BATF:

Management Improvements Needed to Handle Increasing Responsibilities

GGD-91-67: Published: Mar 19, 1991. Publicly Released: Mar 19, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed various management improvements that would help the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) handle its growing compliance and law enforcement responsibilities.

GAO found that: (1) BATF law enforcement activities significantly increased with its assumption of several new compliance duties from other federal agencies, including collecting special occupation, firearm, and excise taxes, and testing alcoholic beverages in response to consumer complaints; (2) those additional duties caused BATF to make trade-offs in deciding how to most effectively utilize its staff; (3) such trade-offs resulted in a reduced number of tax compliance inspections of alcohol producers and investigations into financial aspects of arson-for-profit cases; (4) BATF could increase the amount of accounting expertise within its inspector work force that would help minimize the detrimental effects of such trade-offs on its tax compliance mission; and (5) other actions that BATF could take to efficiently utilize its resources included developing standardized work plans, analyzing more comprehensive data regarding its alcohol testing program, and developing better performance data.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Action was completed on November 4, 1991. BATF developed an Integrated Compliance System to provide enhanced ability to monitor taxpayer performance and target accounts with the highest potential for additional revenues.

    Recommendation: The Director, BATF, should ensure that BATF periodically measures the extent of compliance with the excise taxes for which it is responsible.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Action was completed on November 4, 1991. BATF stated that corrective actions are continual. BATF has taken actions it believes will provide improved data for measuring quality, timeliness, and efficiency.

    Recommendation: The Director, BATF, should ensure that BATF develops a more comprehensive performance measurement system for the compliance operations that includes measures of quality, timeliness, and efficiency.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: One specialist from Compliance Operation's Industry Compliance Division (ICD) has a personal computer set up to receive and analyze laboratory data. Managers have agreed to the availability of the lab analysis database to ICD. Action was completed on October 1, 1991.

    Recommendation: The Director, BATF, should ensure that BATF corrects the problems impeding the use of laboratory data in the market basket sampling program and, once this database is available, develop a management information system to target products for inclusion in the test samples.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Completed July 1, 1992. BATF developed and issued standard work plans for distilled spirits plants, wineries, and tobacco plants. It had developed a standard work plan for breweries in 1991.

    Recommendation: The Director, BATF, should ensure that BATF develops a series of standard work plans for the various types of compliance inspections.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: BATF equates two internal training courses with six college-level credit hours. BATF believes this policy, in combination with the fact that 61 percent of its inspectors have at least 6 hours of accounting, is sufficient.

    Recommendation: The Director, BATF, should ensure that BATF increases the availability of accounting expertise for use on tax compliance inspections. Options BATF might consider include requiring that inspectors have at least 12 hours of college-level accounting credits before being eligible for promotion to journeyman level or changing its inspector/auditor staffing mix by hiring auditors to fill vacated inspector positions.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Action was completed July 11, 1991. BATF continues to use its Crime Impact Program (CIP) for case management and performance measurement. BATF believes that involvement of management through CIP ensures accurate performance measurement and case quality.

    Recommendation: The Director, BATF, should ensure that BATF develops a more comprehensive performance measurement system for law enforcement. This system should include measures of efficiency, timeliness, and quality.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

 

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