Semiannual Report to Congress

October 1, 2005-March 31, 2006
Office of the Inspector General

Other Department Components

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

COPS was created as a result of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to advance community policing in jurisdictions of all sizes across the country. COPS provides grants to tribal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to hire and train community policing professionals, acquire and deploy crime-fighting technologies, and develop and test innovative policing strategies.

Reports Issued

COPS Methamphetamine Initiative

The OIG’s Audit Division examined COPS’ administration of the Department’s grant program to stem the production, distribution, and use of methamphetamine. Over the past 8 years, Congress has appropriated more than $200 million for grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to combat methamphetamine. The OIG review found significant deficiencies in COPS’ administration of the methamphetamine grant program, in its monitoring of grantee activities, and in the way individual grantees administered their grants.

Between FYs 1998 and 2005, Congress appropriated $385.6 million for the Methamphetamine Initiative. Of this total, COPS transferred almost $125 million to the DEA for the removal and disposal of hazardous materials from clandestine methamphetamine laboratories, reimbursed OJP $46.6 million for several Methamphetamine Initiative grants it administered on behalf of COPS, and distributed the balance of $214 million to state and local entities through the grant process. More than 84 percent ($179 million) of the state and local grant funds distributed by COPS were earmarks under which Congress designated that a specific project or entity should receive the funds.

The OIG audit found weaknesses in COPS’ management and administrative controls related to the Methamphetamine Initiative. Specifically, we identified a lack of coordination between COPS officials, weaknesses in the database that COPS uses to manage and track grants, and insufficient and inconsistent monitoring of grantees. For example, since FY 1998 only 15 of the 179 Methamphetamine Initiative grantees have received an on-site visit by COPS.

Since FY 2002, the congressional earmarks have included an instruction for COPS to scrutinize the proposed projects, consult with the DEA, and award the funds if warranted. However, we found that COPS has not consulted with the DEA about potential grants before awarding the earmarked funds. Furthermore, while some states with high numbers of reported methamphetamine incidents received significant funds through the Methamphetamine Initiative, other states with similar levels of reported methamphetamine incidents received lower levels of funding.

In addition to examining the overall administration of the methamphetamine grant program, OIG audits of 44 individual state and local grants – totaling more than $56 million awarded to 13 grantees – identified $9.5 million in questioned costs and numerous accounting and internal control weaknesses. Our report contained 17 recommendations that focus on specific steps COPS should take to improve the management and administration of the Methamphetamine Initiative, including implementing procedures for the administration and oversight of entities receiving funding as well as evaluating the effectiveness of the grant program as a whole.

COPS Methamphetamine Grants to State and Local Entities

The OIG completed several audits of methamphetamine grants awarded by COPS. Examples of findings from these audits issued during this reporting period included the following:

  • The Pierce County Alliance in Washington State was awarded 3 COPS grants totaling nearly $9 million to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in reducing the production, distribution, and use of methamphetamine. We determined that the Alliance had not followed grant requirements concerning the hiring and billing of sheriffs’ deputies. We also found that the Alliance could not provide documentation disputing the notion that grant funds were used to supplant local budgets. In addition, the Alliance could not provide adequate supporting documentation for non-personnel expenditures that were charged to the grants. As a result, we reported total questioned costs of $2.4 million and recommended that COPS remedy these questioned costs. COPS concurred with our recommendation.

  • The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (MBN) in Jackson, Mississippi, was awarded 4 grants totaling over $2.6 million for the COPS Methamphetamine Initiative. We found that MBN’s accounting systems and procedures did not accurately account for grant funds disbursed, which made it impossible to reconcile grant drawdowns with accounting system reports or other accounting records. Therefore, we questioned as unsupported the total amount of nearly $2 million drawn down by MBN. We also determined that MBN had not expended $98,127 of the funds awarded for closed grants, which should be deobligated and put to better use. In addition, we identified deficiencies in the areas of budget management and control, grant expenditures, and reporting. We recommended that COPS remedy questioned costs; deobligate unneeded grant funds; and ensure that grant reporting requirements are met, disbursements of grant funds are properly accounted, and property is accurately recorded. COPS concurred with all of our recommendations.

