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U. S. Department of Justice
Office of the Inspector General

Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 2000 - September 30, 2000


scale    The Inspections Division assesses Department programs and activities and makes recommendations for improvements in programs, policies, and procedures.

The Inspections Division (Inspections) provides the IG with an alternative mechanism to traditional audits and investigations through management assessments and program evaluations that assess the efficiency, vulnerability, and effectiveness of Department operations. Inspections relies on its multidisciplinary workforce to promptly respond to diverse issues. Inspections is located in Washington, D.C., and is directed by the Assistant Inspector General for Inspections.

During this reporting period, Inspections completed eight reviews covering programs in the INS, FBI, BOP, and OJP.


Secure Electronic Network for Travelers' Rapid Inspection

In FY 1995, with assistance from the Justice Performance Review (JPR), the INS and Customs Service jointly developed the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers' Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) pilot project. JPR offers agencies like the INS assistance in developing, planning, and implementing reinvention laboratories as part of the Vice President's National Partnership for Reinventing Government effort. SENTRI is intended to expedite the primary inspection process at land POEs for low-risk, prescreened border crossers in noncommercial vehicles using the latest electronic and computer technology, without compromising border integrity. This review assessed whether SENTRI has met its mission, considered SENTRI's impact on both commuter wait times and border integrity in the general inspection lanes, and examined SENTRI's current challenges.

Overall, we found that SENTRI is meeting its mission. At the two sites we visited, SENTRI had led to lower commuter wait times for those using the SENTRI lane. In addition, no major border violations by SENTRI users had been reported at these sites.

Our review did identify several areas where improvement is necessary: funding shortfalls, evaluation of SENTRI's operations, and a lack of long-range planning. A lack of long-range planning has left critical issues unresolved, including whether SENTRI's sites along the Southwest and Northern Borders will be integrated and whether SENTRI will be established by the INS and Customs Service as a permanent program. A more comprehensive framework for objectively evaluating and selecting future SENTRI sites is also needed. Although SENTRI is intended to be self-supporting through the collection of a user fee, we found that the current user fee is inadequate to recover SENTRI's full operating costs. In addition, we found that improvements are needed to ensure border integrity will continue to be maintained at each current and future SENTRI site. Finally, SENTRI has not been fully evaluated by the INS, Customs Service, or JPR.

We recommended that the INS develop and implement a plan for recovering SENTRI's full operating costs at all sites and that the INS work with the Customs Service and JPR to develop and implement long-range plans for SENTRI's future. In addition, we recommended that the INS require inspectors to follow SENTRI's existing audit procedures consistently, perform semiannual evaluations of SENTRI's full operations, reassess SENTRI's performance plan, revise the current framework for evaluating and selecting future SENTRI sites, and strengthen current methods for projecting enrollment levels at future sites. The INS concurred and agreed to implement each of our recommendations.

Follow-up on Document Fraud Inspection

The OIG initiated this follow-up inspection to analyze the INS's actions taken in response to the 1996 OIG inspection, INS's Document Fraud Records Corrections, which was reported in our September 1996 Semiannual Report to Congress. Our follow-up review assessed whether the INS developed and implemented procedures to flag Central Index System (CIS) records on the 4,585 aliens that were identified in the 1996 inspection as being associated with OIG criminal investigation cases involving immigration documents and fraudulently obtained benefits.

We found that the INS complied with the OIG recommendation by flagging the records provided by the OIG as a result of the 1996 inspection. However, we found several areas where improvements are necessary to ensure the enforcement integrity of the flagging procedures, and we made specific recommendations to improve the procedures.

We also recommended that the INS direct field personnel and contractors to follow current policy by conducting searches in the CIS for all applications and petitions before INS benefits are granted or any INS actions are taken. The INS concurred in part with this recommendation and is analyzing existing policy in order to offer an alternate solution.

FBI Compliance with Federal Agency Child Support Efforts

As part of a joint ongoing PCIE pilot project by the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) OIGs, Inspections conducted a review of child support enforcement at the FBI. The goal of this pilot project is to determine whether federal employees are current in their child support obligations and whether federal agencies cooperate with child support enforcement efforts against federal employees.

