This Semiannual reporting period marks an important milestone for the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (OIG) – the 20th anniversary of the creation of our office. The OIG began operations on April 14, 1989, with employees transferred from a variety of Department of Justice (Department) components. We have come a long way since that first day, expanding our jurisdiction throughout the Department, establishing seven Investigations Division field offices and seven Regional Audit offices throughout the country, building our Evaluation and Inspections Division, and creating an Oversight and Review Division to conduct special investigations and reviews. From our original workforce of about 300 employees in 1989, we have 35 “charter members” of the OIG who are still with us 20 years later.
During the past two decades, the OIG has made significant contributions to the Department, conducting thousands of audits, inspections, special reviews, and investigations of Department programs and operations. These reviews have examined issues as diverse as grant and procurement fraud, criminal civil rights abuses, counterterrorism and counterintelligence, financial statements, computer security, and allegations of employee misconduct. We have addressed big issues and smaller issues, identifying both Department successes and shortcomings. Our reports provide concrete recommendations for improvement, and we regularly follow up on our findings to determine whether corrective actions have been implemented successfully.
We have also been fortunate over the years to have gained the support of Department leaders and employees for our work. Although they have not always agreed with every report and each recommendation, I believe they have valued our input, reviewed our reports fairly, and ensured that Department components cooperate with the OIG and take our findings seriously.
I want to thank the many OIG employees over the years who have advanced our mission. Former Inspectors General, many OIG supervisors and managers, and hundreds of OIG employees have served with dedication, commitment, and sacrifice, and they should be proud of their achievements. The Department – as well as Congress and the public – have received great value from the work of the OIG, and the many employees who have served in the OIG deserve credit and thanks for their outstanding efforts.
During this semiannual reporting period, from October 1, 2008, through March 31, 2009, the OIG has continued to provide valuable oversight of Department operations. For example, in January 2009 the OIG publicly issued a report detailing its investigation of allegations of politicized hiring in the Civil Rights Division. This was the fourth report in a series of joint investigations with the Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) relating to allegations of politicized hiring in the Department and the removal of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006.
We issued several other significant reports during this reporting period, including a report that found the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) paid excess overtime to employees in Iraq and Afghanistan, a report on the Department’s efforts to implement the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, a review of the FBI’s efforts to combat crimes against children, a review of how personnel resources are allocated among U.S. Attorneys’ Offices (USAO), and a report on the Department’s grant programs aimed at reducing backlogs in DNA samples collected from convicted offenders.
In addition, the OIG moved swiftly upon enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) to provide oversight over these funds provided for Department programs. The Recovery Act includes $4 billion in Department grant funding to enhance state, local, and tribal law enforcement; to combat violence against women; and to fight Internet crimes against children. The OIG is taking proactive steps to help oversee these Recovery Act funds, including providing Department officials and grant administrators with training to improve the grant management process in an effort to prevent fraud or misuse of the funds, commenting on the expedited processes used to award Recovery Act money, and initiating audits relating to these grant programs. We also created a practical guide for the Department regarding best practices for the management of grant funds, entitled “Improving the Grant Management Process.” In addition, the Recovery Act created the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and designated the Department’s Inspector General as one of 10 Inspector Generals who will serve as Board members.
The OIG looks forward to a positive working relationship with the new Attorney General, Department leaders, and the new Congress as we continue our oversight work. In the months and years ahead, the OIG will strive to continue its record of accomplishment.
Glenn A. Fine
April 30, 2009