The Department of Justice's Terrorism Task Forces
Evaluation and Inspections Report I-2005-007
Office of the Inspector General
The OIG sent copies of the draft report to EOUSA with a request for written comments on Recommendations 3, 4, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 28. EOUSA responded to the OIG in a memorandum dated May 17, 2005. Although EOUSA believed that the draft report did not adequately present the challenges faced by EOUSA, USAOs, and CTS since September 11, 2001, and credit their achievements, EOUSA concurred with all of the recommendations. EOUSA agreed to develop a national training plan for the ATAC Coordinators, assist the ATAC Coordinators in developing a training plan for ATAC members, develop a coordinated strategy with the FBI for reaching remote areas, develop performance measures for the ATAC program, and provide guidance to ATAC Coordinators on roles, responsibilities, and management of an ATAC. EOUSA presented general comments on four issues and then addressed each recommendation. Our analysis of EOUSA's response follows.
Shared Responsibilities. EOUSA stated that the report did not adequately reflect the shared responsibilities between EOUSA, CTS, and the USAOs for the oversight, monitoring, and evaluation of the ATAC program. EOUSA stated that the U.S. Attorneys have primary responsibility for implementing and coordinating the ATACs in their judicial districts. CTS assists in coordinating the ATAC program and has primary responsibility for coordinating terrorism cases and investigations across the USAOs. EOUSA provides support for the USAOs, has responsibility for training Department employees (which includes ATAC Coordinators), and serves as a liaison between the USAOs and the Department. EOUSA cited a January 13, 2005, memorandum from the Deputy Attorney General to the U.S. Attorneys and the ATAC Coordinators as the most recent guidance on the roles of CTS and the USAOs regarding international and domestic terrorism cases.
The OIG's Analysis. The OIG believes the report adequately outlined the shared responsibilities for the ATAC program. However, we encountered a lack of understanding on the part of ATAC Coordinators regarding these shared responsibilities. The ATAC Coordinators we interviewed and surveyed were unsure to which entity to report activities, ask questions, or get direction about ATAC operations (including information sharing, meetings, and training, but not prosecutions). The Deputy Attorney General's January 13, 2005, memorandum cited by EOUSA only defines roles of CTS and the USAOs in relation to terrorism prosecutions and investigations, not ATAC operations. When we interviewed the former and current EOUSA points of contact for the ATACs, they both stated that EOUSA provided training and budgetary administrative support to the ATACs, the same administrative support it traditionally provides to the USAOs in all programs. EOUSA at that time did not view its' role as one of oversight to the ATAC program. Both EOUSA and CTS now seem clear on their roles and responsibilities in the ATAC program, but these roles and responsibilities have not been adequately communicated to the USAOs or the ATAC Coordinators. For example, most ATAC Coordinators expected the CTS Regional ATAC Coordinators to provide guidance, not only on terrorism prosecutive and investigative strategies but also on ATAC operations, which is an EOUSA responsibility.
Training. EOUSA stated that the report did not adequately recognize the number and quality of counterterrorism training provided by EOUSA to ATAC members and ATAC Coordinators since the inception of the ATAC program. EOUSA outlined a variety of training sessions that have been provided to ATAC Coordinators and members.
The OIG's Analysis. The OIG recognizes that EOUSA, with assistance from CTS, has developed and provided a significant number of training sessions for the ATAC Coordinators. In fact, we did not receive complaints about training on prosecutive and investigative issues. However, we found in our interviews and survey that ATAC Coordinators wanted additional, more extensive training on day-to-day operations of the ATAC, a topic that the Coordinators said received minimal coverage during any training sessions they attended.
The OIG reviewed the syllabi of the conferences and training listed by EOUSA in its response, and we attended the 2004 ATAC Coordinator National Conference. We found that the majority of these training sessions had only 30 minutes devoted to management or operations of the ATAC, and only a few of the conferences had more than 30 minutes devoted to these issues. When asked for suggested topics for the annual ATAC Coordinator conference, some ATAC Coordinators specifically requested sessions devoted to the management of an ATAC and ATAC best practices. However, the ATAC Coordinators believed that the amount of time ultimately allocated to these matters was inadequate.
