USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 1996- September 30, 1996

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The Inspections Division

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

USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 1996- September 30, 1996

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Inspections Division

Overview & Highlights

The Inspections Division provides the Inspector General with an alternative mechanism to assess Department of Justice programs and activities. The Division conducts analyses and makes recommendations to decisionmakers for improvements in Department programs, policies, and procedures. The Division's strength lies in its multidisciplinary workforce and the ability to quickly address diverse issue areas. In addition to assessing Department programs, the Division also conducts special inquiries—assignments requiring immediate action—that are generally initiated at the request of senior Department management or by the Congress.

Work accomplishments during this reporting period include: an assessment of the obstacles the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) faces to effective enforcement of immigration laws in sweatshops, Department employee usage of the American Express charge card and monitoring procedures to detect misuse, and the Department's compliance with rules for securing grand jury material and obtaining clearances for private grand jury court reporter personnel.

Significant Inspections

INS Document Fraud Records Corrections

Our review focused on fraud schemes involving the purchase of INS documents from corrupt INS employees and the payment of bribes to INS employees in return for obtaining an immigration benefit.

We found several problems:

  INS investigators usually did not attempt to locate aliens identified as participants in fraud schemes because of higher investigative priorities such as criminal aliens and employer sanctions;

  INS investigators and other INS officers did not initiate deportation proceedings against these aliens; and

  INS did not delete or correct entries to its Central Index System (CIS) to reflect aliens known to have fraudulently obtained documents, nor did INS have provisions for placing codes or flags on CIS records to alert INS officers should they encounter these same aliens in the future.

The Washington Post Thursday, October 24, 1996

INS' failure to take action against these aliens undermines the credibility of INS' enforcement efforts. We recommended INS develop a flagging system that will alert INS personnel to alien participation in fraud schemes so that benefits will be denied and that INS take more action to locate and deport aliens known to have participated as customers in fraudulent document schemes.

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Significant Inspections

Efforts to Combat Harboring and Employing Illegal Aliens in Sweatshops

The INS is responsible for enforcing the laws designed to prevent the employment of illegal aliens and reducing the employment incentives that encourage illegal immigration. Some corrupt employers attempt to circumvent the law by operating underground sweatshops where they employ illegal aliens. The INS faces significant obstacles to effective enforcement of immigration law in sweatshops.

Our inspection found that:

  INS' intelligence division has limited intelligence on sweatshop operations and their links to alien-smuggling organizations stemming from the division's almost total dependence on information from other law enforcement agencies or other INS divisions;

  INS field offices use interagency task forces and innovative enforcement approaches on a limited basis to enforce immigration law in sweatshops;

  INS is unable to deport most aliens found working illegally in the United States or to stop the proliferation of fraudulent work authorization documents; and

  INS' collection difficulties and its failure to track delinquent collection cases may impair the deterrent effect of civil fines on sweatshop operators.

To immediately increase the effectiveness of its sweatshop enforcement efforts, INS should 1) take a stronger leadership role by improving communication links with concerned agencies; 2) develop a plan to increase INS' ability to collect and analyze intelligence on sweatshop operators and their connection to alien smugglers; 3) use the full range of civil and criminal sanctions available to INS under the Immigration and Nationality Act and the U.S. Criminal Code; and 4) implement a process to track all employer sanctions and civil fine collections, identify delinquent debtors, and assess required penalties, interest, and administrative costs.

It is important that INS address these problems because a large illegal immigrant workforce will continue to be available to sweatshop operators for the foreseeable future.

Use of the American Express Charge Card in the Department

The American Express Government Program establishes individual accounts for authorized Department employees and issues these employees charge cards to pay for their transportation and other travel-related expenses. The Department's Justice Management Division (JMD) has provided overall guidance to the components on use of the American Express Government Program, and each component has issued additional guidance to its employees that addresses selected options of the Program.