We examined how the FBI works with the HHS's Office of Child Support Enforcement to ensure that all FBI employees who owe child support are paying it. We found that the FBI is meeting its obligations to ensure that employees pay owed child support. The FBI conducts a weekly data match of its payroll records with Office of Child Support Enforcement data, returns appropriate information to the Office of Child Support Enforcement for state enforcement efforts, and implements wage withholding orders against FBI employees. No recommendations were made in the report, which was provided to the HHS and PCIE's Inspection and Evaluation Committee (Committee) for use in the joint pilot project. Inspections management briefed the Committee on the results of this review. The report is posted on the Committee's report page of the IGnet's website.

The INS and Airline Industry Relations

The INS is required by the Immigration and Nationality Act to inspect passengers transported to the United States by commercial airlines. The law also places responsibility on each commercial airline to prevent improperly documented passengers from flying to the United States. We conducted an inspection to assess the INS's interactions with the airline industry in three areas: INS training of airline personnel to identify improperly documented passengers, the exchange of tactical information (intelligence) to help airlines prevent the boarding of improperly documented passengers, and communications at the executive and field levels on programmatic and policy issues.

We found that the INS had no effective method to evaluate the effectiveness of its training of airline personnel, had not identified the universe of airline employees needing training, and did not disseminate a comprehensive schedule of planned training to the airlines. We also found that, with limited exceptions, the INS was not sharing tactical information with the airlines and that no clear INS policy existed for the dissemination of such information to the airlines. Finally, we found that no formal reporting mechanism exists for apprising the INS Commissioner of the results of User Fee Advisory Committee (UFAC) meetings, which facilitate communications between the INS and the airline industry.

The INS concurred with, and is taking action to implement, all of our recommendations. The INS stated that it will evaluate the effectiveness of its training, obtain airline industry input on who needs training, and consolidate training scheduling and notification to the airline industry. The INS also will provide field personnel with formal instructions on what information can be shared, designate local officials to approve the information to be shared, provide formal instructions to the field to ensure the timely dissemination of information, and designate an INS official at major international airports to foster the exchange of information with airlines. The INS will develop a method for reporting UFAC advice to the INS Commissioner, designate a senior INS point of contact who can speak for the INS at UFAC meetings, maintain a list of outstanding UFAC issues and provide status reports to the airlines, ensure adequate representation at UFAC meetings, and encourage INS port officials to meet with their airline counterparts on a quarterly basis.

The BOP's Inmate Financial Responsibility Program

Federal courts, when sentencing convicted federal offenders to confinement in federal institutions, may impose financial penalties such as assessments, fines, and restitution. In 1987, the BOP implemented the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (IFRP) as a means of encouraging federal offenders to voluntarily pay these financial obligations. We reviewed the BOP's overall management of the IFRP and four BOP institutions' compliance with IFRP policies and procedures.

We found that the BOP has developed and implemented the IFRP in a manner that generally encourages inmates to make payments toward their court-ordered financial obligations. However, we identified four areas where the BOP could further improve the IFRP. These areas are (1) adhering to IFRP guidance, (2) documenting counseling sessions with inmates, (3) performing monthly program quality reviews, and (4) implementing the IFRP in contractor-run community corrections centers to ensure offenders make payments toward their financial obligations.

We recommended that the BOP ensure that staff involved in administering and implementing the IFRP understand their responsibilities and adhere to the program guidance; document discussions with inmates about changes in their IFRP participation and payment progress; and understand the benefits of, and procedures for, conducting monthly quality reviews of the IFRP. We also recommended that the BOP develop and implement policy and procedures for community corrections centers to counsel offenders about making their IFRP payments directly to the courts or USAOs, as appropriate; monitor offenders' payments toward their financial obligations; and document payment information in the offenders' files. The BOP concurred with our recommendations and has initiated corrective actions.

Follow-up Inspection of the Influx of New Personnel

Our September 1995 and March 1996 Semiannual Reports to Congress reported on our review of the INS's ability to recruit, train, and deploy the anticipated increase of Border Patrol agents in FY 1996 and the INS's plans to address our report recommendations, respectively. This follow-up review found that the INS had made significant progress; however, some areas still need improvement in this Department management concern area. Our 1995 report, Influx of New Personnel in INS, cited that the main problems were the shortage of training, support personnel, and equipment. During the follow-up review, we found that problems with recruiting and hiring had developed and the training problem no longer existed. The INS cannot meet congressionally mandated hiring goals and will most likely continue to have problems in meeting future recruitment goals if they remain at the mandated hiring level of 1,000 new agents annually. However, the INS has made changes in the recruiting and hiring processes that have shown positive results.