Compliance. EOUSA stated that its Evaluation and Review Staff (EARS) can effectively determine whether a USAO complies with the Attorney General's policies for ATACs. Additionally, EOUSA stated that the ATAC program has the flexibility to fit the needs of individual judicial districts because the USAOs, not EOUSA or CTS, manage ATACs. EOUSA stated that our report did not recognize the flexibility in this approach because the report implied that merging an ATAC with the state homeland security task force did not comply with the Attorney General's memorandum establishing the ATAC program.
The OIG's Analysis. We agree that the EARS can be used as a mechanism to assess ATACs' compliance with the Attorney General's guidelines. However, without a determination from the Department on what constitutes "compliance" or ATAC program standards, the EARS cannot sufficiently assess if an ATAC is adequate or is meeting the intent of the program. The Deputy Attorney General has assembled a working group to develop materials and guidance on who has responsibility for oversight, monitoring, evaluation, and enforcing compliance for the ATAC program. The working group expects to develop its guidance by the end of 2005. EOUSA and CTS also agreed in their responses to Recommendation 9 to develop performance measures for the ATAC program.
Funding Analysis. EOUSA disagreed with the report's finding that EOUSA has not recognized, analyzed, or attempted to address funding needs for the ATAC program. EOUSA stated that in fiscal year (FY) 2002, the Department received supplemental funding in the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill of $56,370,000 for increased personnel in the USAOs to address anti-terrorism investigative and prosecutorial needs. This funding provided for 468 attorney and support positions in the USAOs as well as recurring funds for travel and supplies. EOUSA stated that one AUSA position in each USAO was designated an ATAC Coordinator and each district received an Intelligence Research Specialist position. EOUSA further stated that in FY 2002, the Department allocated $100,000 on a one-time basis to each ATAC from funds originally provided to the U.S. Attorneys for increasing the USAOs' capacity to fight terrorism. The Department directed the USAOs to use the $100,000 for communication and intelligence coordination, communication equipment, overtime for ATAC meetings, support services, and counterterrorism training or technical assistance for state and local entities.
EOUSA stated that since FY 2002, the USAOs became fully staffed and the one-time funds provided to state and local entities were required in subsequent years for salaries and expenses of those hired in the USAOs to increase counterterrorism capacity. EOUSA stated that the FY 2005 appropriation included an enhancement for terrorism prevention and EOUSA is exploring options to use that funding to supplement the ATAC program. EOUSA further stated that it will continue to request funds in FYs 2006 and 2007 to support the ATAC program.
The OIG's Analysis. The OIG believes that EOUSA has not strategically or sufficiently analyzed the ATAC budget to assess future funding needs. Our recommendation that EOUSA should conduct more strategic analysis of the ATAC budget to assess the need for future funding specifically was directed at funding used for ATAC operations, including information sharing, communication items, and training for state and local entities, not funding for USAOs to increase their prosecutive capacity. We considered the salaries and expenses for additional personnel devoted to terrorism prosecutions and investigations separate from the one-time allocation of $100,000 to each USAO for improving the communication between the Department and state and local law enforcement entities. For example, during FY 2005, ATAC Coordinators have been unable to attend terrorism-related training and meetings in some locations within their judicial districts due to insufficient travel funds.
To plan adequately for the ATACs' future funding needs or to direct the ATAC program, we believe that EOUSA should analyze the expenditures of each USAO's $100,000 and determine if the expenditures achieved their purpose to improve federal communication with state and local law enforcement. Additionally, EOUSA should solicit information from the ATACs on their funding requirements for improving information sharing, procuring communication equipment, conducting training, and attending terrorism-related meetings. Because the USAOs have competing priorities, strategic analysis of the ATAC program and its budget is critical.
Recommendation 3: Resolved - Open. EOUSA's Office of Legal Education, along with CTS, should develop a national training plan for ATACs that includes:
Summary of EOUSA's Response: EOUSA concurred with the recommendation to develop a national training plan for the ATACs and that EOUSA's Office of Legal Education should have primary responsibility for this development. EOUSA, with CTS, has convened a National ATAC Training Working Group (referred to as the ATAC Training Committee in the CRM response) consisting of representatives from EOUSA and CTS, as well as ATAC Coordinators and Intelligence Research Specialists from several USAOs. The Working Group has held one meeting and will continue to meet and work on a national training plan that may include an initial needs assessment of ATAC Coordinators, guidance on how to manage and structure an ATAC, suggested standards and time frames for completing ATAC Coordinator training, and guidance on appropriate training hours. EOUSA does not believe that minimum mandatory training standards and time frames for completion of training should be established for the ATAC members. EOUSA believes that it is appropriate for each new ATAC Coordinator to receive some type of orientation - in-person training, a Justice Television Network program, or a review of self-study materials from EOUSA. EOUSA suggested that each judicial district be given the flexibility to design its own ATAC training plan to fit the local needs.
