security issues aboard JPATS flights.

  1. See Appendix X for JPATS’ safety philosophy.

  2. The National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) October 2001 report, Public Aircraft Safety NTSB/SS-01/01, the most recent of such reviews, consulted two major agencies that maintain statistics on public aircraft: the FAA and the GSA. Based on the FAA data from 1996 to 1999, the NTSB calculated an accident rate of 3.66 per 100,000 flight hours for non-military, non-intelligence public aircraft. Using the GSA data from the same period, the NTSB calculated an accident rate of 4.58 per 100,000 flight hours for non-military, non-intelligence federal aircraft. The JPATS flew a total of 11,746 flight hours in FY 2004, and 10,517 flight hours in FY 2005.

  3. According to the FAA, a Second Class Airman Medical Certificate is valid for one year plus the remaining days of the month when the medical examination is administered.

  4. The most recently completed investigation of this pilot occurred in 1997, and OPM contacted him in October 2002 for reinvestigation. When OPM contacted him again in early 2003 to correct the required paperwork, he had already been activated for military duty. OPM re-initiated the investigation in March 2006.

  5. The FAA codifies its certification requirements of airports in 14 CFR § 139. To become a certified facility under 14 CFR § 139, an airport must undergo and pass a series of reviews conducted by the FAA, including inspections on administrative functions, movement area, aircraft rescue, firefighting, fueling facilities, and night operations. The Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona, received limited certification in accordance with 14 CFR  § 139 in March 1999.

  6. JPATS’s Program Directive on crew rest specifies the duty reporting and ending time for pilots, AEOs and ASOs according to the hub locations and types of flight missions. For instance, pilots report to the hubs one hour prior to the scheduled departure at all locations except for the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma hub, where they must report an hour and a half instead prior to departure. In the absence of a system that verifies whether an employee reported to or leaving the hub in accordance with the Program Directive, we relied on the time and attendance records as the best estimates of the duty period served by our samples.

  7. While JPATS attempts to mirror the FAA’s regulations on civilian operators, a direct comparison of crew rest requirements for pilots between JPATS and civilian operators is not possible. The reason is that the FAA calculates its crew rest requirements for pilots by scheduled flight time, defined as the “pilot time that commences when an aircraft moves under its own power for the purpose of flight and ends when the aircraft comes to rest after landing.” JPATS, on the other hand, includes pre- and post-flight activities in calculating the duty period. The FAA codifies the crew rest requirements for pilots in 14 C.F.R. § 121.471 as follows:


    Scheduled Flight Time in Hours

    Less than 8



    Crew Rest Requirements in Hours




    Source: 14 C.F.R. § 121.471

  8. The FAA also regulates the rest periods of flight attendants, defined as an individual assigned to “duty in an aircraft during flight time and whose duties include but are not necessarily limited to cabin-safety-related responsibilities.” The FAA calculates flight attendants’ crew rest requirements based on duty period, defined as “elapsed time between reporting for an assignment involving flight time and release from that assignment”; the required rest period may be reduced if certain criteria are met. The FAA’s crew rest requirements for flight attendants are shown in the following table.


    Scheduled Duty Periods in Hours

    14 or less

    14 to 20

    Crew Rest Requirements in Hours



    Source: 14 C.F.R. § 121.471

  9. Located at JPATS’s hub in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the Flight Following office is responsible for tracking the progress of all JPATS flights. The flight log of all JPATS flights is also maintained by the Flight Following office.

  10. Our sample included three employees of each of the three position types for all three locations for a total of 27 employees.

  11. The FAA regulations 49 C.F.R. § 830.2 define an aircraft accident as “an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers death or serious injury, or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage.” The same source defines an incident as “an occurrence other than an accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft, which affects or could affect the safety of operations.”

  12. According to the FAA’s Advisory Circular 43.13-1B, an aircraft is airworthy “when an aircraft or one of its component parts meets its type design and is in a condition for safe operation.”

  13. The FAA prohibits any person from operating a civil aircraft unless it has an “appropriate and current airworthiness certificate” and an “effective U.S. registration certificate”; see 14 C.F.R. § 91.203 (a)(1) and (2). The airworthiness certification process includes: (1) the owner, operator or agent registering the aircraft, (2) the applicant submitting the application to the FAA, and (3) the FAA determining whether the aircraft is safe for operation.

  14. During our field work, we observed a maintenance event on November 10, 2005, in Mesa, Arizona, which caused a delay of a flight mission. The seal in the front wheel well had become aged and cracked, allowing a burnt rubber smell to seep into the cockpit during takeoff. The pilot returned the plane to the hub twice, and continued with the flight mission after the maintenance contractor determined that the cracked seal was not an aviation safety hazard. No crew rest violations occurred from the delay, however, because the following day was a federal holiday without any flight missions. The seal was replaced over the weekend.

  15. For deportation flights, JPATS classifies the deportees into three categories: (I) voluntary returns and administrative deportees; (II) criminal aliens who have been ordered deported and whose crimes are non-violent; and (III) criminal aliens who have been ordered deported and whose crimes are of a violent nature. The Cabin Manual specifies different restraint methods according to the category of deportees.

  16. The seat utilization reports are generated by the accounting system used by JPATS to bill the customers. The number of prisoners and aliens aboard each flight mission in these reports have been verified by customers.

  17. For each flight, we use the leg with the highest number of passengers as numerator and the size of the security crew as the denominator in order to obtain the ratio.





  22. The scope of our testing was the same as that used in reviewing the adequacy of the security crew aboard JPATS aircraft. For FYs 2004 and 2005, we reviewed the first month of each fiscal quarter: October, January, April, and July. For FY 2006, we reviewed October 2006 only.



  25. In May 2005, the OIG issued its United States Marshals Service’s Use of Independent Contractors as Guards, Audit Report 05-13, where we recommended that the USMS expand the use of guard company contracts as a way to address the difficulties of using individual contract guards. JPATS officials stated that they have explored this option and identified a guard company that would charge $2.4 million a year for a regional contract, or $3 million for a national contract. JPATS presented these options at a JEC meeting, where customers voted against this alternative.





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