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Semiannual Report to Congress

April 1, 2003–September 30, 2003
Office of the Inspector General


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The BOP operates a nationwide system of prisons and detention facilities to incarcerate and detain inmates who have been imprisoned for federal crimes or who are awaiting trial or sentencing in federal court. The BOP consists of approximately 33,900 employees, 103 institutions, 6 regional offices, 2 staff training centers, and 29 community corrections offices. The BOP is responsible for the custody and care of approximately 171,500 federal offenders, 145,300 of whom are confined in BOP-operated correctional institutions and detention centers. The remainder are confined in detention centers, privately operated prisons, community corrections centers, juvenile facilities, and facilities operated by state or local governments.



The BOP is addressing its expanding population of federal offenders partly by obtaining housing for lower-security inmates through contracting with private contractors who own and operate low-security facilities. Currently, the BOP has seven contracts for low-security private prison space. Our audit focused on the procurement process the BOP used to acquire space from the Corrections Corporation of America (the contractor) facility in California City, California. This low-security facility has a capacity of 2,304 inmates. The BOP contract was for the exclusive use of the facility. The total amount of the contract for a 10-year period was estimated to be $529 million.

Our audit assessed the cost-effectiveness of the procurement, the BOP award process, and the methodology used to identify prison space requirements. We also reviewed the financial condition of the contractor and the BOP's monitoring of the contract and contractor subsequent to award.

We found that the BOP paid $18.9 million for prisoner bed space that was not used during the first nine months of the contract because a procurement provision guaranteed the contractor payment for at least 95 percent of the stated capacity of the facility upon activation. The BOP may recover this amount paid over the life of the contract with the exercise of the contract option years. However, this recovery is predicated on the BOP's future need for this prison space at the current level and the contractor's ability to provide it.

Additionally, we determined that the BOP failed to obtain sufficient current financial information from the contractor and to adequately verify the contractor's ability to obtain the necessary financial resources prior to awarding the contract. As a result, the BOP did not have assurance that the contractor was financially viable at the time the award was made. We also found that the BOP's Acquisitions Branch constrained the final pre-award review of the contract by limiting the review period and by providing incomplete documentation. As a result, the BOP could not perform a detailed review to ensure compliance with established BOP policies or to ascertain the contractor's financial condition at that time. The BOP also failed to document all significant actions and events in the award process and the monitoring of the financial condition of the contractor subsequent to the award.

We made five recommendations for corrective action that included requiring the BOP to determine the benefit of payment guarantees in future procurements for prison bed space, reminding procurement officials of the importance of obtaining sufficient financial information from prospective contractors prior to awarding contracts, ensuring all procurements are adequately reviewed for compliance with acquisition regulations, requiring procurement officials to document adequately all significant actions and decisions, and ensuring monitoring of the financial condition of contractors when significant weaknesses are identified. Although it disputed some of the findings, the BOP agreed with our recommendations and took corrective action necessary to address them.


SENTRY, the BOP's primary mission support database, processes over 1 million transactions each day and tracks more than 171,500 federal inmates. The system collects, maintains, and tracks critical information, including inmate location, medical history, behavior history, and release data. To determine whether SENTRY data are valid, properly authorized, and completely and accurately processed, we assessed the system's application controls.

Using the criteria in the Federal Information System Controls Audit Manual (FISCAM), we reviewed the accuracy and timeliness of SENTRY's input, processing, and output controls and conducted on-site reviews of the operational workflows at 3 of the BOP's 29 community corrections offices (Annapolis Junction, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Chicago, Illinois). These sites were selected because they process large volumes of inmate data into SENTRY.

Our audit identified weaknesses in 4 of the 27 FISCAM control areas that we tested: supervisory reviews, audit logs, access controls, and computer matching of transaction data. Specifically, we identified data input errors resulting in incorrect inmate offense/charge codes, incorrect inmate commitment dates, incorrect dates of offense, and missing offense fines. We also found that the BOP did not adequately monitor audit log exception reports. Our review of SENTRY's access controls disclosed that users with limited access profiles were able to process transactions above their level of access when logged onto terminals designated for users with higher authorization.

We concluded that these weaknesses occurred because BOP management did not fully develop, document, or enforce BOP policies in accordance with current Department policies and procedures. Although we do not consider our findings to be major weaknesses, if not corrected they could impair the BOP's ability to ensure the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of the data in SENTRY.

We recommended that the BOP ensure that (1) its inmate data entry form is updated to reflect current procedures and needs, (2) its SENTRY System Security Guide requires the routine generation and review of exception reports, (3) timely exception reports are provided to the Information Security Officer, and (4) SENTRY's workstation controls are properly configured to allow access only to authorized areas of the system. The BOP agreed with our recommendations.


During this reporting period, the OIG received 2,628 complaints involving the BOP. The most common allegations made against BOP employees included job performance failure, use of unnecessary force, official misconduct, and security failure. The vast majority of complaints dealt with noncriminal issues that the OIG referred to the BOP Office of Internal Affairs.

At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 271 open cases of alleged misconduct against BOP employees. The criminal investigations cover a wide range of allegations, including bribery of a public official, sexual abuse of inmates, and introduction of contraband (e.g., drugs). The following are some of the cases investigated during this reporting period.



The OIG is reviewing the procedures used by the BOP to select Muslim personnel, contractors, and volunteers who provide religious services to inmates. We initiated this review in response to a letter from a U.S. Senator expressing concerns that the BOP relies solely on two organizations that allegedly have connections to terrorism to endorse Muslim cleric candidates as qualified religious leaders. The OIG's review is examining whether the BOP's process effectively screens candidates to ensure that extremist groups do not become religious service providers in the BOP.


The OIG is auditing the BOP's Inmate Release Preparation and Transitional Reentry Programs to evaluate whether the BOP ensures that (1) its programs designed to prepare inmates for reentry into society - including educational, occupational, psychology services, and other programs - provide consistent quality of services among institutions and (2) eligible inmates are provided the opportunity to transition through a Community Corrections Center in preparation for reentry into society.


The OIG prepares a Procedural Reform Recommendation (PRR) recommending corrective action by a Department component when an investigation identifies a systemic weakness in an internal policy, practice, procedure, or program. The following is an example of a PRR sent to the BOP during this reporting period.