  • COPS awarded 4 grants totaling nearly $2.4 million to the Vermont State Police (VSP) under the Methamphetamine Initiative. The grants were used to fund personnel, supplies, and other expenses intended to reduce the production, distribution, use, and associated crime of heroin and methamphetamine. Funds also were used to train police officers and provide community education outreach on the methamphetamine problem. We questioned costs of just over $1.2 million, or nearly 50 percent of the total funding, for all 4 grants after determining that VSP was reimbursed nearly $1.2 million for law enforcement salary and fringe benefit expenditures prohibited by the guidelines covering these grants. We also found that unallowable costs were included in VSP grant budgets approved by COPS. Further, VSP charged the grants $27,174 for personnel, supplies, and administrative expenses that were unallowable because COPS had not approved the expenditures. Because VSP did not collect relevant data and develop performance measures, it was unable to determine the overall effect the grants were having on reducing heroin and methamphetamine use and related crime throughout the state. We made 8 recommendations to remedy questioned costs of nearly $1.2 million in unallowable expenditures and supplanted local funds, implement a performance measurement process to assess accomplishments, and strengthen budget procedures. COPS concurred with all of our recommendations.

U.S. Attorneys' Offices

U.S. Attorneys serve as the federal government's principal criminal and civil litigators and conduct most of the trial work in which the United States is a party. Under the direction of the Attorney General, 93 U.S. Attorneys are stationed throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. More than 11,700 employees work in those offices and in the EOUSA.

Reports Issued

USAO Intelligence Research Specialists

USAO intelligence research specialists coordinate antiterrorism activities, analyze the relevance and reliability of threat information and investigative leads, and seek to ensure that cases with terrorism connections are identified for prosecution. Each USAO was allocated at least one intelligence research specialist after the September 11, 2001, terrorism attacks.

The OIG’s Evaluation and Inspections Division reviewed the role and functions of USAO intelligence research specialists and found that individually the specialists made valuable contributions to the USAOs’ antiterrorism efforts. However, their overall effectiveness could be increased through improved coordination and guidance at the regional and Departmental levels. For example, the specialists’ efforts to collect intelligence information related to antiterrorism cases and the work products they produced differed markedly from USAO to USAO, making it more difficult for users to identify and act on the intelligence the products conveyed. In addition, the specialists relied on policy guidance that was outdated and disorganized. Further, analytical products developed by the specialists were not consistently reviewed or widely disseminated within the Department.

The OIG made eight recommendations to the EOUSA to improve the USAOs’ use of intelligence research specialists, including: 1) identify and provide the standard tools specialists need, define the types of work products specialists should produce, and establish quality standards for those products; 2) provide specialists with current and complete policy guidance; 3) survey users of specialists’ work to ascertain its applicability and quality and identify areas for improvement; and 4) reassess the specialists’ role and duties in light of the pending reorganization of the Department’s intelligence activities.

The EOUSA concurred with all of our recommendations.


The following is an example of a case involving the USAO that the OIG’s Investigations Division investigated during this reporting period:

  • An investigation by the OIG’s Los Angeles Field Office led to the arrest and guilty plea to charges of wire fraud of a civilian assigned to the Xerox contract with the USAO for the Central District of California. The OIG investigation revealed that the Xerox employee ordered toner and other printing supplies under the guise of the Department’s fixed price contract, then stole approximately $730,000 in the merchandise from the U.S. Courthouse for the Central District of California in a 10-month period and sold the merchandise for his own profit. The Xerox employee was sentenced to 6 months’ home confinement and 5 years’ supervised release, and ordered to pay $40,000 in restitution.

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