The following table summarizes OIG activities discussed in this report. As these statistics and the following highlights illustrate, the OIG continues to conduct wide-ranging oversight of Department programs and operations.
April 1, 2008 – September 30, 2008
| Allegations Received by the
|Audit Reports Issued||98|
|Questioned Costs||$10 million|
|Funds Put to Better Use||$185,383|
|Recommendations for Management Improvements||217|
Examples of OIG audits, evaluations, and special reports completed during this semiannual reporting period include:
The Department’s Removal of Nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006. The OIG and the Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) jointly investigated the Department’s removal of nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006. Our investigation concluded that the process Department officials used to identify the U.S. Attorneys for removal was fundamentally flawed. We found that partisan political considerations played a part in the removal of several of the U.S. Attorneys, and that Department officials made misleading statements to Congress and the public about the reasons for the removals. We recommended that a counsel specially appointed by the Attorney General conduct further investigation and ultimately determine whether the evidence demonstrates that any criminal offense was committed with regard to the removal of any U.S. Attorney or with regard to the testimony of any witness related to the U.S. Attorneys’ removals. In response to the report, Attorney General Mukasey selected a career prosecutor to conduct further investigation into the removals.
Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General. The OIG and OPR jointly investigated allegations of politicized hiring at the Department by Monica Goodling and other staff in the Office of the Attorney General. The joint investigation found that Goodling, former Chief of Staff to the Attorney General Kyle Sampson, and other staff improperly considered political or ideological affiliations in screening candidates for certain career positions at the Department, in violation of federal law and Department policy.
Politicized Hiring in the Department’s Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program. The OIG and OPR jointly investigated allegations of politicized hiring in the Department’s Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program (SLIP) from 2002 to 2006. In 2002, the Attorney General created a Screening Committee, generally comprised of politically appointed employees from the Department’s leadership offices, to approve all Honors Program and SLIP candidates for interviews by the components. We found that the Screening Committees in 2002 and 2006 improperly deselected candidates for interviews based on political and ideological affiliations. We determined that candidates with Democratic Party and liberal affiliations apparent on their applications were deselected at a significantly higher rate than applicants with Republican Party, conservative, or neutral affiliations. This pattern continued when we compared a subset of academically highly qualified candidates. We recommended changes to ensure that political or ideological affiliations are not inappropriately used to evaluate candidates for the Honors Program and SLIP. The Department agreed to implement our recommendations.
The FBI’s Involvement in and Observations of Detainee Interrogations in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The OIG examined the FBI’s involvement in and observations of detainee interrogations in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The OIG report described concerns raised by FBI agents who were involved in the early interrogations of two high-value detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Muhammad Al-Qahtani, as well as other detainees. Some FBI agents raised concerns to Department of Defense (DOD) and FBI officials. However, we found no evidence that these concerns influenced DOD interrogation policies. We also concluded that most FBI agents deployed in the military zones separated themselves from interrogators using non-FBI techniques and continued to adhere to FBI policies. We believe that while the FBI could have provided clearer guidance to its agents earlier, and while the FBI could have pressed harder for resolution of concerns about detainee treatment by other agencies, the FBI should be credited for its conduct and professionalism in detainee interrogations in the military zones in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq and in generally avoiding participation in detainee abuse.
Mishandling of Classified Documents by Attorney General Gonzales. The OIG investigated allegations that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales mishandled classified documents. We found that Gonzales took home notes containing Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance program and stored them for an indeterminate period of time in his briefcase at his residence rather than in a safe. When he returned the notes to the Department, he kept them and other SCI documents in a safe outside his office rather than in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, as required by Department regulations. Several members of his staff who were not cleared to see these documents had regular access to this safe. We concluded that Attorney General Gonzales’s handling of these classified documents violated Department regulations and procedures governing the proper handling of classified material.
