The Department of Justice's
Control Over Weapons and Laptop Computers
Report No. 02-31
Office of the Inspector General
The Department has not taken an active role in the management of property at the components. Instead, it has established and promulgated broad guidelines and delegated responsibility to the component heads. As a result, the Department has been unaware of significant losses of sensitive property and related control concerns.
The Justice Management Division (JMD), headed by the Assistant Attorney General for Administration, is responsible for planning, directing, administering, and monitoring compliance with Department-wide policies, procedures, and regulations concerning property.42 General property management guidelines for federal agencies are prescribed by the Federal Property Management Regulations.43 The Department has implemented and supplemented these regulations with the Justice Property Management Regulations (JPMR).44 The JPMR govern the acquisition, utilization, management, and disposal of personal and real property and are issued to establish uniform property management policies, regulations, and procedures in the Department.
Justice Property Management Regulations
As established by the Assistant Attorney General for Administration, the components are fully vested with the responsibility to manage their property resources. The Department has maintained little control over their activities, and the JPMR does not establish a system for the JMD to oversee property management within the components.
According to the JPMR, bureau heads45 are delegated to designate a Property Management Officer (PMO) responsible for ensuring compliance with internal and Government-wide authorities and guidelines to determine source, acquisition, receipt, accountability, distribution, and disposal of property. Further, the bureau heads are responsible for:
The JPMR requires the bureaus to provide a copy of their manuals, operating guides, and detailed procedures to the JMD. However, the JPMR does not stipulate that JMD must review these documents or oversee any of the bureaus' other responsibilities.
JMD Facilities and Administrative Services Staff,
Property Management Services
Within the JMD, property management is delegated to the Facilities and Administrative Services Staff, Property Management Services office (JMD Property Office). This office administers the JPMR and provides property management services to offices, boards, and divisions of the Department. These services include, but are not limited to, maintaining the official property records, initiating physical inventories, and assisting in the disposal of property.
For the bureaus, JMD Property Office personnel act in an advisory role. They promulgate guidance and request ad-hoc information regarding physical inventories, inventory levels, and responsible personnel. According to JMD Property Office personnel, they do not have explicit authority to monitor the bureaus, but they recognize a need for obtaining information from them. Without stated authority, bureau compliance is not assured. In its advisory role, the office performs the following activities:
Quarterly PMO Meetings - According to the JMD Property Office, it holds quarterly meetings with designated PMOs as a forum to provide information on program initiatives and exchange ideas and strategies. At these meetings, the JMD Property Office provides information on new or pending legislation, emerging technology, new theories for resolution of common issues, and internal and external training opportunities. The meetings are also used as a central place to identify and correct any problems and to obtain concurrence on proposed Department-wide policies, procedures, and technologies.
At the July 2001 and March 2002 meetings, JMD presented a proposal for the use of advanced technology to manage property in the Department. The technology includes the ability to track the location of property using computer software, radio frequency tags, and global positioning systems. The use of such technology could significantly help the Department locate missing property. Also, recent meetings have been used to discuss the JFMIP guidelines and integration/reconciliation of accounting and property systems.
Uniform Training - JMD has proposed to the bureaus that they seek to obtain training from the National Property Managers Association (NPMA). The NPMA offers studies in government property management and certification at three different levels: a certified professional property specialist, a certified professional property administrator, and a certified property manager. To maintain the current level of certification or seek the next level of certification, the NPMA requires individuals to pass, with 75 percent proficiency, a series of comprehensive tests and essays regarding personal property management.
According to the JMD Property Office, all of the components have acquired NPMA certification for key individuals. Although the NPMA is the recognized leader in developing property management standards and proficiencies for industry, universities, and government, the Department is one of few federal agencies that has trained and certified its property management professionals.
Information Requests - At various times, the JMD Property Office has requested the bureaus to provide property management information. For example, in June 2001, the components were requested to provide confirmation that their Board of Survey procedures were in compliance with the JPMR. In addition, the bureaus were asked to provide an evaluation of their property management activities for Fiscal Years 2000 and 2001. These evaluations included the following areas:
In response to the above request, the FBI informed the JMD that a physical inventory was performed between February 1999 and February 2001. The submission noted that the inventory was not complete. However, the FBI did not fully disclose that the last completed inventory was before 1993.
As a result of our audits, the JMD Property Office also initiated monitoring of the bureaus' weapon and laptop computer inventory, including reported property losses. In February 2002, the bureaus were requested to provide to the JMD the following information on a quarterly basis:
As illustrated by the above requests, the JMD Property Office has not taken a strictly hands-off approach to property management in the bureaus. However, since the efforts have been advisory in nature, no action has been taken to verify the information provided by the bureaus. With added authority, the JMD Property Office could be tasked with gathering information at regular intervals and ensuring bureau compliance.
Although it has primary responsibility, the JMD Property Office is not the only JMD office with duties related to the control and accountability of weapons and laptop computers. Some specific tasks are undertaken by the SEPS office, headed by the Department Security Officer. Two SEPS offices are involved: the Information and Technical Security Group and the Facilities and Personnel Protection Group. Their tasks include controlling information technology resources used to store and process sensitive and classified information and receiving semiannual reports of property losses.
Information and Technical Security Group - As noted on page 11, SEPS maintains records of the number of computers, including laptops, that have been authorized for processing classified information within the Department. Along with this task, the SEPS Information and Technical Security Group establishes policy for the security of these machines and the sensitive data they process.
In July 2001, the Department strengthened the requirement that components report incidents of security violations, such as the loss of computers authorized to process classified information. According to the new regulation,46 Department components must report any incident involving the loss, compromise, or other event affecting the security of a classified system immediately. Before this regulation was put into effect, components were to report security violations within 10 working days. Further, components are now required to provide a detailed account of the loss, corrective actions taken to contain the incident, and measures taken to prevent a similar occurrence.
Facilities and Personnel Protection Group - The SEPS Facilities and Personnel Protection Group (Protection Group) is currently the repository of the required Department Semiannual Theft Reports noted on page 20. According to officials in this group, these reports are reviewed to gain perspective of the extent of losses of Department property. The primary concerns had been the economic impact of the losses and any trends that implied a physical security problem in a specific location, but little to no attention was paid to the sensitivity of the lost property or the corrective actions taken by the components to address the situation and to reduce future losses.
It appears that in its present form, the reporting requirement does not assist the Department in assessing the impact of sensitive property losses. Further, as previously noted, we found the components' compliance with the requirement to be generally inadequate because reports were incomplete, inaccurate, or not submitted.
We discussed the Department Semiannual Reports with both the Protection Group and the JMD Property Office. Protection Group officials acknowledged the office is not reviewing the entirety of the information and that the reports could be used in a much more analytical fashion. Similarly, Property Office personnel recognized that the responsibility was not entrusted to the proper operating unit and that the regulation needed revision. We suggested the requirement be continued but that it be incorporated into the JPMR and that the Property Office be given responsibility for ensuring component compliance.