USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 1999 - September 30, 1999

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Office of the Inspector General

OIG Profile

By Act of Congress, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) was established in the U.S. Department of Justice (Department) on April 14, 1989. The OIG investigates alleged violations of criminal and civil laws, regulations, and ethical standards arising from the conduct of the Department's employees in their numerous and diverse activities. The OIG provides leadership and assists management in promoting integrity, economy, efficiency, and effectiveness within the Department and in its financial, contractual, and grant relationships with others. Many of our reports are available on the OIG's website at <> .

The OIG carried out its mission during this reporting period with a decreasing workforce due to a hiring freeze necessitated by reduced funding and an uncertain overall funding level. The OIG had a workforce of approximately 453 employees at the time it initiated its hiring freeze in August 1998 and will begin Fiscal Year (FY) 2000 with a workforce of 400 special agents, auditors, inspectors, and support staff. The special agents are assigned to offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Colorado Springs, Dallas, El Centro, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, McAllen, Miami, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Tucson. The auditors are located in offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Other OIG components¾the Inspections Division, the Special Investigations and Review Unit (SIRU), the Management and Planning Division (M&P), the Office of General Counsel, and the Inspector General's (IG's) immediate office¾are located in Washington, D.C. Mailing addresses and telephone and facsimile numbers for each office are listed on the OIG's website.

The OIG's FY 1999 direct appropriation was $34.175 million. Additionally, the OIG earned reimbursements of (1) $2.5 million from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for audit, inspections, and investigative oversight work of the INS User Fee account; (2) $1.25 million from the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees (EOUST) for trustee audits; (3) $1.6 million from the Working Capital Fund and other Department components for oversight of financial statement audit work; (4) $3.8 million from the Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund (VCRTF) for oversight of law enforcement grant programs funded through VCRTF; and (5) $3.6 million from the Department's Assets Forfeiture Fund Super Surplus for audit, inspections, and investigative oversight work of the INS Exams Fee account and for the continuing investigation into Citizenship U.S.A. (CUSA).

This Semiannual Report to Congress reviews the accomplishments of the OIG for the 6-month period ending September 30, 1999. As required by Section 5 of the Inspector General Act of 1978 (IG Act), as amended, this Report is submitted to the Attorney General for her review no later than October 31, 1999. No later than November 30, 1999, the Attorney General is required to forward the Report to Congress along with her Semiannual Management Report to Congress that presents the Department's position on audit resolution and follow-up activity discussed in the Report.

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Special Inquiries

SIRU, located within the immediate office of the IG, investigates high profile or sensitive matters involving Department programs or employees. SIRU also reviews allegations of misconduct against OIG personnel. SIRU is composed of attorneys, investigators, paralegals, and program analysts.

A number of OIG special investigations are of significant interest to the public and Congress and of vital importance to the Department. Teams working on these cases include senior attorneys, special agents, auditors, and inspectors. Many OIG special investigative reports are available on the OIG's website.

Following are brief descriptions of recently completed and current OIG special investigations.

Campaign Finance

In September 1997, the Attorney General and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) learned that classified intelligence information pertaining to the Department's Campaign Finance Task Force (Task Force) investigation may not have been appropriately disseminated within the FBI and the Department. In November 1997, the Attorney General asked the OIG to review how this intelligence information was handled.

On July 14, 1999, the OIG transmitted its report to the Attorney General, the Director of the FBI, the FBI's National Security Division (NSD), and certain congressional committees. The 576-page classified report was the product of a review of over 18,000 pages of classified information and more than 120 interviews. The OIG also released a 23-page unclassified summary of the report.

The OIG found that the Department's handling of classified information related to the campaign finance investigation was hampered by a range of problems. We concluded that none of the FBI's problems disseminating and reporting classified information was attributable to intentional malfeasance or purposeful obstruction of the Task Force investigation. Further, none was the product of an improper intent to conceal information or prevent it from being disclosed to parties in the Department, Congress, or the National Security Council. Rather, many of the problems we found were attributable to multiple factors including poor judgment on the part of NSD personnel, well-intentioned misapplication of Departmental policy, attempts by individuals in NSD to protect the division's narrow interests without sufficient regard for the impact of their actions upon the Task Force investigation, legitimate Departmental policy disputes about disseminating criminal and intelligence information, problems in the use and maintenance of the FBI's computer database systems, and/or poor communication between members of the Task Force and NSD and among the

The Washington Post                                                   Thursday, July 15, 1999
The Washington Post Article dtd Thursday, July 15, 1999

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Special Inquiries

various parties within the Department who were involved in the Task Force investigation. The unprecedented nature of the campaign finance investigation, which involved information from intelligence and criminal sources, also contributed to complications in the handling of relevant classified information.

The OIG made numerous recommendations to correct the problems in intelligence handling. The FBI agreed with almost all of the recommendations in the OIG report, and the Department has begun efforts to implement those changes.

