Federal Law Enforcement:

Survey of Federal Civilian Law Enforcement Functions and Authorities

GAO-07-121: Published: Dec 19, 2006. Publicly Released: Dec 19, 2006.

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Eileen R. Larence
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Law enforcement officers (LEOs) within the federal government play a key role in maintaining the safety and security of federal property, employees, and the general public. In this report, we describe the number of LEOs that federal civilian law enforcement components employed as of June 30, 2006; the federal job series classifications the components used to employ LEOs; and the sources of their primary legal authorities. To identify federal components that employ LEOs, we consulted, among other sources, the Federal Citizen Information Center's Cabinet Agencies and Independent Agencies and Commissions Directory; a list of organizations included in the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) 2004-2005 List of Agencies Trained at FLETC; and federal agencies listed in Federal Law Enforcement Officers, 2002, published by the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). We identified 104 federal civilian law enforcement components and administered two Web-based surveys to each--one survey on the primary authorities and the other survey on the job series classifications. We defined an LEO as an individual authorized to perform any of four specific functions: (1) conduct criminal investigations, (2) execute search warrants, (3) make arrests, or (4) carry firearms.

The 104 federal components we surveyed reported a total of 137,929 LEOs as of June 30, 2006, who were authorized to perform at least one of 4 specified law enforcement functions. These 104 components operate within 14 departments and 28 nondepartmental entities. Seven of the 104 components account for 93,263 (68 percent) of all LEOs. Six of these 7 components are within the Department of Justice (DOJ) or Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DOJ and DHS accounted for 108,324 (79 percent) of the total civilian LEOs--58,489 and 49,835 respectively. The components reported using 211 different job series classifications or titles for their LEOs. They also reported employing 121,821 LEOs under 188 Office of Personnel Management (OPM) job series classifications and 16,108 LEOs under 23 non-OPM job series or titles. The most widely used OPM job series is the 1811 criminal investigator series used by 71 different LEO components. The next three job series with the largest number of LEOs were the 1895 Customs and Border Protection officer series, the 0007 correctional officer series, and 1896 Border Patrol agent series. All of the components cited federal statutes as a primary source of their authorities to perform law enforcement functions. Additionally, 40 components reported federal regulations, rules, or procedures as primary sources of authority. Other sources included memorandums of understanding, presidential directives, internal directives and orders, and delegation of authority from other federal agencies. We provided a draft of this report to the 104 components included in the survey for comment. We received a number of technical comments, which we incorporated in the report where appropriate.

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