Improved Management Processes Would Enhance Justice's Operations

GGD-86-12: Published: Mar 14, 1986. Publicly Released: Mar 14, 1986.

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GAO reviewed the Department of Justice's management structure and management support systems to assess how departmentwide management support functions assist the Attorney General in directing and overseeing Justice's operations.

GAO found that Justice needs: (1) an institutional process for developing long-range departmental goals to guide its program planning and budgeting decisions; (2) an established means for overseeing program planning to ensure that the Attorney General's priorities are adequately addressed; (3) to clarify responsibilities for overseeing debt collection activities; and (4) a departmentwide program to ensure that automatic data processing (ADP) and telecommunications techniques are planned, acquired, and used effectively and economically. GAO also found that: (1) a stronger information resources management (IRM) system could have helped Justice's development of a litigative case management system to provide basic program data; (2) Justice financial management systems do not properly account for and control resources or permit adequate monitoring of program performance; and (3) Justice could use different processes for assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations, specifically, audit and evaluation, position management reviews, and productivity management.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice provided formal guidance to the components. Component heads participated with the Attorney General in developing strategic program priorities which were communicated in the budget guidance. The Comptroller, JMD, led an integrated assessment of component budgets. Through DRB, Justice provided timely budget guidance to the components and worked to integrate budget and management issues.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should improve the budget formulation process by providing more timely and detailed Attorney General Policy Program guidance to components and assigning Justice's budget staff the explicit responsibility of ensuring that the components' budgets are integrated and mutually supporting.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice developed an AIS plan, approved by the Attorney General in January 1987. Through DRB and the budget process, component adherence to the plan is monitored.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should develop a plan for managing Justice's information resources. To ensure successful plan development and implementation, the senior official responsible for IRM should be experienced in the planning and program coordination of IRM and clearly possess the authority to direct component actions on ADP and telecommunications activities in order to ensure that component plans, budgets, and activities conform with established goals and the departmental plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice's financial management plan, sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), is being implemented. Justice implemented a financial management system in October 1988. However, because of budget constraints and changes in OMB requirements, the system will not integrate the financial activities of INS, DEA, and FBI into an integrated financial management system.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should provide priority and sustained attention to implementing the departmental financial management plan and developing a departmentwide integrated financial management system that will provide the cost information needed to: (1) control funds expended on programs; and (2) support Justice's policy and program monitoring planning system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Deputy Attorney General directed that several reviews be made of major management issues within Justice to provide a basis for decisionmaking. The Inspector General is now responsible for eliminating fragmentation and coordinating reviews.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should emphasize the use of program effectiveness reviews to provide policy officials with independent assessments of the effectiveness and efficiency of program implementation on which to base decisions to continue or alter policy decisions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A comprehensive productivity plan was developed. Plans now call for 70 percent of Justice's full time employees to be covered by productivity measures. In order to meet this 70-percent goal, the Department needs to obtain coverage of its investigative agencies.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should ensure the effective implementation of the Management and Productivity Improvement Program. This effort will require that: (1) the components develop specific productivity performance component goals, as well as the measures needed to assess performance; (2) the program become an integral part of the overall Justice planning and budgeting process; and (3) Justice's focal point for the program effectively oversees the components' productivity improvement, disseminates information on good practices and efforts, and ensures that effective accountability mechanisms and incentives are in place for identifying productivity opportunities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A departmentwide position management program was established by an Attorney General memorandum on April 21, 1986. However, components will not be required to conduct position management reviews.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should ensure greater utilization of position management reviews by the components so that opportunities to achieve staffing efficiencies are identified.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A Justice Senior Executive Service (SES) performance management plan was approved by the Office of Personnel Management in November 1986. JMD required components to submit revised SES work plans for review prior to implementation on July 1, 1987.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should use the senior executive performance planning and appraisal process to fix accountability for accomplishing organizational goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Action was hampered by limited budget resources. Implementation of the plan is being monitored through milestones in the management and productivity improvement plan.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should establish milestones for completing specific tasks needed for implementing the financial management plan and ensure that the milestones are strictly adhered to.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GAO reviewed Justice's plan favorably. The financial management system is not being fully integrated.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should ensure that a primary objective of each system enhancement effort conforms to the system, when implemented, and with the Comptroller General's accounting principles, standards, and related requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  10. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: INS scrapped implementation plans for a debt collection system because components could not decide which system met their needs.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should ensure that an effective system is developed to assist the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) Office of the General Counsel (OGC) in its debt collection efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice problems with accounts receivable have been corrected via institution of several procedural changes for intragovernmental reimbursable agreements. An independent contractor has since performed an assessment of the Working Capital Fund and rendered an unqualified clean opinion on its financial position and operations.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should ensure that appropriate internal controls and procedures are implemented so that the Working Capital Fund recovers all costs incurred and thereby precludes the need to write off future accounts receivable.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: LNRD, in cooperation with JMD audit and finance staffs and the Environmental Protection Agency, revised its procedures to ensure that costs are charged in accordance with government accounting standards. LNRD also completed a study of the attorney time system and audited costs incurred in each case to further improve the accuracy of Superfund bills.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should ensure that the Land and Natural Resources Division (LNRD) establishes a means to ensure that all future billings against Superfund are based on actual costs incurred.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  13. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A consolidated reporting system has been developed for legal process debts. The reporting requirements were designed to call for information that will support future general ledger processing. Justice's financial management system records legal process debts in Justice's general ledger.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should ensure that affirmative litigation collections are recorded in Justice's general ledger.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  14. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Accountability for these assets is a major feature of Justice's financial management plan. These assets are accounted for in the financial management system.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should ensure that an effective departmentwide system is developed to account for total seizures and forfeitures.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  15. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This issue was under active review by Justice, but dialogue between Justice's Procurement Executive and FBI resulted in a decision to maintain the status quo.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should rescind the exclusion of proposed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) contracts from departmental review.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  16. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice created the Department Resources Board (DRB) to serve as the Attorney General's strategic management team. The activities of DRB have been placed on hold until the Attorney General makes a decision regarding the organization of the Department and responsibilities of key members of the management team.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should create a policy-level capability for: (1) coordinating the development of strategic long-range goals to provide direction to Justice; (2) overseeing component program planning and budgeting to ensure compliance with the goals; and (3) monitoring program implementation to ensure that policy goals are achieved within the parameters of approved program and financial plans.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  17. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Justice developed a reorganization proposal in May 1987, which would establish a second Associate Attorney General position, freeing the Deputy to be a full-time operational officer. Justice requested congressional approval for this action. However, the reorganization was not approved.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should clearly establish the responsibility for operating the processes and systems necessary to support the implementation of an integrated management system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

 

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