Criminal Calls By BOP Inmates

Telephone privileges for Bureau of Prisons (BOP) inmates have increased dramatically since the 1970s, when inmates were permitted one telephone call every three months and the call was placed by BOP staff. Now, most BOP inmates are allowed to make as many telephone calls as they can afford or as many collect calls as people outside prison will accept. In August 1999, the OIG issued a report on a review we conducted of BOP's management of inmate telephone privileges. During the review, the OIG obtained information from U.S. Attorney's Offices (USAOs), FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) field offices, and BOP facilities. The OIG also interviewed more than 70 BOP employees and 20 other Department employees and visited 9 BOP facilities with varying security levels and physical layouts.

Our review found a significant problem with federal inmates using prison telephones to commit serious crimes while incarcerated—including instances of arranging for murders, drug trafficking, and fraud. We found that, although it has been aware of inmates' abuse of prison telephones for some time, BOP has taken insufficient steps to address the problem. For example, while all inmate calls are recorded, BOP staff listened to less than 4 percent. We also found that inmates who had been convicted of committing crimes using prison telephones still enjoyed full telephone privileges.

Based on our review, we recommended that BOP curb prison telephone abuse by monitoring more inmate calls, increasing and more consistently disciplining telephone abusers, restricting telephone privileges for inmates with a history of abuse, and emphasizing the responsibility of its officers to detect and deter crime by inmates using BOP telephones.

                                        The Washington Times                                             FRIDAY, AUGUST 13, 1999

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Special Inquiries


On July 1, 1999, at the request of the Attorney General and the Commissioner of INS, the OIG initiated a review into how INS handled its encounters with Rafael Resendez-Ramirez, a Mexican national accused of committing several murders in the United States. On June 2, 1999, INS had Resendez-Ramirez in custody but allowed him to return voluntarily to Mexico. Resendez-Ramirez allegedly returned to the United States illegally and committed four more murders. We also are reviewing how INS' IDENT fingerprint identification system¾an automated biometric identification system designed to quickly and accurately match the fingerprints of encountered aliens¾functioned in this case.

Citizenship U.S.A.

In September 1995, INS initiated CUSA, a program designed to substantially reduce the backlog of pending naturalization applications. More than one million individuals were naturalized during the year the program was in operation.

At the request of Congress and the Attorney General, the OIG began an investigation of CUSA following allegations of misconduct within the program, including allegations that applicants with disqualifying backgrounds were naturalized and that standards were compromised in an effort to maximize the number of persons eligible to vote in the November 1996 elections.

A team of attorneys and OIG special agents, inspectors, auditors, and support personnel conducted more than 1,000 interviews of INS personnel and others and reviewed tens of thousands of documents. The team currently is preparing the report of investigation.

Lost Trust

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the FBI and the South Carolina USAO conducted a major investigation called "Lost Trust" into corruption, vote-buying, influence peddling, and drug usage in the South Carolina state legislature. After litigation that lasted six years, a U.S. district judge dismissed all remaining charges, citing misconduct by the FBI, USAO, and the Department's Public Integrity Section. The court also was critical of an earlier investigation by the Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

At the request of the Deputy Attorney General, the OIG initiated a review of the prosecutions and investigations implicated in the court's dismissal order. The OIG investigative team reviewed thousands of documents related to the investigation and prosecution of the cases and related documents generated by the Department's OPR and the FBI's OPR. The team also interviewed the persons involved in handling these cases, including prosecutors, defense counsel, defendants, trial witnesses, and the district judge. The team currently is completing the report of investigation.


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Special Inquiries


The Criminal Division's International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) and Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (OPDAT) office are designed to foster, support, and strengthen democratic principles and structures of law enforcement in foreign countries. Particularly in those countries that recently have embraced democracy, ICITAP and OPDAT provide training for police, prosecutors, and the judiciary and advice on American laws and programs to combat crime within a democratic framework.

The OIG began an investigation of ICITAP and OPDAT following allegations of program mismanagement and supervisory misconduct. The investigative team of special agents, auditors, inspectors, and support personnel, under the direction of a senior attorney, conducted more than 400 interviews in the United States and several foreign countries and reviewed more than 50,000 pages of documents. The team currently is completing the report of investigation.


Kenneth Trentadue, an inmate held at the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was found dead in his cell in August 1995. The BOP concluded that Trentadue committed suicide by hanging. However, allegations that Trentadue was murdered led to an investigation by the FBI and the Department's Civil Rights Division. The investigation concluded that there was insufficient evidence of any violation of federal criminal civil rights laws. Following that investigation, the OIG initiated a separate review focusing on whether BOP or FBI employees mishandled evidence or engaged in other misconduct in the events surrounding Trentadue's death. The team currently is completing the report of investigation.


Other Activities


Other OIG Contributions

OIG semiannual reports feature the major investigations and programmatic reviews performed by the OIG during the past six months. In addition, the OIG has engaged in other noteworthy activities that significantly contribute to the Department and the governmental community.

n The OIG San Diego Field Office participates, along with the FBI, DEA, U.S. Customs Office of Internal Affairs, and Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in the San Diego Border Corruption Task Force (BCTF) that investigates allegations of corruption filed against federal law enforcement officials. Currently there are 23 ongoing BCTF investigations, 10 of which were initially reported to the San Diego Field Office. This task force recently arrested the first alleged alien smuggler charged with violating the federal racketeering statute (see page 12).


