Asset Forfeiture Programs:

Progress and Problems

T-GGD-88-41: Published: Jun 23, 1988. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Department of Justice's (DOJ) and Customs Service's asset forfeiture programs. GAO found that the agencies took actions to resolve program problems, including: (1) requiring headquarters approval to hold cash seizures of $5,000 or more as evidence; (2) making timely cash deposits, resulting in current deposits totalling $232 million in designated accounts; (3) quickly removing deteriorating vessels stored on the Miami River and disposing of seized vessels; and (4) strengthening controls over agency use of forfeited property. GAO also found that Congress: (1) limited DOJ fund disbursements; and (2) authorized the transfer of surplus funds for prison construction at the end of fiscal year 1988. In addition, GAO found that: (1) DOJ headquarters approved only $5 million of the $75 million that the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Customs held as evidence in June 1988; (2) DOJ had not revised its economic criteria for seizing real property and identifying projected net return for its inventory; and (3) Customs had not brought its Forfeiture Fund accounting and reporting into compliance with the Comptroller General's standards.

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