Views and Recommendations on S. 381

B-202571: Published: Jun 29, 1981. Publicly Released: Jun 29, 1981.

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Legislation has been proposed to establish an Office of Audit and an Office of Professional Responsibility within the Department of Justice. The bill is inconsistent with existing Inspector General legislation and contains several serious weaknesses. Since Justice already has an Office of Audit and an Office of Professional Responsibility, the primary purpose of the bill appears to be to grant Justice statutory authority to maintain the status quo of existing auditing and investigative entities in lieu of creating a statutory Inspector General within Justice similar to those in other federal agencies. GAO believes that the bill's provision to keep Department of Justice audit and investigative functions under separate and distinct organizational entities will hamper coordination between these interrelated activities. Contrary to the basic thrust of earlier Inspector General legislation which consolidates agency internal audit and investigative units, the bill sanctions the continuation of the Department's existing fragmented approach to internal audit and investigative functions. GAO believes that, if a separate investigative unit is established by law, the head of that unit should be under the general supervision and direction of and report directly to the Attorney General to ensure independence in carrying out the investigative functions of the office. While the bill makes the Counsel for the Office of Professional Responsibility responsible for conducting or initiating investigations of allegations concerning the conduct of Justice personnel, it is silent as to which organizational activity will be responsible for investigating allegations against other parties participating in various Justice programs.

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