Civil Debt Collection Reconciliation Process

Report No. 02-08
March 2002
Office of the Inspector General



    U.S. Department of Justice
Executive Office for United States Attorneys

Office of the Director   Washington, DC 20530
March 15, 2002

Guy K. Zimmerman
Assistant Inspector General for Audit
Kenneth L. Wainstein (original signed)
Comments on Draft Audit Report, “The Civil Debt Collection Reconciliation Process”

This responds to your request for comments by the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) on the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) draft audit report of the civil debt collection reconciliation process. I appreciate the opportunity to address the recommendations provided within the report. Generally, EOUSA agrees that the recommendations outlined in the report would bolster the validity and reliability of the Department’s debt collection reconciliation process.

While the report’s first recommendation is directed to the Assistant Attorney General for Administration, we will work with JMD to ensure that we have the information necessary to complete a reconciliation. The report’s second recommendation applies to the Director, EOUSA:

OIG Recommendation 2:

Ensure that data extracts are adequately reviewed prior to preparation of the summary report.

EOUSA Response to Recommendation 2:

EOUSA has developed several quality control measures to both monitor and remedy the discrepancies in the fiscal year ending balance and the next year’s beginning balance as reported by the TIGAS system. The discrepancies in the past, were caused by two primary reasons: data extract load errors and errors caused by various types of financial adjustments which can be made to a debt’s balance.

Load Errors

As discussed in the OIG’s report, EOUSA receives data extracts from each district on a monthly basis and loads that data into a central database system called TIGAS. EOUSA identified the cause of the data extract load errors in Fiscal Year (FY) 2001 and developed several layers of quality control to check and re-check the data before it is loaded into the database to generate the fiscal year reports. Since those measures have been put in place, no discrepancies have occurred which are a result of data extract load errors.

In addition, EOUSA is in the process of further mitigating this issue by centralizing the 94 TALON databases which are located in each of the district offices into a single, centralized database to be located in Washington, D.C. As a result, the districts will no longer be required to create and send the data extracts to EOUSA because all of the data will reside centrally. The centralization of the data will also greatly increase EOUSA’s ability to monitor and manage the USAO debt collection efforts.

Financial Adjustment Errors

In reviewing the ending balance for FY 2001 and the beginning balance for FY2002, the reports continued to show discrepancies in a number of USAOs. EOUSA undertook an effort to identify each district that reported a discrepancy and each case in which a discrepancy exists. In analyzing those cases, it was determined that an error occurred as a result of a financial adjustment either not being reflected properly by the system or not entered correctly by the user, EOUSA plans several actions to mitigate and eventually resolve this issue.

First, EOUSA plans to run the ending/beginning balance report on a monthly basis in order to identify any district reporting a discrepancy. A subsequent report will be used to analyze the individual cases of any district reporting a discrepancy, to identify the specific cause(s) of the problem. Once the case(s) is identified, EOUSA will work with the district to determine the cause of the error and to develop a remedy for it.

Second, EOUSA plans to undertake a detailed review of all of the finance codes used by TALON to determine if the system accurately captures and manipulates the data entered using those codes. As inconsistencies are identified, appropriate measures will be taken to correct the problems.

Finally, EOUSA is in the final stages of development of an entirely new version of its debt tracking system, TALON. In conjunction with the centralization effort noted above, the new version will be deployed in the USAOs in August and September of this year. TALON 7.0.0 includes several enhancements to restrict the use of the financial codes which control adjustments to the debt balance. EOUSA believes this will greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the cause of these discrepancies altogether.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this draft report. BOUSA appreciates the IG undertaking a review of the civil debt collection reconciliation process and will continue to implement the recommendations, as appropriate. If you have any questions regarding this response, please contact Laurie Levin, Assistant Director, Financial Litigation Staff, at (202) 305-3373.