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U. S. Department of Justice
Office of the Inspector General

Semiannual Report to Congress, October 1, 2000 – March 31, 2001


The Inspections Division assesses Department programs and activities and makes recommendations for improvements in programs, policies, and procedures.

The Inspections Division (Inspections) provides the IG with alternatives to traditional audits and investigations through short-term management assessments and program evaluations that assess the efficiency, vulnerability, and effectiveness of Department operations. Inspections relies on its multidisciplinary workforce to provide timely information to managers on diverse issues. Inspections is located in Washington, DC, and is directed by the AIG for Inspections.

Significant Inspections

Implementation of the Contractor Personnel Security Program in Selected OBDs

Most program offices within the Department use contractor personnel to provide services that previously had been performed by Department employees. In July 1997, the Department amended the Justice Acquisition Regulations to establish a Contractor Personnel Security Program. This action transferred the responsibility for contractor personnel security from JMD’s Security and Emergency Planning Staff (SEPS) to the Department’s OBDs. This change significantly altered the way the Department manages contract employee security. Prior to the change, SEPS approved and monitored contractor personnel security clearances for all the OBDs. As a result of the change, each of the OBDs’ Security Programs Managers (SPMs) is responsible for ensuring that the personnel security requirements are met for each contract.

Our review found that the OBDs were not effectively implementing their contractor personnel security responsibilities and, consequently, allowed access to sensitive Department data and facilities to hundreds of contract employees who did not have the necýssary security clearances. We found that 44 percent of the 628 contract employees we examined did not have the required security clearance and that clearances for other contract employees were insufficient given the sensitivity of their work. In addition, fewer than 25 percent of the FY 1999 and 2000 contracts we reviewed had been certified by the SPM as having the appropriate personnel security requirements.

We concluded that Department security was placed at risk by these deficiencies. Some uncleared or insufficiently cleared contract employees had access to sensitive law enforcement information as well as some of the Department’s most important automated information systems. The OBDs’ failure to ensure that all contract employees received an appropriate security review presented an unacceptable security risk to the Department’s data, facilities, and personnel.

Survey of INS’s Anti-Smuggling Units

The detection, disruption, and dismantling of alien smuggling organizations are enforcement priorities for the INS. The INS’s anti-smuggling strategy involves multiple components – international enforcement, border enforcement, and interior enforcement – and its Anti-Smuggling Units (ASUs) are an integral part of this strategy. Situated in approximately 35 sites throughout the continental Unites States, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, ASUs are located either in Border Patrol sectors or are part of INS district office Investigations divisions.

We examined ASUs to provide INS headquarters managers with a candid field perspective of how to improve their anti-smuggling program. To obtain that information, we surveyed all ASU supervisors and visited five ASUs, assessing issues such as the clarity of ASUs’ mission and the level of coordination between ASUs and other INS entities.

Our survey found that ASUs believed that INS headquarters does not provide sufficient direction regarding the anti-smuggling strategy. Further, the current structure of the INS’s anti-smuggling program can lead to coordination problems and duplication of effort. INS participants in our survey and interviews complained that ASUs do not receive adequate resources to accomplish their mission. We recommended that the INS (1) determine whether a single chain of command for the anti-smuggling program would be more effective and efficient than the current structure in which ASUs are located in both INS district offices and Border Patrol sectors and (2) reevaluate the practice of routing time-sensitive communications from ASUs through the regional offices and, if feasible, eliminate the routing through regional offices altogether. In response to our report, the INS said it plans to evaluate both the command structure of its anti-smuggling program and the procedures governing communications between ASUs and other INS entities.

Review of Travel Charge Card Delinquencies

The Department provides its employees with travel charge cards issued by a contracting bank – currently Bank One – to use for official government travel. The Department expects these employees to pay any charges they incurred while on official travel. While examining issues related to procurement cards, the OIG learned that Department employees often accrue significant travel charge card debts. We subsequently determined that, from November 1998 to December 2000, unpaid debt amounted to $1.2 million.

We found that, with the exception of the INS, the components had adequate practices for monitoring their travel charge card programs. However, our review identified ways the Department could reduce delinquencies and strengthen its travel charge card program. We suggested practices that would help the components further reduce delinquencies and misuse of travel charge cards. These practices included: (1) demonstration of management support for and headquarters oversight of the program; (2) more timely identification by the program coordinators of delinquencies and misuse and referral to cardholder supervisors, management, and internal investigative units for resolution; and (3) disciplinary action for employees who misuse their credit cards or neglect to pay their bills.

