Report of Investigation Concerning Alleged Mismanagement and Misconduct by Carl J. Truscott, Former Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Special Report
October 2006
Office of the Inspector General

Chapter Four:
OIG Conclusions

As we described throughout this report, our investigation substantiated various allegations raised in the anonymous complaint against Truscott. Beyond those allegations, we also found that Truscott exercised poor fiscal judgment in many instances. While we did not find that these financial decisions constituted misconduct, we questioned his aggressive hiring policy and numerous specific expenditures related to design changes to the new Headquarters building and other construction projects, particularly given the state of ATF’s budget.159 Many of Truscott’s decisions relating to hiring ATF personnel and to various construction projects would have had a more adverse impact on ATF operations had they not been reversed by others. We were also troubled by the drain on ATF resources that resulted from Truscott’s excessive use of personnel and vehicles in connection with his security, particularly when he traveled.

We found that Truscott acted improperly by directing or authorizing ATF employees to assist his nephew in making a video for a high school project. We concluded that Truscott improperly allowed government property and official time of ATF personnel to be used in connection with the project.

Over the course of the investigation, we also identified several overarching concerns with respect to Truscott’s leadership and management of ATF. First, as noted throughout the report, we were troubled by Truscott’s lack of acceptance of responsibility for many of the decisions on these matters. From relatively minor issues, such as decisions on how to furnish the Director’s Suite in the new Headquarters building, to major policy directives, such as how many new employees to hire, Truscott attempted to deflect responsibility to his subordinates, misrepresented the amount of involvement he had in the actions, or otherwise sought to distance himself from his own decisions. We found several instances where Truscott’s statements to us about his conduct were contradicted by numerous other witnesses, and in some instances, by documents as well.

We were also troubled by Truscott’s failure to seek or accept the counsel of experienced ATF managers on a range of important issues. For example, Truscott dismissed advice from senior managers that ATF could not sustain the level of hiring he had proposed for FY 2006 without depleting resources necessary for agency operations. Truscott also was warned by several senior officials of the repercussions his revisions to the design of the new Headquarters would have on the cost of the project and on ATF’s operating budget, but he disregarded those warnings as well. Truscott also ignored or failed to seek counsel on various issues such as allowing ATF resources to be used for his nephew’s video project and on the use of the representation fund to pay for lunch for him and his guests.

Our specific findings regarding Truscott’s conduct are set out below.

I.   Construction Projects

We found that Truscott was responsible for ordering several hundred thousand dollars worth of upgrades to the Director’s Suite in the new Headquarters building, including expensive millwork and unnecessary amenities. We also found that Truscott had indirect but overall responsibility for expensive design changes to the JSOC, although we did not conclude that these changes were unrelated to ATF’s mission. However, we determined that the JSOC design changes that Truscott encouraged and approved related more to the appearance of the JSOC than to its functionality. We further found that Truscott proposed several structural changes to the gym and suggested purchasing approximately $100,000 in new equipment. We concluded that Truscott was advised by senior budget and management officials that his proposed modifications to the new Headquarters building would have to be paid for out of operational expenses, and that Truscott was therefore aware of the cost implications.

When Truscott arrived at ATF, the design for the new Headquarters building was complete and construction had begun. Truscott became deeply involved in the details of the project, and in particular in the design of the Director’s Suite, the JSOC, and the gym. Truscott either proposed or authorized numerous design changes and upgrades to these areas of the new Headquarters building. We also found that Truscott devoted an excessive amount of time to the redesign and upgrading of his suite and the gym, immersing himself in details at a level that we would not expect of the Director of a major law enforcement agency.

After ATF was told by a congressional staff member not to spend any FY 2006 appropriated funds on the new Headquarters, senior managers took the lead in scaling back the project and cancelled many upgrades requested or authorized by Truscott. Without those modifications Truscott’s design changes would have had a substantially more severe impact on ATF’s operational budget.

We also found that Truscott authorized an expansion and renovation of the gym in ATF’s current headquarters, at a total cost of $16,449, but we concluded that it was within Truscott’s discretion to approve this expenditure.

With respect to ATF field facilities slated for relocation, we found that an ATF committee, comprised of mid-level managers from all ATF directorates, authorized expanding or constructing space for gyms and training rooms, and did so independently of Truscott’s involvement. However, we found that Truscott was responsible for setting aside $750,000 in the FY 2006 budget to purchase equipment and furnishings for the expanded facilities, a finding that is in contrast with Truscott’s recollection of the matter. We also questioned why Truscott did not re-examine the committee’s authorization to build or expand gyms and training rooms at a time when SACs were bringing to Truscott’s attention the lack of adequate work space for personnel.

