Justice Needs Better Controls Over Payment of Witness Fees

GGD-84-61: Published: Jul 12, 1984. Publicly Released: Jul 12, 1984.

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GAO reviewed how three U.S. attorney's offices and three U.S. Marshals Service offices manage the use of and payments to fact witnesses and to experts who testify at trials or in nontrial activities.

GAO found that the Department of Justice is not following its policy regarding the approved use of and payments to fact witnesses, and U.S. Marshals offices are processing fact witness payments without proper certification. Further, payments to some expert witnesses are not in compliance with Justice guidelines. Regarding expert consultants who assist with nontrial activities, no clear Justice guidance exists to help U.S. attorneys and marshals in calculating their compensation.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice prepared an order on incurring and paying fact witnesses to ensure payments are accurate and comply with Justice guidelines.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should require personnel of the U.S. attorney's and U.S. marshals offices to make supervisory reviews of payments to fact witnesses to ensure they are accurate and comply with Justice guidelines.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice prepared an order dealing with negotiating fees and making payments to consultants, in general. The guidance should be applicable to experts in nontrial activities.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should emphasize the need to comply with approval and payment policies by directing U.S. attorney's and U.S. marshals offices personnel that fees paid to experts used for nontrial purposes must be in compliance with Justice policies once they are promulgated.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice prepared an order directing components that expert witnesses must be paid by the Justice Management Division.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should emphasize the need to comply with approval and payment policies by directing U.S. attorney's and U.S. marshals offices personnel that expert witnesses must be paid only by the Justice Management Division.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice prepared an order requiring departmental approval before obtaining the services of witnesses.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should emphasize the need to comply with approval and payment policies by directing U.S. attorney's and U.S. marshals offices personnel that departmental approval must be obtained prior to obtaining the services of expert witnesses.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice prepared an order on incurring and paying certain witness fees and expenses, and changed its payment forms to require certifying officer approval.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should emphasize the need to comply with approval and payment policies by directing U.S. attorney's and U.S. marshals offices personnel that all fact witness claims must be properly completed before payments are made and must include approved certifying signatures.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice prepared an order dealing with negotiating fees and making payments to consultants, in general. The guidance should be applicable to experts used in nontrial activities.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Justice Management Division to develop guidance for U.S. attorneys and marshals to use in negotiating fees and making payments to experts who are used in nontrial activities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice prepared an order on notifying fact witnesses of entitlements and informing them that they should complete needed travel forms.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should require personnel of the U.S. attorney's and U.S. marshals offices to routinely notify fact witnesses of their entitlements and provide each of them a copy of Justice Form OBD-2 before they make their travel arrangements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

 

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