U. S. Department of Justice

Office of the Inspector General

October 30, 1998

Honorable Janet Reno
Attorney General
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Madam Attorney General:

This semiannual report summarizes the work of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) during the six-month period ending September 30, 1998. This report reflects the OIG’s most significant accomplishments by our Audit, Inspections, and Investigations Divisions, and our Special Investigations and Review Unit, with critical support from the OIG’s Office of General Counsel and Management & Planning Division.

Although the primary purpose of our semiannual reports is to focus attention on specific accomplishments completed during the reporting period, the preparation of the semiannual report also helps us to consider the relationship among work we have recently completed, work now in progress, and work contemplated for the future. One of the areas to which we have devoted increased attention recently is that of follow-up work. We recognize that our work is most effective when we take steps to ensure that problems we have noted and recommendations we have developed have in fact been substantively addressed. The normal process of resolving audits and inspections does not provide assurance that this has occurred because it is a paper-driven process that does not generally involve further inquiry and fieldwork. Without such further work, we cannot be certain that the underlying problem and deficiencies have been adequately addressed. As a result, and because we recognize that such work is a concern of yours, we have given higher priority to doing substantive follow-up work with respect to audits, inspections, and the systemic recommendations that flow from our special investigations.

In June 1998, we conducted a follow-up review of the progress made by the FBI Laboratory in implementing the recommendations contained in our April 1997 special investigative report. The follow-up report was the culmination of a 14-month process in which we reviewed monthly reports from the FBI documenting its progress and which concluded with an intensive review involving most of the original investigative team. As a result of this process, we noted substantial progress in most respects but also lingering problems in some areas. We were gratified at the Laboratory Director’s constructive approach to the deficiencies we identified, an approach that led to the Laboratory’s receiving its first-ever accreditation several months later.

We believe the oversight we provided on this matter served an important function, and we fully understand the value of extending this approach to other areas. As you know, the principal limitation we face in conducting more of these follow-up reviews is resources. Every follow-up review that we conduct means we must forego doing fresh work relating to programs and operations of the Department that we think warrant scrutiny. In a static or shrinking Department, the latitude to conduct more such follow-up reviews would be greater. But because of the rapid growth of the Department in recent years – particularly in the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Bureau of Prisons – we have attached highest priority to providing broad coverage in our audit and inspections work. We will attempt to balance the need for broad coverage against the desirability of conducting more follow-up reviews. We continue to welcome suggestions from you and members of your staff as to audits, inspections, and other types of reviews that would be of greatest value to the Department.

I very much appreciate your support this past year in providing the OIG with the infusion of resources we so desperately need to fulfill our mission. However, the commitment to furnish us with adequate resources must be shared by the Administration and the Congress. In addition to continuing support from this Department, we need OMB to provide genuine backing for our mission, and we must have strong support from the Congress. If we lack any of these elements, we will not be able to fulfill our important responsibilities.

We look forward to working with you on matters of common interest in the months to come.


Very truly yours,


Michael R. Bromwich
Inspector General