The OIG's Analysis: EOUSA's training working group and plan to issue a national ATAC training plan are responsive to the recommendation. The OIG believes that the National ATAC Training Working Group can aid development of a national training plan and will help EOUSA and the USAOs provide the most appropriate training to ATAC Coordinators and ATAC members. The OIG also believes the accelerated orientation for newly appointed ATAC Coordinators can assist implementation of the ATAC program.
The OIG did not recommend that EOUSA establish minimum training standards for ATAC members, but rather for ATAC Coordinators. The training for ATAC members should be determined by individual USAOs through the ATAC training needs assessments and balanced by available resources. The majority of ATAC Coordinators that we interviewed and surveyed indicated satisfaction with prosecutive and investigative training but indicated a need for more training on the operations of an ATAC. The OIG recommended the development of minimum training hours for ATAC Coordinators to ensure these operational issues were covered in training. However, a national training plan that includes an appropriate amount of training on operational issues for ATAC Coordinators, as determined by the ATAC Coordinators themselves, would be responsive to the recommendation. Please provide us a copy of the national ATAC training plan by October 31, 2005.
Recommendation 4: Resolved - Open. The ATAC Coordinators should conduct training needs assessments and develop a training plan for ATAC members.
Summary of EOUSA's Response: EOUSA concurred with the recommendation and through the National ATAC Training Working Group plans to conduct a training needs assessment for ATAC Coordinators. In addition, the working group plans to assist the ATAC Coordinators in conducting needs assessments for the members of their individual ATACs, and assist the ATAC Coordinators in developing training plans for members.
The OIG's Analysis: EOUSA's planned actions to conduct a training needs assessment for ATAC Coordinators and assist ATAC Coordinators with assessing and meeting the training needs of members are responsive to the recommendation. Please provide us a copy of the results of the training needs assessment for ATAC Coordinators by October 31, 2005. Additionally, please provide us a copy of EOUSA's plan for assisting the ATAC Coordinators in developing training needs assessments and training plans for the ATAC members by October 31, 2005.
Recommendation 7: Resolved - Open. The FBI, CTS, EOUSA, and the USAOs should work jointly to develop a coordinated strategy to consistently reach out to remote areas.
Summary of EOUSA's Response: EOUSA concurred with the recommendation and agreed to "work to provide additional guidance and best practices to better reach remote areas through the national training plan for USAOs." However, EOUSA stated that the OIG report underestimates the USAOs' efforts in communicating terrorism and threat information to law enforcement and other agencies in rural areas of their districts. EOUSA outlined the extensive efforts that ATACs in Oklahoma and Alaska have made to share information and provide training to local law enforcement agencies in their districts.
The OIG's Analysis: EOUSA's proposal to improve ATACs' communication with remote areas through the national ATAC training plan is partially responsive to the recommendation. Our recommendation intended that a coordinated outreach strategy among the FBI, CTS, EOUSA, and the USAOs be developed to ensure communication with state and local law enforcement personnel who are not members of an ATAC or another Department terrorism task force. It is unclear how the ATAC national training plan will fulfill the recommendation's intent.
Also, in the report the OIG recognized the efforts of many ATACs to reach out and communicate with remote areas within the judicial districts, and we summarized the innovative efforts of some USAOs. The OIG found that the majority of ATAC members were satisfied with the information sharing and training received, but we found the opposite when we interviewed state and local law enforcement personnel who were not members of the ATAC or another Department counterterrorism task force. These non-members were overwhelmingly dissatisfied with information sharing or training provided by the Department and often had no knowledge of the ATAC or ATAC communication and training efforts in their area. Additionally, the counterterrorism communication and outreach efforts to remote areas often were not coordinated between the USAO and the FBI's JTTF or resident agency office.
