Semiannual Report to Congress

October 1, 2010 – March 31, 2011
Office of the Inspector General

U.S. Marshals Service

Photo of U.S. MarshalThe USMS is responsible for ensuring the safe and secure conduct of judicial proceedings; protecting more than 2,000 federal judges and approximately 5,250 other court officials at more than 400 court facilities while providing security systems at nearly 900 facilities; arresting federal, state, and local fugitives; protecting federal witnesses; transporting federal prisoners; managing assets seized from criminal enterprises; and responding to major national events, terrorism, and significant high-threat trials. The USMS Director and Deputy Director work with 94 U.S. Marshals to direct approximately 4,900 employees at 315 locations throughout the 50 states, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.

Reports Issued

Oversight of the Judicial Facilities Security Program

The OIG’s Audit Division examined the USMS’s oversight of its Judicial Facilities Security Program. This program provides over 5,000 court security officers (CSO) and security systems and equipment at more than 400 U.S. federal court facilities in 12 federal judicial circuits. CSOs use security screening systems for detecting and intercepting weapons and other prohibited items from individuals attempting to bring them into federal court facilities. Both CSOs and the security systems are procured through contracts with private security firms. In FY 2009, the federal judiciary allotted approximately $370 million for the USMS’s court security services.

This OIG audit assessed the USMS’s efforts to provide security at federal court facilities and the USMS’s oversight of the CSO program, security systems, and related contracts. Overall, our audit identified weaknesses in the USMS’s efforts to secure federal court facilities and its management of the CSO program. In addition, the audit found deficiencies in the USMS’s oversight of the CSO program and security systems contracts. 

For example, our audit found that not all CSOs have been fully trained on the use of security screening equipment. Additionally, three of the six USMS district offices we visited during the audit failed to conduct required quarterly testing of security procedures to screen visitors, packages, and mail delivered to the courthouses. In addition, in February 2009 several USMS district offices failed to detect mock explosive devices sent by USMS headquarters to the district offices for local testing purposes. We also found instances where security features of new equipment were not being used, partly because no one had received training on the features.

Three of the six judges we interviewed expressed concerns related to the USMS court security program in their respective districts. One Chief Judge was generally dissatisfied with the physical security of the building and expressed concerns over whether adequate security was being provided at entry checkpoints, including the public building entrance, parking garage, and judge’s entrance. In another district, the Chief Judge said that funding and manpower limitations have negatively affected the quality and level of court security provided by the USMS. In a third district, the Chief Judge and his assistant believed that inspections of trucks entering the courthouse are poorly conducted, which jeopardized the safety of the facility.

The USMS maintains data on arrests and other incidents, such as attempts to bring illegal weapons or contraband into court facilities, bomb threats, and assaults. The following chart provides a breakdown of incidents and arrests that were reported by USMS districts in FYs 2009 and 2010.

Incidents and Arrests at U.S. Court Facilities
FY’s 2009 and 20101
Violation FY 2009 FY 2010
Count Percentage of
Count Percentage of
Total 2
“Other” Incidents 2,585 79.0 3,578 91.1
Medical Emergency 301 9.2 167 4.3
Disruptive Person 201 6.1 98 2.5
Illegal Weapon 98 3.0 23 0.6
Contraband 42 1.3 41 1.0
Arrests 22 0.7 2 0.1
Bomb Threat 7 0.2 6 0.2
Forced Entry 7 0.2 3 0.1
Assault 6 0.2 8 0.2
Shooting 3 0.1 0 0.0
TOTALS 3,272 100% 3,926 100%
Source:  USMS

Our audit found inconsistent reporting by USMS district offices on incidents and arrests at federal court facilities, and little analysis was conducted by USMS headquarters on the data it received from the district offices. We reported that a thorough analysis of this data could allow for better planning in the deployment of screening equipment, building design, and staffing. Such an analysis also could be valuable to the federal judiciary and ensure that the judiciary is better aware of potential security threats. 

The audit also found that the USMS awarded a contract worth about $300 million to a CSO contractor with a history of fraudulent activities, despite an earlier fraud alert issued by the OIG’s Investigations Division. The fraud alert informed the USMS that there had been multiple fraud convictions and civil judgments against the contractor’s chief financial officer, including criminal convictions for mail fraud, submitting false insurance claims, and bank fraud, as well as six fraud-related civil judgments totaling more than $1.4 million. Nevertheless, the USMS awarded the contract to this contractor. After receiving the USMS contract, the contractor ultimately filed for bankruptcy, leaving many CSOs temporarily without compensation for their services. 

We also found that the USMS failed to conduct timely background investigations for newly hired CSOs or effectively analyze CSO performance violations. During our review of a sample of 60 CSO personnel files, we found that 63 percent of these files contained out-of-date medical examination records, 18 percent lacked required firearms qualification records, and 47 percent contained outdated firearms qualifications.

The audit report provides 15 recommendations to the USMS to help improve its Judicial Facilities Security Program, including recommendations that the USMS ensure that quarterly unannounced tests of screening checkpoints are performed as required, and that all CSOs and judicial security inspectors are appropriately trained before entering on duty. The USMS concurred with all 15 recommendations and discussed the actions it would take to implement them.


During this reporting period, the OIG received 226 complaints involving the USMS. The most common allegations made against USMS employees included official misconduct; waste and mismanagement; off-duty violations; and force, abuse, and rights violations. The majority of the complaints were considered management issues and were provided to the USMS for its review and appropriate action.

During this reporting period, the OIG opened eight investigations and referred four allegations to the USMS’s Office of Internal Affairs for action or investigation. At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 26 open cases of alleged misconduct against USMS employees.

USMS cases opened by offense category for October 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011: fraud-3; official misconduct-2; theft-1; waste, mismanagement-2.
Source:  Investigations Data Management System

The following are examples of cases involving the USMS that the OIG’s Investigations Division handled during this reporting period:

Ongoing Work

Administration of Seized and Forfeited Complex Assets

The USMS’s Complex Assets Unit administers complex financial assets seized by the Department that involve special business or financial issues, which may include large companies, rental properties, and stock and bond portfolios. This OIG audit is assessing the USMS’s oversight of seized and forfeited complex assets.

Contract Management

The OIG is reviewing the USMS’s policies and practices for awarding and administering contracts. The OIG seeks to determine whether the USMS complies with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Department policies, and internal USMS policies in its award and administration of contracts; whether USMS internal controls ensure adequate contract oversight; and whether the USMS properly manages vendors to ensure contract requirements are met and contractor billings are accurate and complete.

  1. Data reported for FY 2010 was reported through August 26, 2010.

  2. Total percentages may not equal 100 percent due to rounding.


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