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Semiannual Report to Congress

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


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The DEA enforces laws and regulations of the United States related to the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances. In addition, the DEA recommends and supports programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on the domestic and international markets. In FY 2003, the DEA had approximately 9,600 employees, almost half of whom were special agents. The DEA has 21 division offices in the United States and the Caribbean and maintains 79 offices in 58 countries throughout the world.



Congress has mandated performance-based management in federal agencies through a series of statutory reforms, the centerpiece of which is GPRA. GPRA seeks to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability of federal programs by establishing a system for agencies to set goals for program performance and to measure results. Under GPRA, agencies must develop strategic plans that identify their long-range strategic goals and objectives, annual performance plans that set forth corresponding annual goals and indicators of performance, and annual performance reports that describe the actual levels of performance achieved compared with the annual goals.

This audit evaluated the DEA's implementation of GPRA. We examined whether the DEA had (1) developed an adequate strategic goal and objectives that were consistent with the Department's strategic goals and objectives; (2) established performance indicators for all decision units included in the DEA's budget requests; and (3) established an effective system of controls to collect, analyze, and report performance data.

Our audit determined that the DEA had failed to meet key aspects of GPRA. We found that the DEA's strategic goal and objectives were not definitive enough to allow for an assessment of whether the goal and objectives were being achieved. In addition, even though the DEA had established performance indicators for all of its budget decision units, it had not established:

As a result of these deficiencies, the ability of the DEA, the Department, Congress, and the public to assess the effectiveness of the DEA's performance is diminished. We recommended, among other things, that the DEA establish (1) a strategic goal and objectives that are quantitative, directly measurable, or assessment-based and (2) specific criteria for determining what constitutes a priority target organization and a disrupted or dismantled priority target organization. The DEA concurred with our recommendations and is updating its strategic plan. The new strategic plan will include, according to the DEA, one general long-term goal and four strategic goals with quantitative, time-specific objectives that will address some of the OIG's recommendations.


During this reporting period, the OIG received 265 complaints involving the DEA. The most common allegations made against DEA employees included misuse of a credit card, job performance failure, and false statements. The OIG investigated many of the most serious allegations and referred others to the DEA OPR.

At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 19 open cases of alleged misconduct against DEA employees. The following is an example of a case investigated during this reporting period.



The DEA uses confidential sources (informants) as an investigative tool in support of criminal investigations and the prosecution of drug cases. The OIG is assessing the DEA's payments to informants, compliance with regulations and controls over disbursements, and the effect that the information provided by informants has had on arrests and prosecution of cases.


The OIG is evaluating the process by which the DEA identifies, refers, and investigates employee misconduct and imposes discipline in response to substantiated allegations of employee misconduct.


The OIG is assessing the policies, procedures, and practices used by DEA offices to control and safeguard the chain of custody for narcotics and cash evidence seized during DEA-controlled investigations or submitted into the DEA's custody as the result of seizures by other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. A review of the DEA's custodial accountability for evidence, initiated by the DEA administrator in 2000, resulted in the approval of recommendations to improve identified weaknesses in the DEA's evidence program. We are examining the DEA's progress in implementing those recommendations.


The OIG is following up on our 1995 audit of the quality of the DEA's forensic laboratory operations. We are determining whether laboratory policies and procedures ensure that forensic examinations meet standards that support timely and appropriate case progress and disposition and whether laboratories properly account for evidence and other controlled substances. We also are evaluating customer satisfaction with laboratory services and whether any cases have been compromised because of any weaknesses in laboratory work.