While the ATAC in Oklahoma is conducting information sharing and various training sessions, the OIG found gaps in these efforts, especially with respect to remotely located state and local entities that were not members of the ATAC. We have corrected the report on page 91 to reflect that it was the sheriffs, not the police chiefs, who specifically told us they did not have contact with the ATAC in Oklahoma City, did not receive terrorism-related information from the ATAC, and stated they wanted more specific information on potential threats related to Oklahoma, and especially Enid and Woodward, Oklahoma.
The OIG agrees that the ATAC in Alaska was coordinating efforts with the FBI, and had successfully merged with the state homeland security task force to minimize gaps and duplication. The example of Alaska demonstrates the extensive geographic barriers which the ATAC and the FBI must overcome to reach remote areas, an effort that requires coordination of resources.
We request that when CTS, EOUSA, the FBI, and the USAOs develop a coordinated strategy to reach remote areas, they designate one agency to provide us a copy of the coordinated strategy by October 31, 2005. We believe this strategy should define the roles and responsibilities of each entity in implementing the strategy.
Recommendation 9: Resolved - Open. CTS and EOUSA should develop outcome-oriented performance measures for the ATAC program. The measures for the ATAC program could include the following:
Summary of EOUSA's Response: EOUSA concurred that performance measures for the ATAC program would help the ATAC Coordinators ensure consistency and effectiveness in the quality of information sharing and training provided. However, EOUSA stated that performance measures should be developed by and tailored to the needs of each judicial district because it would be ineffective to use one standard measure for all ATACs to evaluate the success of the ATAC program. EOUSA recommended that ATAC performance measures be developed in each district as a part of the individual district's training plan. The National ATAC Training Working Group will provide guidance to the ATAC Coordinators on suggested survey questions, including the factors recommended by the OIG, for use in evaluating the effectiveness of the ATAC program.
The OIG's Analysis: EOUSA's plans for each USAO to develop its individual performance measures and for the National ATAC Training Working Group to develop evaluation questions are partially responsive to the recommendation. The OIG believes that EOUSA and CTS should develop standard performance elements across ATACs to measure the effectiveness of the ATAC program nationwide. While certain elements of the ATAC program should be consistent across USAOs, the particular criteria used to measure each USAO's success on these elements could be different based on the various ATAC activities and how the program is operated in each judicial district. Please provide us the standard ATAC performance elements or measures by October 31, 2005.
Recommendation 11: Resolved - Open. CTS and EOUSA should jointly issue written guidance defining their roles and responsibilities in the ATAC program, as well as the roles and responsibilities of the Regional ATAC Coordinators, the National ATAC Coordinator, and the EOUSA point of contact for ATACs. This written guidance should be communicated to the ATAC Coordinators.
Summary of EOUSA's Response: EOUSA concurred with the recommendation. EOUSA and CTS will work together to develop guidance on the roles and responsibilities of CTS, EOUSA, and the EOUSA point of contact for ATACs. EOUSA plans to provide this guidance to all ATAC Coordinators.
The OIG's Analysis: EOUSA's plan to work with CTS and develop guidance on roles and responsibilities is responsive to the recommendation. The Deputy Attorney General has formed a working group to develop guidance to clarify the roles and responsibilities of CTS, EOUSA, and the USAOs in the ATAC program with regard to oversight, monitoring, evaluating success, and enforcing compliance (see the ODAG's response to Recommendation 10, which the ODAG labeled "2"). Please provide us a copy of the joint EOUSA-CTS written guidance to the ATAC Coordinators by October 31, 2005.
Recommendation 12: Resolved - Open. CTS or EOUSA should issue written guidance for ATAC Coordinators that includes a definition of roles, how to determine membership base, and how to structure and manage an ATAC.
Summary of EOUSA's Response: EOUSA concurred with the recommendation. EOUSA stated that each USAO should have flexibility in defining the role of the ATAC Coordinator and structuring and managing the ATAC to fit the needs of each district. EOUSA developed performance measures for the position of ATAC Coordinator and a copy of these measures will be sent to the U.S. Attorneys and ATAC Coordinators.
