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Justice Department: Better Management Oversight and Internal Controls Needed to Ensure Accuracy of Terrorism-Related Statistics

GAO-03-266 Published: Jan 17, 2003. Publicly Released: Feb 19, 2003.
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In accordance with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, the Department of Justice (DOJ) provides Congress and the public with an annual performance report. These reports serve as an important measure of DOJ's progress related to its strategic goals and objectives, including statistics on its Fiscal Year 2000 Performance Report. We were asked to review the accuracy of DOJ's terrorism-related conviction statistics. Among other objectives, in this report we (1) identify how DOJ develops its terrorism-related conviction statistics and (2) assess whether DOJ has sufficient management oversight and internal controls in place to ensure the accuracy of terrorism-related statistics included in its annual performance reports.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Justice To improve the accuracy and reliability of terrorism-related conviction statistics reported by DOJ in its annual performance reports, the Attorney General, in accordance with federal internal control standards, should implement a formal system to oversee and validate the accuracy of case classification and conviction data entered in the Legal Information On-Line System by the various United States Attorneys Office districts. This system should entail edit checks of data entered into information systems, reconciliation of summary information to verify data completeness, and management review of output reports.
Closed – Implemented
In response to a recommendation we made in 2003 relating to the accuracy of DOJ's case classification system and reporting of terrorism-related conviction data, the Executive Office of U.S. Attorney's (EOUSA) took steps to require all U.S. Attorneys and First Assistant. U.S. Attorneys in all U.S. Attorney districts to oversee and validate the accuracy of case classification and conviction data entered in the Legal Information On-Line System (LIONS) and to reconcile summary information for data completeness prior to submission to EOUSA. Specifically, in April 2003 the EOUSA issued a memo to all U.S. Attorneys & First Assistant U.S. Attorneys requiring them to review and update the accuracy of the pending and closed terrorism & anti-terrorism-related matters and cases, including a review of each data element and program category codes displayed on the report per matter or case to ensure that the data is accurate and up to date. Additional requirements were put in place requiring the U.S. Attorney districts to periodically conduct such reviews. This was evident by the inclusion of a specific case certification requirement included in the United States Attorneys' Procedure (USAP) 3-16.130.001(M) on October 22, 2004, as well as copies of memorandums issued to USAOs in 2004 & 2005 requiring them to complete case certifications. The EOUSA has also scheduled a training session for its Docket clerks from October 31-November 2, 2006, that will address the requirements for entering data on terrorism/anti-terrorism-related matters/cases in LIONS. To address the limited entry validation checks for cases currently entered in LIONS, EOUSA plans to replace LIONS with a future enterprise-wide case management system that will strengthen and allow entry validation.

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ConvictionsInternal controlsTerrorismStatistical dataReporting requirementsData integrityStrategic planningEmbassy managementDefendantsDomestic terrorism