Costs of FBI Undercover Operations

GGD-83-51: Published: Mar 7, 1983. Publicly Released: Mar 16, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO determined the costs, both direct and indirect, associated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) undercover operations.

GAO could not obtain access to certain undercover cost and investigative data that FBI officials considered sensitive. Consequently, GAO could not determine the total cost of undercover operations, nor could it independently verify the accuracy of the cost data provided by FBI. GAO believes that even with complete access to FBI data, determining the total cost of undercover operations would have been difficult. During fiscal years 1979 through 1981, FBI spent about $10.8 million which is identifiable as undercover operations expenses. However, personnel salaries and the costs of litigation and settlement of lawsuits resulting from undercover operations are not included in this figure. As of December 31, 1982, the Government had to pay settlements on only one operation and these totaled about $1.1 million. The settlement costs from that operation resulted from an agreement between the Attorney General and a third-party corporation which was completed after the undercover operation was over. GAO stated that the guidelines the FBI has established to control funding for undercover operations appear to conform to its GAO-approved accounting system design. However, the limited access to detailed cost information impeded an assessment of how effectively the guidelines are implemented.

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