|The DEA enforces federal laws and regulations related to the growth, production, or distribution of controlled substances. In addition, the DEA seeks to reduce the supply of and demand for illicit drugs, both domestically and internationally. The DEA has approximately 10,800 employees staffing its 23 division offices in the United States and the Caribbean and 86 offices in 62 other countries.|
The OIG’s Audit Division examined whether the DEA has addressed weaknesses in its control over its weapons and laptop computers, including purchasing, disposing, transferring custodianship, identifying laptop contents, and conducting physical inventories. These weaknesses were reported in a 2002 OIG audit.
The follow-up review, which examined activity from January 2002 through June 2007, found that the DEA’s rate of loss for weapons has increased since our 2002 review, while the DEA’s rate of loss for laptop computers during the same period has declined. From January 2002 through June 2007, 91 DEA weapons and 231 laptop computers were lost or stolen, compared with 16 weapons and 229 laptop computers lost or stolen during the 26-month period covered in our 2002 audit.
Our review also found that the DEA could not determine what information was on its lost or stolen laptop computers, and it was unable to provide assurance that 226 of the 231 lost or stolen laptop computers did not contain sensitive or personally identifiable information. Moreover, few of the laptops lost or stolen during our review period were protected by encryption software because the DEA did not begin installing such software on its laptops until November 2006.
We determined that the DEA has made improvements to its internal controls over weapons and laptop computers since our 2002 audit, such as conducting physical inventories and reconciling these inventories to its financial system records. However, the DEA still requires significant improvement in its overall controls on weapons and laptops. For example, DEA employees were not internally reporting lost or stolen weapons and laptops in a timely manner. Further, the DEA was not informing the Department of weapon and laptop losses, and the DEA was not ensuring that relevant information about lost weapons and laptops was entered in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, thereby hindering the chances of recovering the lost property.
The OIG report made seven recommendations, including that the DEA ensure that its employees accurately and promptly report weapon and laptop losses to DEA headquarters and other appropriate components, require encryption software on all laptop computers, ensure the accurate and timely entry of weapon and laptop losses in the NCIC database, and require that the investigation of lost laptops include a determination of the laptop’s contents. The DEA agreed with all of the recommendations except the recommendation to require encryption software on all laptop computers.
The OIG’s Evaluation and Inspections Division reviewed whether the DEA used Diversion Control Fee Account (Fee Account) funds for activities that were unrelated to the diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals. Controlled pharmaceuticals, such as narcotics, stimulants, and depressants, can be diverted from legitimate channels through theft or fraud during the manufacturing and distribution process. They also can be diverted by medical staff, pharmacy staff, and individuals involved in selling or using pharmaceuticals. The DEA is required by statute to fund its efforts to investigate the diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals through registration fees that manufacturers, distributors, physicians, and others pay into the Fee Account.
The OIG review examined allegations that the DEA may have used funds from the Fee Account to pay for non-diversion activities. Our review did not substantiate the allegations that the DEA misused funds from the account during the period reviewed, FY 2004 through FY 2007.
However, our review concluded that the DEA did not fully fund all of its diversion control salary costs that were directly related to Diversion Control Program activities with the Fee Account, as required by law. For example, in FYs 2006 and 2007 the DEA paid approximately $15.4 million in salary costs of special agents and chemists working on criminal diversion investigations with appropriated funds rather than with funds from the Fee Account.
The OIG recommended that the DEA determine both the actual and planned costs attributable to diversion control activities, especially those for special agents, intelligence analysts, and chemists, and include these costs in the Diversion Control Program’s future budgets. The OIG also recommended that the DEA provide more information to its personnel on the requirements that govern the use of Fee Account funds. The DEA concurred with both recommendations.
The OIG is examining the DEA’s efforts to recruit, train, and retain its intelligence analysts and reports officers.