The INS reached the required hiring goal once in the last four years. The Border Patrol, however, grew from about 4,200 agents at the beginning of FY 1995 to about 8,200 at the end of FY 1999. Although the INS has not met its hiring goals, the large number of new agents deployed places greater strains on supervisors, facilities, vehicles, and equipment. While there have been some minor improvements, the Border Patrol still is having problems with most areas of deployment. We found that the INS still does not provide sectors with sufficient advance notice of how many new agents each sector will receive or when they will arrive. Because of the time lag between developing deployment plans and new building construction, there continues to be severe overcrowding along the Southwest Border. Also, the INS has not filled enough support positions to adequately support the current level of agent staffing. Border Patrol agents therefore must spend considerable time in support functions in lieu of direct Border Patrol operations.

We made no formal recommendations but suggested improvements in the following areas:

Review of Retrofitting of Border Patrol Vehicles

While inspectors were conducting the follow-up review of the influx of new personnel in the INS, Border Patrol officials at sites we visited reported vast improvements and great satisfaction with the consolidated vehicle retrofitting program at the BOP facility in Bastrop, Texas. The OIG conducted a brief review of this program to provide INS management with a snapshot of how the retrofit program is progressing.

The Border Patrol sectors receive two new vehicles for every three new agents as well as a limited number of replacement vehicles. All new and replacement vehicles are retrofitted with Border Patrol-required equipment before they are placed into service. Prior to 1999, each Border Patrol sector arranged for its own retrofitting work. In FY 1999, the INS and BOP signed an interagency agreement to consolidate the retrofitting process at the Bastrop facility. Currently, the nine Border Patrol sectors along the Southwest Border have their vehicles retrofitted at the Bastrop facility.

Overall, the nine Border Patrol sectors and BOP believe the retrofitting program has been beneficial. At the time of our review, the program was already expanding to some Northern Border sectors. The BOP and the Bastrop facility are also supportive of the program because it offers prisoners specialized training and skills readily transferable to outside employment upon their release and because they believe the consolidated process of ordering equipment and retrofitting is more efficient and cost effective.

Both agencies agree that it is a good program overall and are in favor of expanding it to other locations and functions. While we made no formal recommendations to the INS, we did identify three areas for improvement: increasing standardization of the retrofit equipment, establishing a full-time permanent INS liaison at the Bastrop facility, and assessing the program before expanding it to areas other than retrofitting.

Oversight of the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners Formula Grant Program

Under the Crime Act, formula grant funding is awarded by OJP to eligible states to develop or enhance residential substance abuse treatment programs for offenders incarcerated in state and local correctional facilities. OJP monitors grantees' compliance with the requirements of the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) Program through periodic reports and on-site visits. We reviewed OJP's administration of the RSAT Program and concluded that OJP could strengthen its monitoring of grant recipients.

We found that OJP could enhance its monitoring activities by obtaining more timely and definitive information about project funding and the progress of program implementation from grantees. We recommended that OJP require its grant managers to notify grantees when reports are untimely or inaccurate and work with the grantees to ensure submission of the overdue or corrected reports.

We also recommended that OJP improve the quality of its monitoring efforts by ensuring the results of its report reviews, on-site visits, and other interactions with grantees cover critical aspects of the RSAT Program and are well-documented. We recommended that OJP require its grant managers to formally document site visits and other significant contacts with grantees and subgrantees and maintain these records in the grant files.

OJP was responsive to our recommendations and has initiated improvements in its grant monitoring practices.


Unresolved Inspections

DOJ Order 2900.10, Follow-up and Resolution Policy for Inspection Recommendations by the OIG requires inspection reports to be resolved within six months of the report issuance date. As of September 30, there are no unresolved inspection recommendations.


The chart below summarizes Inspections' accomplishments for the 6-month reporting period ending September 30, 2000.

Inspections' accomplishments

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