Semiannual Report to Congress

April 1, 2004–September 30, 2004
Office of the Inspector General

The U.S. Marshals Service

USMS logo

The USMS protects more than 2,000 federal judges and other members of the federal judiciary, transports federal prisoners, protects endangered federal witnesses, manages assets seized from criminal enterprises, and pursues and arrests federal fugitives. The Director and Deputy Director of the USMS work with 94 U.S. Marshals, each appointed by the President or the Attorney General, to direct the work of approximately 4,400 employees at more than 350 locations throughout the 50 states, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Reports Issued

Audit of the USMS's Prisoner Tracking System

The USMS uses a Prisoner Tracking System (PTS) to maintain tracking information for federal prisoners in USMS custody and as an informational and scheduling tool to assist USMS personnel in locating prisoners for court appearances. The PTS contains information specific to each individual prisoner, including the prisoner's personal data, property, medical information, criminal information, and location.

The objectives of this OIG audit were to assess the security of the PTS system. We examined the effectiveness of general controls for the PTS at the entity-wide level, reviewed the PTS's application controls, and performed data integrity testing. Our review identified weaknesses in these areas. We considered our findings in these areas to be major weaknesses and concluded that the state of the PTS's existing controls posed a high risk to the protection of its data from unauthorized use, loss, or modification. We concluded that these weaknesses occurred because the USMS did not fully comply with current Department security policies and procedures, National Institute of Standards and Technology standards, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidelines, or its own procedures for prisoner processing and cellblock operations. If not corrected, these security vulnerabilities could impair the USMS's ability to fully ensure the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of data within the PTS.

This report contains 20 recommendations for improving select general controls, application controls, and the integrity of data for the PTS. The USMS concurred with many of the recommendations and agreed to implement corrective action.


During this reporting period, the OIG received 213 complaints involving the USMS. The most common allegations made against USMS employees included job performance failure, use of unnecessary force, official misconduct, and security failure. The OIG opened 12 investigations and referred 6 other allegations to the USMS Office of Internal Affairs for investigation.

At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 21 open cases of alleged misconduct against USMS employees. The following is an example of a case involving the USMS that the OIG investigated:

Procedural Reform Recommendation

The following is an example of a PRR sent to the USMS during this reporting period:

The OIG's PRR concerned the USMS's policy on the transport of male and female inmates in the same vehicle. The PRR was based on an investigation conducted by the OIG's New York Field Office into allegations that a male inmate sexually assaulted a female inmate on a USMS bus during transport from the USMS for the Southern District of New York to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York. Our investigation sustained the abusive sexual contact allegation.

Our investigation also disclosed numerous inadequacies involving record keeping, equipment, and regulations concerning prisoner transport within the USMS's Southern District of New York. The USMS's policy states that male and female inmates should not be transported together unless the vehicle is equipped with a separate compartment. However, this policy allows discretion on the part of supervisors to authorize the transport on vehicles that lack such separation equipment.

We believe that the lack of appropriately equipped vehicles - only 5 of the 21 USMS transport buses operating nationwide have separate compartments and none of the transport vans are so equipped - as well as the USMS's discretionary policy with respect to transport of male and female inmates in the same vehicle, contributed to the incident we investigated and provides the opportunity for similar and more egregious incidents to occur. Therefore, our PRR recommended that the USMS revise its policy to mandate that male and female or juvenile inmates are transported in separate vehicles or, if together, in vehicles properly equipped for separation. We also recommend that sufficient vehicles should be equipped or provided to comply with the revised policy.

Ongoing Work

Administration of the Witness Security Program

WITSEC provides for the security, health, and safety of government witnesses whose lives are in danger as a result of their testimony against drug traffickers, terrorists, organized crime members, and other major criminals. Since the inception of WITSEC in 1970, the USMS has protected, relocated, and provided new identities to more than 7,500 witnesses and more than 9,600 family members or other authorized associates. The OIG is reviewing the USMS's administration of WITSEC.

The USMS's Fugitive Apprehension Program

The OIG is examining the effectiveness of the USMS's Fugitive Apprehension Program in apprehending violent fugitives. This review will assess the ability of the USMS, particularly of the five Regional Fugitive Task Forces that it operates, to carry out its mission by locating and apprehending the most dangerous fugitives.

Background Investigations of USMS Employees and Contractors

The OIG is reviewing background investigations for USMS employees and contractors. We are also assessing whether the background investigations and adjudications managed by the USMS's Judicial Security Division for contract court security officers and by the Department's Security and Emergency Planning Staff for political appointees, attorneys, and other designated positions are generally timely and thorough.

The USMS's Personal Services Contract Guards

The USMS employs individuals on personal contracts to guard prisoners appearing as a witness or for a court hearing and to transport prisoners who are in need of medical treatment. Individual contract guards are often off-duty or former law enforcement officers (LEOs). The OIG is reviewing the USMS's risk assessments and internal controls associated with the procurement and reimbursement of personal contract guards. We also are determining whether the performance of individual contract guards is adequately monitored, contractors are meeting experience and fitness-for-duty requirements, adequate training is provided to contract personnel, and contract guards are performing only authorized duties.