ATF’s Controls Over its Weapons, Laptop Computers, and Other Sensitive Property. Our audit found serious weaknesses in ATF’s controls over its weapons and laptop computers. We found that 76 ATF weapons and 418 laptop computers were lost, stolen, or missing during a 5-year period from 2002 through 2007, and more than half of the weapons losses were due to employee carelessness or failure to follow ATF policy. We determined that ATF’s rate for lost, stolen, or missing weapons was nearly double those of the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). We also found that ATF staff did not report many of the lost, stolen, or missing weapons and laptop computers, as required by ATF policies. In addition, ATF was unable to provide assurance that 398 of the 418 lost, stolen, or missing laptop computers did not contain sensitive or personally identifiable information, and few of these laptop computers were protected by encryption software. We made 14 recommendations, and ATF agreed with most of them.
Security Check Procedures for Immigration Applications and Petitions. The OIG examined the FBI’s security check procedures for immigration and naturalization applicants. We found that the FBI’s National Name Check Program relies on outdated and inefficient technology, personnel who have limited training, overburdened supervisors, and inadequate quality assurance measures. As a result, the name check process is backlogged and provides little assurance that necessary information is retrieved and transmitted to customer agencies. We found that while 86 percent of the name check requests are processed within 60 days, name check requests for the remaining 14 percent can take anywhere from several months to over a year to complete, with some name checks pending for as long as 3 years. By contrast, we found that the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System processes millions of fingerprint submissions in an accurate and timely manner because of the fingerprint system’s enhanced technology, well-trained personnel, and efficient tracking mechanisms. The FBI agreed with our recommendations to upgrade the technology of the Name Check Program, implement a formal training curriculum for name check analysts, and reassess fees every 2 years to ensure proper recovery of costs for name checks.
Investigations of Misconduct
As shown in the statistics in the table at the beginning of this section, the OIG investigates many allegations of misconduct involving Department employees or contractors or grantees who receive Department money. Examples of the OIG’s investigations discussed in this semiannual report include:
A joint investigation led to the arrest of an inmate and his brother on charges of money laundering conspiracy. The investigation concerned allegations that two inmates provided staff at a federal corrections complex with financial advice in exchange for favorable treatment, including using the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) e-mail, telephone, and mail systems to carry out their scheme to launder more than $5.7 million in illicit assets. The funds were laundered through a complex scheme using offshore accounts to invest in movies produced through a California-based production company, with profits returned to the inmates’ family. The inmate’s brother has pled guilty, and judicial proceedings continue against the two inmates.
A joint investigation resulted in the arrest of the former president of the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, who obtained an Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant totaling $224,997. The tribal president converted $174,997 of the funds for her own use. The tribal president also converted for her own use approximately $579,412 of a different COPS grant during 2005.
An investigation led to the arrest of an FBI special agent who concealed from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies his improper sexual relationship with the wife of a man he investigated in two separate matters. The special agent used his position to negotiate two favorable plea agreements with the local District Attorney’s Office for the husband and later improperly used an FBI confidential witness in an attempt to locate a homicide suspect to secure a favorable plea agreement for the woman’s son, who was arrested for an armed robbery. The special agent was charged with wire fraud, making a false statement, and witness tampering.
An investigation led to the conviction of a BOP correctional officer who conspired with an inmate’s girlfriend to introduce tobacco and a knife into a correctional facility in exchange for approximately $5,600. The correctional officer was sentenced to 41 months’ incarceration followed by 36 months’ supervised release.
An investigation led to the arrest of a BOP lieutenant who beat an inmate with a flashlight and then falsely reported to the BOP and OIG that the inmate’s injuries were self-inflicted. The lieutenant was charged with deprivation of rights under color of law and falsification of a report in order to obstruct an investigation.
A joint investigation led to the arrest of the chief of police in Troy, Texas, who used approximately $12,000 of a $43,000 equitable sharing grant to purchase a motorcycle and related accessories for his wife, an insurance policy, five cellular telephones, MP-3 players, an embroidery machine, and a family vacation.
This report also describes ongoing OIG reviews of important issues throughout the Department, including:
The Department’s involvement with the Terrorist Surveillance Program
The FBI’s efforts to combat crimes against children
The FBI’s misuse of exigent letters
The Department’s efforts to combat gang violence
Coordination of FBI and ATF explosives investigations
The FBI’s watchlist nomination practices
The Department’s efforts to protect the federal judiciary and federal prosecutors
The Department’s efforts to prevent staff sexual abuse of federal inmates