Over the last 10 years, the cost to confine federal Bureau of Prison (BOP) inmates in non-BOP facilities has nearly tripled from about $250 million in fiscal year 1996 to about $700 million in fiscal year 2006. Proponents of using contractors to operate prisons claim it can save money; others question whether contracting is a cost-effective alternative. In response to Conference Report 109-272, accompanying Pub. L. No. 109-108 (2005), this report discusses the feasibility and implications of comparing the costs for confining federal inmates in low and minimum security BOP facilities with those managed by private firms for BOP. GAO reviewed available data on a selection of 34 low and minimum security facilities; related laws, regulations, and documents; and interviewed BOP and contract officials.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Bureau of Prisons||1. To help Bureau of Prisons (BOP) evaluate alternatives for confining inmates in low and minimum security facilities, and recognizing that there is a cost associated with gathering and analyzing data needed to compare costs across BOP and private facilities, the Attorney General should direct the Director of BOP to develop a cost-effective way to collect comparative data on low and minimum security facilities confining inmates under BOP's custody and design and conduct methodologically sound analyses that compare the costs of confining inmates in these facilities in order to consider contracting among other alternatives for low and minimum security confinement, consistent with Office of Management and Budget requirements.|