Indian Programs:

Lack of Internal Control at Two Special Law Enforcement Units

RCED-91-111: Published: May 15, 1991. Publicly Released: May 15, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed two Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) law enforcement operations, focusing on their management of: (1) a confidential fund BIA used to pay informants; (2) overtime pay; (3) travel advances; and (4) sensitive equipment.

GAO found that BIA: (1) did not comply with federal requirements regarding controls over appropriated funds and did not follow numerous management procedures; (2) improperly transferred funds to private bank accounts and did not return unobligated funds to the Department of the Treasury at the end of each fiscal year, as required; (3) did not adequately account for and control fund disbursements; (4) did not comply with federal regulations requiring periodic reviews of administratively uncontrollable overtime (AUO) it paid to units and employees; (5) issued excessive travel advances to unit investigators and did not adjust or liquidate the advances, as regulations required; and (6) did not properly control sensitive equipment, such as weapons and surveillance equipment.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The agency has closed the accounts and transferred the funds to the Treasury.

    Recommendation: To comply with legal requirements and to ensure appropriate control over, and use of, confidential funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to close all existing private bank accounts where confidential funds are being maintained.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The unobligated end-of-year and interest balances were determined and funds were returned to the Treasury.

    Recommendation: To comply with legal requirements and to ensure appropriate control over, and use of, confidential funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to determine the unobligated balance of all confidential funds at the end of fiscal years 1986 through 1990, including interest earned, and return that balance to the Treasury.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The BIA Division of Law Enforcement Services has not distributed any confidential funds since the confidential fund account was closed. In addition, confidential fund procedures are now a part of an attempt to update the BIA Law and Order Manual and the Departmental Law Enforcement Manual.1

    Recommendation: To comply with legal requirements and to ensure appropriate control over and use of confidential funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to take the necessary steps to ensure that BIA management of confidential funds complies with Interior's current legal authority, BIA procedures, and the Comptroller General's Standards for Internal Controls in the Federal Government. To continue use of confidential funds, BIA might establish an imprest fund.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AUO amounts being paid have been reviewed, and AUO pay has been terminated. No actions have been taken on recovery of improper payments because a decision on improper payments is not possible due to documentation limitations. Interior plans no further action.

    Recommendation: To ensure proper payment of AUO to BIA Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and Marijuana Eradication and Reconnaissance Team (MERT) criminal investigators, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to review the amount of AUO pay being provided and, for AUO pay previously provided, identify and take action to recover any improper payment.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Investigators are paid regular overtime rather than AUO, and recordkeeping requirements are enforced.

    Recommendation: To ensure proper payment of AUO to BIA SIU and MERT criminal investigators, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to take the necessary steps to ensure that investigators maintain proper records of overtime worked.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SIU travel advances have been liquidated.

    Recommendation: To ensure proper authorization of quarterly travel for investigators and appropriate travel advances, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to take immediate action to liquidate outstanding travel advances provided to SIU investigators.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Travel training has been developed and provided in refresher courses for law enforcement personnel.

    Recommendation: To ensure proper authorization of quarterly travel for investigators and appropriate travel advances, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary to take immediate action to ensure compliance with federal travel regulations concerning travel advances.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The agency performed reconciliations at the two special units and all missing items have been located.

    Recommendation: To ensure effective management of, and control over, sensitive equipment at SIU and MERT, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary to prepare a current and accurate reconciliation of sensitive equipment under SIU and MERT control and determine the physical location of the five items of sensitive equipment that could not be accounted for during the GAO review.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Surveillance equipment use is controlled and reported in accordance with Departmental regulations.

    Recommendation: To ensure effective management of, and control over, sensitive equipment at SIU and MERT, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary to take action to ensure that SIU and MERT staff comply with departmental regulations regarding the use of, and physical control over, surveillance equipment.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: All area offices closed their confidential funds accounts. In addition, the area offices reviewed their AUO, travel advances, and sensitive equipment.

    Recommendation: Given the nature of the problems found at SIU and MERT and their potential to occur elsewhere, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to review the confidential funds, travel advances, overtime pay, and controls over sensitive equipment at other BIA law enforcement units to determine whether similar problems exist and, if so, to take corrective action.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  11. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The agency spent 2 years attempting to file the proper paperwork and collect the funds but it is preparing to write off the amount as uncollectible. Its rationale is based on having to spend more on collection efforts than the amount that would be collected.

    Recommendation: To ensure proper authorization of quarterly travel for investigators and appropriate travel advances, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to take immediate action to recover the outstanding travel advance from the SIU investigator who resigned from BIA employment.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: All sensitive equipment has been marked, accounted for, and safeguarded in accordance with Departmental and BIA property management regulations.

    Recommendation: To ensure effective management of, and control over, sensitive equipment at SIU and MERT, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary to take action to ensure compliance with departmental and BIA property management regulations regarding the physical control and storage of sensitive equipment.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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