In addition, we found that Truscott ordered a garage to be built to house an NRT truck at a field training facility at a cost of approximately $156,000. Contrary to Truscott’s statements to us, he tracked the progress of the project and was briefed on its cost prior to construction. Although we concluded that it was within Truscott’s discretion to approve the construction of the garage, we had concerns about Truscott’s forthrightness with the OIG on this matter.

On a related matter, we found insufficient evidence to support the allegation that Truscott improperly expanded the scope of a Federal Firearms Licensing Center feasibility study beyond Congress’s directive.

II.   Assistance in Nephew’s High School Project

We found that Truscott improperly authorized his subordinates to assist his nephew in producing a video about ATF for a high school project. Truscott and approximately 20 ATF employees extensively assisted the nephew with his project in a variety of ways, including providing background information, writing scripts, providing stock footage, conducting on-camera demonstrations and tours, and being interviewed. Substantial employee time and ATF resources were used over an approximately 10-month period to complete and critique the video.

We also found that Truscott had sufficient knowledge of the extent of resources being used on the project to know that it was inappropriate. Truscott’s nephew provided him with a detailed outline of what he wanted the video to include and a list of many interviewees. An official in the Office of Public Affairs stated that she also kept Truscott informed of his nephew’s requests regarding the project. Moreover, Deputy Director Domenech advised Truscott that he should not use ATF resources to assist with his nephew’s school project. Notwithstanding this advice, Truscott allowed ATF’s participation in the project and never placed limits on the ATF resources that could be used in support of the project.

By authorizing the use of ATF resources for his nephew’s project, we believe Truscott violated various ethics regulations, including 5 CFR § 2635.702 (use of public office for private gain); 5 CFR §§ 2635.101(b)(9) and 2635.704 (relating to unauthorized use of government property); and 5 CFR § 2635.705(b) (use of subordinate’s official time).160

III.   Security for Truscott

ATF security for Truscott was extensive and involved a significant drain on ATF resources, both in the Executive Protection Branch (EPB) and when Truscott traveled to the field. This extensive use of resources for Truscott’s security occurred with Truscott’s knowledge and approval. Given ATF’s fiscal circumstances and considering Truscott’s low threat assessment, we questioned whether Truscott permitted more resources to be committed to his security than were necessary.

The EPB was created under authority of DOJ Order 2630.5 prior to and in anticipation of Truscott’s arrival as Director of ATF. However, under Truscott’s tenure, the EPB grew in number of personnel, vehicles, and overall use of resources. Many of the resources used to provide security for Truscott came from field divisions, which we found were expected to provide numerous special agents, vehicles, and even a medic when Truscott traveled to the field. Many witnesses we interviewed expressed frustration at being required to divert these resources from conventional field division functions. We also questioned Truscott’s occasional use of EPB and field division personnel and vehicles in connection with non-official excursions, such as to accompany him while meeting a friend on a Saturday during a trip to California.

We further concluded that, on various occasions, Truscott used EPB and field divisions selectively and based more on considerations of appearance than on fluctuations in security needs. This selective use was evidenced by, among other practices, Truscott’s scaling down his protective detail when he visited the Main Justice Department building, which witnesses told us was driven by Truscott’s concern over how a larger detail might be perceived by DOJ officials.

Truscott claimed that his security arrangements were the result of his subordinates’ decisions and judgments and were not his responsibility. We determined that Truscott had significant input into both EPB and field division procedures regarding his security arrangements. He made his preferences known, and he also expressed displeasure when he believed the security arrangements were inadequate. Truscott’s assertions that he was merely deferring to the recommendations of the EPB special agents were contrary to the evidence we found.

IV.   Travel

We also questioned the arrangements for several of Truscott’s trips, including the number of other ATF employees who accompanied him. Truscott and eight other ATF employees traveled to London, England, in September 2005 to meet with U.K. officials to discuss a possible ATF detail position with the London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), among other issues. We had concerns about the number of travelers who accompanied Truscott on the trip, and in particular the need for four ATF security personnel, especially given the protection provided by the MPS that had been arranged in advance and the secure facilities at which Truscott was scheduled to meet the U.K. officials. We also questioned why two ATF employees, whose overall purpose for participating in the trip was not clear, traveled to London five days in advance of Truscott’s arrival and left one day after Truscott’s departure. The total cost of the trip for the nine ATF employees was over $37,000.