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Significant Inspections

Our inspection found, however, that the Department's and the components' procedures address the use of the charge card by individual cardholders for their transportation and subsistence expenses while on official travel, but do not address other business uses. We also found that not all employees used their Government charge cards to the extent possible for hotel and rental car expenses, thus preventing the Department from receiving the American Express rebate program's maximum refund benefit. Finally, based on a limited sample of charge card transactions, we found a small incidence of payment delinquencies and charge card misuse, including inappropriate retail purchases and automated teller machine withdrawals without associated travel.

To address these concerns, JMD was asked to review the Department's travel regulations to clarify allowable travel-related expenses and to issue additional guidance for program coordinators' use in monitoring American Express charge card expenditures.

Despite these weaknesses, according to payment performance information from American Express, the Department's payment record has been better than that of most other Federal agencies for the period covered during the review.

Safeguarding Grand Jury Material at U.S. Attorneys' Offices

In Fiscal Years (FYs) 1994 and 1995, the U.S. Attorneys' Offices (USAOs) spent over $9.9 million on grand jury court reporter-related services. Our inspection found numerous problems related to grand jury court reporting. We determined that some court reporter personnel (including court reporters, office support staff, office couriers, and translators) who have access to grand jury material did not have adequate security clearances at 60 percent of USAOs. These USAOs used court reporter personnel who never had background investigations, had expired clearances, or both. In addition, several USAOs had incomplete or no records regarding court reporter personnel clearances.

We found several inadequacies related to the physical security of grand jury material by both USAOs and court reporting firms. We also found no consistency among USAOs in securing grand jury material relating to closed cases and determined that there were no guidelines that address disposal of this material.

We concluded that USAOs should provide better oversight for grand jury reporter personnel security clearances and that Department regulations for securing grand jury material and obtaining clearances for private grand jury court reporter personnel need clarification.

Review of Security Clearances for Contractor Employees in the FBI

Our inspection assessed the management controls that ensure only contractor employees who receive proper background investigations and clearances are given access to National Security Information (NSI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) facilities. We also reviewed FBI's use of the Defense Investigative Service (DIS) to conduct background investigations for employees of FBI contractors.

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Significant Inspections

We found that some contractor employees were shown in the system as approved for access to NSI or FBI facilities after their work on an FBI contract had terminated—in some instances between one and six years earlier. We believe FBI will reduce its vulnerability to unauthorized access to NSI and FBI facilities by adding expiration dates for security clearances to the automated information system used to track employment and security status of all individuals working with or under contract to FBI.

We also found that FBI did not fully utilize its agreement with DIS to conduct a specified number of background investigations for employees of FBI contractors. The DIS will conduct NSI clearance background investigations for FBI contractor employees at no cost to FBI. If the agreement had been fully utilized in FY 1995, FBI could have sent an additional 461 NSI background investigations to DIS, thus reducing the workload of FBI special agents conducting NSI background investigations by 29 percent. We believe FBI will achieve further workload reductions by revising the agreement with DIS to turn over responsibility for conducting all contractor NSI background investigations because DIS has indicated they could accommodate the increased workload.

Overall, we concluded that FBI has control procedures in place that, if followed, should ensure contract employees receive proper background investigations and clearances.

Other Activities

The Inspections Division also performs special inquiries, which are generally initiated at the request of senior Department Management or by the Congress, and investigates complaints concerning mismanagement, waste, or abuse. During the past six months, completed activities included:

  Inspectors reviewed allegations of excessive expenditures made with Government funds for an official Department ceremony. We concluded the allegation was unsubstantiated.

  In response to a congressional request, we reviewed the Bureau of Prison's (BOP) telemedicine initiatives to use telecommunication technologies to provide medical information and services to inmates at geographically removed locations. We reported to Congress that BOP and the Department of Defense signed a 5-year Memorandum of Understanding for joint development of telemedicine technology and systems and that BOP will conduct a health care privatization project at the Federal Correctional Institution in Beaumont, Texas. The project includes the use of contracts to provide all medical care for inmates, including telemedicine services.

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Inspections Statistics

Inspections Workload Accomplishments Number of
Inspections active at beginning of period 11
Inspections initiated 6
Final inspection reports issued 5
Inspections active at end of reporting period 12