Employee Misconduct:

Justice Should Clearly Document Investigative Actions

GGD-92-31: Published: Feb 7, 1992. Publicly Released: Mar 9, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the operations of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), focusing on the: (1) contents of OPR case files; and (2) quality of OPR investigations.

GAO found that: (1) OPR investigates allegations of criminal and ethical misconduct against DOJ employees, including such offenses as drug use, assault, improper disclosure of grand jury information, and improper acceptance of gratuities; (2) of the 411 cases OPR investigated, it substantiated the allegations in 9 percent of the cases, could not substantiate the allegations in 67 percent of the cases, and closed 24 percent of the cases without completing its investigation; (3) half of the 411 cases involved allegations against officials in U.S. Attorneys' offices, 24 percent involved DOJ division employees, and 15 percent involved DOJ component employees; (4) of the 50 cases reviewed that OPR monitored, allegations were substantiated in whole or in part in 9 cases, allegations were not substantiated in 25 cases, and OPR closed 16 cases; (5) since OPR does not require extensive case file documentation, the degree of documentation in OPR case files varies widely; and (6) OPR does not always follow all investigative leads.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPR has developed and internally published standards for conducting investigations.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Counsel, OPR, to establish basic standards for conducting OPR investigations. These standards could be adapted from procedures used by other DOJ units.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPR is applying the standards it developed and documenting its case files accordingly.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Counsel, OPR, to establish standards for case documentation, including requirements for the contents of each case file such as a listing of potential interview subjects in the case, a chronology of actions taken, and a rationale for actions taken or not taken and for decisions reached.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPR agreed to identify systemic problems.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Counsel, OPR, to, as appropriate, review the case files to identify any possible systemic changes that might be needed to DOJ procedures and operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPR is applying standards it developed and when appropriate, is documenting its files with information on disciplinary action taken. However, OPR has no plans to follow up on action taken by others.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Counsel, OPR, to follow up more consistently on the results of misconduct investigations done by other units and what disciplinary actions, if any, were taken as a result of all misconduct investigations, both those done by OPR attorneys and those done by other units within DOJ. This information should be made part of the files.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

 

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