On another trip in October 2005, Truscott traveled to New York City to attend a charity dinner for law enforcement agents killed in the line of duty. We found that excessive ATF resources were used to escort Truscott to and from the function, including two EPB agents, five field division agents, and three vehicles.

In January 2005, Truscott traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, to meet with the new Headquarters architect and to tour one of the architect’s buildings, and then traveled to Ottawa, Canada, for official meetings with U.S. Embassy officials, Canadian officials, and ATF employees, and to visit buildings that had been designed by the architect. We found that Truscott was accompanied by five ATF Headquarters employees in Boston. An additional five field division employees, including the SAC, were involved on the Boston leg of the trip. Again, we questioned Truscott’s judgment in allowing such an extensive use of resources for that portion of the trip. We also were troubled by Truscott’s denial of responsibility for the use of these resources.

V.   ATF Reception at IACP Convention

We found that ATF’s reception aboard a yacht at the September 2005 IACP Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, was poorly planned and resulted in a potential claim by a charter boat company against the agency for additional costs based on the alleged attendance of several hundred more guests than originally planned for. The potential claim, if meritorious, could cause ATF to incur expenses beyond those authorized to be expended from the FY 2005 representational fund. However, we did not find that Truscott was responsible for the planning of the event.

VI.   Use of the Representation Fund

Truscott often used ATF funds for lunches in his office with guests. We identified three questionable instances in which Truscott hosted lunches in his office that did not appear to “promote personal relationships necessary to enhance the performance of [ATF],” the applicable standard for appropriate use of the representation fund under ATF Order 1100.163A. The amount of the funds used for these lunches was small. However, we were troubled by Truscott’s shifting of responsibility for his use of the representation fund onto others. We also had concerns that Truscott did not seek sufficient guidance from the Chief Counsel’s Office on the proper use of the fund, notwithstanding his assertions that he had done so.

VII.   Creation of a Hostile Work Environment

We found that Truscott directed two female administrative staffers to assist in preparing for and serving lunches to him and his guests. We determined that, contrary to Truscott’s statements to us, he conveyed his instructions to the Administrative Assistants, through another employee, regarding how he wanted the meals prepared and served. That employee confirmed, for example, that on at least one occasion, Truscott directed that one of the Administrative Assistants announce, “Lunch is served.” Although we did not find that Truscott violated any regulations or agency policies through these actions, we concluded that he exercised poor judgment by requesting his subordinates to perform such functions which were not part of their job duties.

VIII.   Personnel Practices

We found that Truscott acted within his discretion by hiring a longtime acquaintance and former Secret Service colleague for an ATF Assistant Director position, even though a panel that reviewed the applicants ranked others as better suited for the position. We also found that Truscott acted within his discretion in elevating the performance rating of this individual above the rating he had initially been given after nine months on the job, notwithstanding that the upgrade in the rating entailed a monetary benefit.

IX.   Use of Visual Information Branch Resources

We found that Truscott did not make improper use of VIB resources, and in particular of ATF photographers. We concluded that the allegation that Truscott often required two photographers to accompany him at events was not substantiated. We also concluded that Truscott did not use excessive ATF resources in directing that a booklet for ATF employees be published, and he acted within his discretion in authorizing an update of a video about the ATF.

X.   Recommendations

Because Truscott resigned as the ATF Director on August 4, 2006, we make no recommendations regarding his actions.

In the course of our investigation, however, we learned of two additional areas of ATF’s procedures that we recommend the ATF address.

First, as noted in Chapter Three, Section VI, above, we found that ATF employees failed to comply with FTR and ATF travel procedures by failing to document the reasons for incurring costs beyond the government rates for hotel accommodations. We recommend that ATF employees be reminded of the need to comply with all ATF and Department travel procedures.

Second, as discussed in Chapter Three, Section VII, above, concerning the September 2005 ATF Reception at the IACP Convention in Miami Beach, ATF failed to enter into a clear agreement with the charter boat company servicing the event. The absence of a written contract led to a misunderstanding between ATF and the company regarding the amount to be charged for extra food and services alleged to have been provided.

We recommend that in the future ATF, through its Chief Counsel’s Office, review contracts with vendors who will be providing ATF services for events. If the event is to be paid for by sponsors, as was the case here, we recommend that ATF create an accounts receivable for the sponsors’ donations so that ATF can pay for its events pursuant to binding agreements.

  1. A discussion of Truscott’s hiring policy and its impact on the ATF budget is discussed in Chapter Three, Section I, above.

  2. Contrary to the statement in Truscott’s letter to the OIG, which asserted that our report did not find any administrative misconduct by Truscott, these violations do constitute misconduct.

« Previous Table of Contents Next »