Fish and Wildlife Service Is Incurring Unnecessary Costs for Property Forfeited or Voluntarily Abandoned at Ports of Entry

B-196758: Published: Dec 6, 1979. Publicly Released: Dec 6, 1979.

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GAO reviewed the Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) procedures for disposing of property which is forfeited or abandoned because of a lack of a permit or documentation required for its import into the United States. This property includes some live endangered species and other restricted items.

FWS was incurring unnecessary costs at ports of entry because policies and procedures had not been implemented for the disposal of abandoned and forfeited property as provided for by law. In June 1979, proposed regulations for implementing the disposal of property were drafted by FWS. However, no action has been taken on the proposed regulations. Under the proposal, no item would be stored for more than 1 year. Implementation of the proposal procedures would significantly reduce the inventory of abandoned and forfeited property with a corresponding decrease in the storage facilities required. In addition, U.S. Customs Service officials have stated that they could store some items, especially if they were to be disposed of within a year. Although use of Customs facilities would further reduce FWS costs, this possibility had not been explored or discussed. Security and accountability procedures were inadequate. Procedures have not been established to require minimum security standards for storage facilities, uniform accountability for seized personal property, or annual accountability reviews. As a result, merchandise has disappeared from FWS storage facilities.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should implement regulations or guidelines setting forth the procedures for the disposal of property voluntarily abandoned or forfeited at ports of entry. She should enter into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Customs Service to utilize existing storage facilities where available. Finally, the Director should establish policies and procedures to require (1) minimum security standards for physical storage facilities similar to those mandated by Customs, (2) uniform accountability for seized personal property, and (3) periodic physical inventories of stored items.

    Agency Affected:


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