Semiannual Report to Congress

April 1, 2005-September 30, 2005
Office of the Inspector General

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 work with 94 U.S. Marshals, each appointed by the President or the Attorney General, to direct the work of approximately 4,800 employees at more than 350 locations throughout the 50 states, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.

Reports Issued

The USMS's Apprehension of Violent Fugitives

The USMS is the federal government's primary agency for apprehending fugitives. In July 2005, the OIG's Evaluation and Inspections Division issued a report on the USMS's efforts to apprehend violent fugitives. Our evaluation found that the USMS had increased its apprehension of violent fugitives by 51 percent from FY 2001 through FY 2004 and raised the number of apprehended individuals per staff year from 18 in FY 2002 to 21 in FY 2004. However, the increase in violent federal fugitives at large outpaced the USMS's progress, rising 3 percent from FY 2001 through FY 2004. At the close of FY 2004, 14,419 violent fugitives still were at large.

The OIG found two key reasons for the USMS's improved performance and efficiency. First, the USMS increased by 21 percent the amount of time that deputy marshals and other personnel were devoted to fugitive investigations, from 911 staff years in FY 2002 to 1,104 staff years in FY 2004. Second, the USMS established Regional Fugitive Task Forces (RTF) that enable federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel to work together across jurisdictional lines and share expertise and resources to apprehend the most dangerous fugitives. Presently, five RTFs are operating across federal districts in nine states and the District of Columbia.

In our report, the OIG recommended that the USMS move forward with a plan to establish 6 more RTFs that would operate in 19 states and 3 territories and take steps to implement on a wider basis the practices of the most successful RTFs. We also recommended establishing measures and goals to track performance in apprehending violent fugitives and improving data collection and analysis to accurately determine caseload and necessary resources. The USMS concurred with all the recommendations, has requested appropriations for the creation of additional RTFs, and is employing its Chiefs' Investigative Advisory Committee to develop performance standards and measure progress in reducing the number of violent fugitives at large.

The USMS's Use of Independent Contractors as Guards

The USMS relies on independent contractors hired as guards to assist USMS deputy marshals in day-to-day operations throughout its 94 districts. The USMS hires more than 2,700 independent contract guards annually and uses them primarily to transport federal prisoners to and from court facilities and guard federal prisoners in courtrooms or cellblocks. Each guard hired as an independent contractor requires a separate contract. Procurement of these independent contractors is an entirely decentralized function in which contracting officers in USMS districts contract with individuals for the necessary guard services. Independent contractors constitute a core part of the USMS's workforce in many districts, sometimes accounting for more than 50 percent of the total hours charged to prisoner handling activities.

The OIG's Audit Division audited the USMS's internal controls over the procurement of independent contractors for guard service. Our audit also assessed whether the USMS was adequately monitoring the performance of its independent contract guards, examined whether independent contractors were meeting the USMS's experience and fitness-for-duty requirements, evaluated the initial training provided to contract personnel, and determined whether independent contractors were performing only authorized duties.

We found that the USMS districts' procurement practices were in violation of USMS policy and the Federal Acquisition Regulation with regard to procurement of independent contractors. We also discovered a lack of controls over the procurement process for independent contractors that have created an environment conducive to inconsistencies and inefficiencies. We identified internal control weaknesses in the hiring and monitoring of independent contractors that allowed for the hiring of unqualified individuals for guard service. In addition, we found that armed contract guards did not always receive firearms training on a timely basis, and we could not verify whether the majority of independent contractors tested had been medically certified or received background investigations because of the lack of documentation in USMS files.

The OIG recommended that the USMS: 1) ensure the use of formal procurement procedures in the districts, 2) revise fitness-for-duty requirements, 3) maintain complete contract files, 4) institute a formal evaluation process, 5) track and document contractor training, 6) ensure firearms qualifications, and 7) consider alternative methods for obtaining guard services. The USMS concurred with all the recommendations and has begun instituting corrective actions.

The USMS's Cooperative Agreement Program

The USMS is responsible for the custody and transportation of detainees awaiting trial in federal courts. Most of the 49,000 USMS detainees in custody daily are held in state, local, private, and federal jail facilities using: 1) Cooperative Agreement Program (CAP) agreements with state and local jails where capital investment funding is provided in exchange for guaranteed bed space; 2) Intergovernmental Service Agreements (IGAs) with state and local jails, where a daily rate is paid to the jails to house detainees; 3) private jail facilities, where a daily rate is paid to house detainees; and 4) federal detention facilities.

In locations where detention space is scarce, the USMS negotiates with state and local governments to provide an agreed-upon amount of CAP funds to improve local jail facilities or expand jail capacities. In return, the state and local governments guarantee the USMS an agreed-upon number of bed spaces for a specified number of years. Use of the bed space also requires an IGA between the USMS and the facility. Since 1982, the USMS has awarded about $285 million to counties and municipalities under CAP agreements, resulting in more than 13,600 guaranteed spaces for federal detainees. In recent years Congress has steadily reduced the appropriation for the CAP program and eliminated funding for the program altogether for FY 2005.

Our audit focused on whether the USMS has developed adequate plans, in the absence of CAP funding, to secure jail space in cities where CAP agreements will expire during the next three fiscal years and where jail space is scarce but no CAP agreements exist. We found that the USMS has not determined whether jails with expiring CAP agreements will continue to house USMS detainees at a reasonable cost after the CAP agreements expire. To address these issues, we recommended that the USMS develop specific plans for securing detention space in the event that CAP funding is not restored in future appropriations.


In our March 2005 Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported on a case in which two newspaper reporters followed a U.S. marshal for 10 days during a 17-day period in September and October 2004 and found that the U.S. marshal rarely worked a full day and used his assigned government-owned vehicle for personal errands on one occasion. The reporters published an article on their findings, which prompted the OIG to examine the U.S. marshal's work-related activities for a 4-week period that included the 17 days during which the reporters conducted surveillance. We concluded that the U.S. marshal failed to satisfy the basic 40-hour workweek requirement of his position and misused a government vehicle. We completed our investigation in March 2005 and provided a copy of our report to the USMS and the Deputy Attorney General's Office. In August 2005, the U.S. marshal was terminated from his position.

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