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Other Activities


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Other Activities


GPRA Activities

In response to Congress' call for assessment of the Department's Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) implementation efforts, the Audit Division is completing the audit of the Department's initial FY 2000 Annual Performance Plan to determine if deficiencies previously reported by the General Accounting Office are now corrected. During OIG audits and inspections in FY 2000, where possible, we plan to examine GPRA performance indicators that have been identified by components in the reviews we conduct of Department programs. Where practicable and within the scope of the assignment, we will highlight the existence or absence of such indicators and offer insights into whether the reported results are supported by reliable measurement methods or systems.

Y2K Audits

Accurate identification and tracking of mission-critical systems are necessary to enable the Department and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to ensure an orderly completion of efforts to meet the Y2K threat. Therefore, it is essential that accurate information be reported to senior management in a timely manner to ensure that the Department's mission-critical systems will, in fact, be ready.

To assist the Department's senior management, the Audit Division has taken an active role in addressing the Department's Y2K efforts for its mission-critical systems. We have issued a series of reports that focus on the Department's Y2K efforts and initiatives at the Department's Data Centers in Rockville, Maryland, and Dallas, Texas; the Department's Y2K efforts related to monitoring and reporting the status of its mission-critical computer systems; and Y2K efforts at several Department components.


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Other Activities

OIG Y2K Compliance

Since obtaining funding last December, M&P has aggressively worked to replace obsolete technology within the OIG with state-of-the-art hardware and software. M&P undertook this ambitious effort to:

Although the OIG is a small agency, its nationwide organizational structure complicates both the support and deployment of technology. More network hardware components, specifically servers, routers, switches, communications servers, and shared printers, are needed to support a geographically dispersed organization than are required in a centralized environment. Despite this challenge, in less than one year M&P will have replaced the entire network and information systems for OIG offices in 15 locations throughout the country.

The OIG also has successfully made the transition from being dependent upon DOS-based software, which is no longer manufactured or supported, to current, off-the-shelf Windows-based products. This has increased staff productivity, made network failures a rarity rather than a commonplace occurrence, and provided desktop Internet access throughout the OIG.

Inspector General Congressional Testimony

The IG testified on April 14, 1999, before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims about border enforcement issues between the United States and Canada. In addition, the IG testified on May 5, 1999, before the same subcommittee with respect to fraud involving non-immigrant visas and other immigration documents. Finally, in a third hearing before the subcommittee, the IG testified on July 29, 1999, about OIG oversight of INS programs and personnel. The Subcommittee called the hearing as part of its debate on the "Immigration Reorganization and Improvement Act of 1999," a legislative proposal that would restructure INS.

On May 25, 1999, the IG testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to discuss the OIG's special report, The CIA-Contra-Crack Cocaine Controversy: A Review of the Justice Department's Investigations and Prosecutions. This report examined the actions of various Department employees with respect to allegations that individuals associated with the Nicaraguan Contras who had flooded Los Angeles with cocaine in the 1980s were treated leniently by federal law enforcement authorities.

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Other Activities

Legislation and Regulations

The IG Act directs the IG to review proposed legislation and regulations relating to the programs and operations of the Department. Although the Department's Office of Legislative Affairs reviews all proposed or enacted legislation that could affect the Department's activities, the OIG independently reviews proposed legislation that affects it or legislation that relates to fraud, waste, and abuse in the Department's programs or operations.

During this reporting period, the OIG reviewed more than two dozen pieces of legislation including the Government Waste, Fraud, and Error Reduction Act of 1999 that requires OIGs to review agency annual reports with respect to nontax debt collection management practices, a provision in the Federal Reports Elimination and Sunset Act of 1995 that eliminates certain agency reporting requirements, and a proposed amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act regarding activities of the U.S. Department of State OIG.

In addition, the OIG continued to work with the Department and BOP on legislation that would extend federal criminal penalties to inmates who possess contraband in contract detention facilities as well as to contract prison employees who sexually assault federal inmates in contract facilities.

President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency Activities

The President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE) consists of the 27 Presidentially appointed IGs in the federal government. In addition, the executive order creating PCIE specifies that the Office of Government Ethics, Office of Special Counsel, FBI, and OMB also serve as members. PCIE conducts interagency and inter-entity audits, inspections, and investigations to address government-wide waste, fraud, and abuse.

During this reporting period, the IG served on the Legislation Committee. OIG staff participate in PCIE activities--such as the Inspections Round Table, an annual investigations conference, meetings of the Chief Financial Officers Group, and the OIG GPRA Coordinators' Interest Group--that relate to their respective duties.

The AIGI participates in the PCIE Investigations Advisory Subcommittee. The Subcommittee advises the Investigations Committee of PCIE on matters of policy, training, and practices relating to OIG investigations. The participants recently met and discussed basic and advanced training for all investigative personnel at the combined Treasury IG for Tax Administration and the IG Training Academies. Recommendations regarding training curricula will be made to the Chair of the PCIE Investigations Committee.