Civil Debt Collection Reconciliation Process
Report No. 02-08
Office of the Inspector General
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) completed a follow up audit to the OIG's Audit of the Office of Debt Collection Management's Implementation of the Collection Litigation Automated Support System, Report Number 01-15. In that audit, which was issued on July 3, 2001, we identified discrepancies between civil debt collections reported by the United States Attorneys (USAOs) and the litigating divisions with the Department of Justice (Department) Treasury account deposits for FY 1998 and FY 1999, as reported by the Justice Management Division's (JMD) Debt Accounting Operations Group (DAOG); and inconsistencies between the fiscal year ending civil debt balance and the subsequent year's beginning civil debt balance reported by the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) for those fiscal years.
Civil debt that has been established as an amount owed the United States Government may be referred to the Department for collection from other federal agencies, or may originate from litigation at the Department. Civil debt is collected through litigation by the 94 U.S. Attorneys (USAOs) and the 5 litigating divisions within the Department that have authority to collect debts through litigation. Additionally, civil debt may be collected by Private Counsel offices 1 within certain judicial districts. The Office of Debt Collection Management (DCM) is the office within JMD that annually reports the status of the Department's collection efforts. The DCM is responsible for overseeing the collection of debt and developing programs to support the collection of debts by USAOs and the litigating divisions within the Department.
In this audit we attempted to determine the causes of the differences between collections reported by the USAOs and the litigating divisions and Treasury deposits reported by the DAOG. Differences of $98 million and $220 million were identified in FY 1998 and FY 1999, respectively. We also attempted to determine the reasons for the inconsistencies between the EOUSA's beginning year civil debt balances and prior year ending balances for FY 1999 and FY 2000. We found that the Department's civil debt collection reporting process needs to be strengthened. Collection activity reported by the USAOs and the litigating divisions are not reconciled with amounts reported by the DAOG as deposits in the Department's Treasury Account. Additionally, the EOUSA is not adequately reviewing monthly extracts from the Tracking Assistance for the Legal Office Network prepared by USAO districts before compiling the national level report to ensure that reported beginning year balances of civil debt agree with the prior year ending balances.
Based on the audit results, we made two recommendations. We recommended that the Acting Assistant Attorney General for Administration ensure that procedures were implemented to reconcile amounts reported as collected by the USAOs and the litigating divisions against the amounts reported as collected in the Department's Treasury Account. We also recommended that the Director, EOUSA ensure that data extracts were adequately reviewed prior to preparation of summary reports.
Our audit objectives, scope, and methodology are contained in Appendix I.