The Emergency Witness Assistance Program

The Emergency Witness Assistance Program (EWAP), which began in April 1997, authorizes the USAOs to provide money and services to witnesses and potential witnesses on an emergency basis to ensure their well-being and availability for ongoing civil or criminal cases. We reviewed the EWAP in five USAOs and the EOUSA to determine whether the program is administered effectively and whether it is achieving its purpose.

The OIG found that the EWAP has provided short-term assistance to witnesses and helped them cooperate with federal prosecutors. At the time of our review, 81 of the 93 USAOs had assisted witnesses through the program and, since the beginning of the program, the USAOs had spent $1.7 million to assist 852 witnesses. Based on a review of a sample of EWAP files, the USAOs were generally adhering to program guidelines. However, we found that the USAO for the District of Columbia (USAO-DC) has encountered complicated situations involving witnesses who require financial assistance and social services not covered within EWAP guidelines. We recommended that the EOUSA determine whether to use EWAP funds for these longer-term witness needs or to assist the USAO-DC in identifying other ways to address its unique witness issues.

We also found that the EOUSA’s administration of the EWAP should be strengthened. The EOUSA has not established program goals, performance measures, and associated data collection requirements for the EWAP, nor assessed overall program effectiveness. The EOUSA also did not consistently review the USAOs’ EWAP financial data to identify and resolve discrepancies. Therefore, the EOUSA cannot readily determine whether EWAP is achieving its purpose and whether internal controls are in place for appropriate program and financial management. We recommended that the EOUSA ensure that (1) performance goals, performance measures, and associated data collection requirements are established and implemented; (2) EWAP data collected from the USAOs is timely, accurate, and analyzed in relation to the program’s performance measures; and (3) the USAOs implement procedures for managing EWAP funds according to EOUSA and USAO guidelines. The EOUSA concurred with all of our recommendations.

Ongoing Inspections

During this reporting period, Inspections worked on several important reviews that we anticipate issuing in the next reporting period.

INS Escort of Criminal Aliens

The INS uses commercial airlines to transport some aliens who are deported, including some with histories of violence. The OIG reviewed the INS’s practice of escorting criminal aliens on commercial airlines when aliens are removed from the United States to non-border countries. The review focuses on violent felons or those who have exhibited unruly, disruptive behavior – the most dangerous segment of the criminal alien population and the greatest risk to the traveling public.

International Extradition of Fugitives

The Department’s Office of International Affairs (OIA) within the Criminal Division advises federal and state prosecutors about the procedures for requesting extradition from abroad and handling foreign extradition requests for fugitives found in the United States. This inspection is evaluating how OIA manages the extradition process. Inspectors are examining the methods OIA uses to manage the caseload, to track extradition requests through the process, and to facilitate communication among the USAOs, USMS, state and local prosecutors, and foreign governments.

Treatment of Unaccompanied Juveniles Held in INS Custody

The INS has about 400 unaccompanied juveniles in custody at any one time and approximately 4,300 unaccompanied juveniles in custody throughout a year. INS regulations require that detained juveniles be given certain protections, such as being placed in the least restrictive setting, being given notice of rights in their native language, and being provided contact with family members. This inspection will assess how the INS complies with regulatory requirements designed to ensure appropriate treatment of juveniles in its custody.

Disciplinary Actions of the USMS

Inspectors are reviewing the employee disciplinary process in the USMS to evaluate the timeliness and consistency of disciplinary actions concerning substantiated misconduct allegations involving USMS employees.

Review of INS Travel Charge Card Delinquencie

While reviewing Department travel charge card delinquencies that occurred over a 2-year period, the OIG found that INS employees owed nearly $825,000, or 69 percent, of the $1.2 million debt. The OIG’s forthcoming report will identify ways for INS to improve its monitoring of the travel card program and reduce delinquencies.

Follow-Up Activities

Unresolved Inspections

DOJ Order 2900.10, Follow-up and Resolution Policy for Inspection Recommendations by the OIG, requires inspection reports to be resolved within six months of the report issuance date. As of March 31, there are no unresolved inspection reports.

Inspections Statistics

The chart below summarizes Inspections’ accomplishments for the 6-month reporting period ending March 31, 2001.