The OIG's Analysis: EOUSA's plan for reviewing, revising, and issuing ATAC Coordinator performance standards to the USAOs and ATAC Coordinators is partially responsive to the recommendation. The updated performance standards should tie directly into the standard elements used to measure the overall ATAC program. Further, ATAC Coordinators need additional guidance on determining ATAC membership and structuring and managing an ATAC. EOUSA's response did not address developing this guidance. Please provide us a copy of any revised ATAC Coordinator performance standards by October 31, 2005. Additionally, please provide us a copy of the written guidance to the ATAC Coordinators on membership, structure, and management for ATACs by October 31, 2005.
Recommendation 13: Resolved - Open. EOUSA should strategically analyze the ATAC budget to assess the need for future funding.
Summary of EOUSA's Response: EOUSA concurred with the recommendation and stated that it will continue to strategically analyze the ATAC budget to assess the need for future funding as noted in EOUSA's general comments on the report. In those comments, EOUSA stated that the FY 2005 appropriation included an enhancement for terrorism prevention and EOUSA is exploring options to use that funding to supplement the ATAC program. EOUSA further stated that it will continue to request funds in FYs 2006 and 2007 to support the ATAC program.
The OIG's Analysis: EOUSA's planned actions to potentially use FY 2005 counterterrorism funds to supplement the ATAC program and to request ATAC funding in FYs 2006 and 2007 are partially responsive to the recommendation. To plan adequately for the ATACs' future funding needs or to direct the ATAC program, the OIG believes that EOUSA should analyze the expenditures of each USAO's one-time allocation of $100,000 and whether the expenditures achieved their purposes, and solicit information from the ATACs on their funding requirements for improving information sharing, procuring communication items, conducting training, and attending terrorism-related meetings. Please provide us EOUSA's plan for analyzing future ATAC funding needs by October 31, 2005.
Recommendation 14: Resolved - Open. ATAC Coordinators should regularly update and maintain accurate electronic rosters of the ATAC membership.
Summary of EOUSA's Response: EOUSA concurred with the recommendation and will request an electronic roster of ATAC members from each judicial district. EOUSA also will request that each USAO continue to maintain the roster.
The OIG's Analysis: EOUSA's plan to request updated electronic rosters of ATACs' members and continual maintenance of the rosters is responsive to the recommendation. Please provide us confirmation of EOUSA's receipt of updated electronic rosters from each ATAC by October 31, 2005. Also, please provide us a copy of EOUSA's plan for ensuring that the USAOs maintain updated electronic rosters of ATAC members by October 31, 2005.
Recommendation 15: Resolved - Open. ATACs should meet at least quarterly, and ATAC Coordinators should periodically review and communicate the ATAC mission to members.
Summary of EOUSA's Response: EOUSA concurred that the USAOs should conduct ATAC meetings and periodically review and communicate the ATAC mission to members, but EOUSA did not agree that ATACs should meet at least quarterly. EOUSA stated that each USAO should determine, in its local ATAC training plan, the appropriate number of ATAC meetings as well as the most effective way to conduct the ATAC meetings.
The OIG's Analysis: EOUSA's plan for individual USAOs to determine the frequency of and method for conducting ATAC meetings in their district training plans is responsive to the recommendation. The ATAC Coordinators' individual training needs assessments of members could be used to determine the type and frequency of meetings and training. The intent of the recommendation to meet at least quarterly was to ensure that the USAOs were responsive to the communication requirements of ATAC members, but the suggested frequency was not a firm requirement. Please provide us copies of the portion of each USAO's ATAC training plan that addresses frequency of ATAC meetings by October 31, 2005.
Recommendation 28: Resolved - Open. The ATAC Coordinators should work jointly with the state offices of homeland security and the state homeland security task forces to coordinate activities and to minimize duplication and gaps in terrorism-related information sharing and training.
Summary of EOUSA's Response: EOUSA concurred that the ATAC Coordinators should work jointly with the DHS to coordinate activities and to minimize duplication in information sharing and training. EOUSA stated that ATACs and Intelligence Research Specialists are making efforts to coordinate with the DHS.
The OIG's Analysis: EOUSA's statement that outreach efforts are ongoing with the DHS is partially responsive to the recommendation. The recommendation is directed toward coordination of activities with the states. Please provide us a description of each ATAC's efforts to coordinate activities with the state offices of homeland security by October 31, 2005.