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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed two Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) law enforcement operations, focusing on their management of: (1) a confidential fund BIA used to pay informants; (2) overtime pay; (3) travel advances; and (4) sensitive equipment.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of the Interior 1. To comply with legal requirements and to ensure appropriate control over, and use of, confidential funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to close all existing private bank accounts where confidential funds are being maintained.
Closed - Implemented
The agency has closed the accounts and transferred the funds to the Treasury.
Department of the Interior 2. To comply with legal requirements and to ensure appropriate control over, and use of, confidential funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to determine the unobligated balance of all confidential funds at the end of fiscal years 1986 through 1990, including interest earned, and return that balance to the Treasury.
Closed - Implemented
The unobligated end-of-year and interest balances were determined and funds were returned to the Treasury.
Department of the Interior 3. To comply with legal requirements and to ensure appropriate control over and use of confidential funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to take the necessary steps to ensure that BIA management of confidential funds complies with Interior's current legal authority, BIA procedures, and the Comptroller General's Standards for Internal Controls in the Federal Government. To continue use of confidential funds, BIA might establish an imprest fund.
Closed - Implemented
The BIA Division of Law Enforcement Services has not distributed any confidential funds since the confidential fund account was closed. In addition, confidential fund procedures are now a part of an attempt to update the BIA Law and Order Manual and the Departmental Law Enforcement Manual.1
Department of the Interior 4. To ensure proper payment of AUO to BIA Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and Marijuana Eradication and Reconnaissance Team (MERT) criminal investigators, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to review the amount of AUO pay being provided and, for AUO pay previously provided, identify and take action to recover any improper payment.
Closed - Implemented
AUO amounts being paid have been reviewed, and AUO pay has been terminated. No actions have been taken on recovery of improper payments because a decision on improper payments is not possible due to documentation limitations. Interior plans no further action.
Department of the Interior 5. To ensure proper payment of AUO to BIA SIU and MERT criminal investigators, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to take the necessary steps to ensure that investigators maintain proper records of overtime worked.
Closed - Not Implemented
Investigators are paid regular overtime rather than AUO, and recordkeeping requirements are enforced.
Department of the Interior 6. To ensure proper authorization of quarterly travel for investigators and appropriate travel advances, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to take immediate action to liquidate outstanding travel advances provided to SIU investigators.
Closed - Implemented
SIU travel advances have been liquidated.
Department of the Interior 7. To ensure proper authorization of quarterly travel for investigators and appropriate travel advances, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary to take immediate action to ensure compliance with federal travel regulations concerning travel advances.
Closed - Implemented
Travel training has been developed and provided in refresher courses for law enforcement personnel.
Department of the Interior 8. To ensure effective management of, and control over, sensitive equipment at SIU and MERT, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary to prepare a current and accurate reconciliation of sensitive equipment under SIU and MERT control and determine the physical location of the five items of sensitive equipment that could not be accounted for during the GAO review.
Closed - Implemented
The agency performed reconciliations at the two special units and all missing items have been located.
Department of the Interior 9. To ensure effective management of, and control over, sensitive equipment at SIU and MERT, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary to take action to ensure that SIU and MERT staff comply with departmental regulations regarding the use of, and physical control over, surveillance equipment.
Closed - Implemented
Surveillance equipment use is controlled and reported in accordance with Departmental regulations.
Department of the Interior 10. Given the nature of the problems found at SIU and MERT and their potential to occur elsewhere, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to review the confidential funds, travel advances, overtime pay, and controls over sensitive equipment at other BIA law enforcement units to determine whether similar problems exist and, if so, to take corrective action.
Closed - Implemented
All area offices closed their confidential funds accounts. In addition, the area offices reviewed their AUO, travel advances, and sensitive equipment.
Department of the Interior 11. To ensure proper authorization of quarterly travel for investigators and appropriate travel advances, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to take immediate action to recover the outstanding travel advance from the SIU investigator who resigned from BIA employment.
Closed - Not Implemented
The agency spent 2 years attempting to file the proper paperwork and collect the funds but it is preparing to write off the amount as uncollectible. Its rationale is based on having to spend more on collection efforts than the amount that would be collected.
Department of the Interior 12. To ensure effective management of, and control over, sensitive equipment at SIU and MERT, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary to take action to ensure compliance with departmental and BIA property management regulations regarding the physical control and storage of sensitive equipment.
Closed - Implemented
All sensitive equipment has been marked, accounted for, and safeguarded in accordance with Departmental and BIA property management regulations.

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