Federal Law Enforcement:

Investigative Authority and Personnel at 32 Organizations

GGD-97-93: Published: Jul 22, 1997. Publicly Released: Jul 22, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on federal organizations employing from 25 to 699 law enforcement investigative personnel, focusing on: (1) the types of violations that these organizations investigate; (2) the authorities under which these organizations investigate suspected federal criminal law violations, execute search warrants, make arrests, and/or carry firearms; (3) the number of law enforcement investigative personnel in these organizations as of September 30, 1996, and the number of these personnel who were authorized to execute search warrants, make arrests, and/or carry firearms; and (4) how the number of law enforcement investigative personnel in these organizations has changed since the end of fiscal year (FY) 1987. GAO did not independently verify the accuracy of the information provided by the organizations or obtained from the Central Personnel Data File (CPDF).

GAO noted that: (1) GAO analyzed data maintained by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in its CPDF and surveyed federal organizations employing from 25 to 699 law enforcement investigative personnel; (2) on the basis of this information, GAO determined that employees meeting its definition of law enforcement investigative personnel were located in 32 organizations; (3) twenty of these federal organizations are Offices of Inspector General, whose responsibilities include criminal investigations; (4) the remaining 12 federal organizations are responsible for investigating a variety of criminal violations; (5) these 32 organizations reported that they investigate a variety of suspected criminal violations, ranging from food stamp trafficking to Social Security fraud, and that they derive their authority primarily from statutory provisions set out in the U.S. Code; (6) in addition, the 32 organizations reported that at the end of FY 1996, they employed 4,262 law enforcement investigative personnel; (7) of these law enforcement investigative personnel, they reported that 4,007 (about 94 percent) were authorized to execute search warrants, make arrests, and carry firearms; (8) between the ends of fiscal years 1987 and 1996, CPDF data show the number of law enforcement investigative personnel at the 32 organizations increased about 70 percent, overall; (9) most of this increase was caused by growth in the numbers of law enforcement investigative personnel at 18 of the organizations; (10) also, some of the increase was caused by the establishment of four of the federal organizations after FY 1987; (11) the remainder of the increase was the result of changes that caused personnel in four existing organizations to meet GAO criteria for inclusion after FY 1987; (12) specifically, in three of these four organizations, the increase occurred because some existing employees became covered by the law enforcement retirement system; and (13) the fourth organization reclassified the positions of its existing employees into one of the investigative occupational series used in the report.

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