oversight

U.S. Customs Service: Office of Investigations Case Management Problems

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-07-20.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                 United States General Accounting Office

GAO              Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee
                 on Trade, Committee on Ways and
                 Means, House of Representatives


July 1999
                 U.S. CUSTOMS
                 SERVICE
                 Office of
                 Investigations Case
                 Management Problems
                 Continue




GAO/GGD-99-121
United States General Accounting Office                                           General Government Division
Washington, D.C. 20548




                                    B-280367
                                    July 20, 1999

                                    The Honorable Philip M. Crane
                                    Chairman, Subcommittee on Trade
                                    Committee on Ways and Means
                                    House of Representatives

                                    Dear Mr. Chairman:

                                    This report responds to your request of January 15, 1998, that we
                                    determine whether the U.S. Customs Service’s Office of Investigations (OI)
                                    follows its case management policies and procedures. Specifically, for the
                                    two Special Agent in Charge (SAC) offices we visited in New York and
                                    Chicago, we determined whether

                                 • agents were entering statistics in the case management database;
                                 • first-line supervisors were reviewing investigative case files quarterly;
                                 • agents completed reports documenting their opening reports of
                                   investigation on time; and
                                 • the two SAC offices were maintaining and storing their case files
                                   appropriately.


                                    In the New York and Chicago SAC offices, many agents were not entering
Results in Brief                    statistics, such as arrests, seizures, and convictions, in the electronic
                                    management database as required by Customs’ policies and procedures.
                                    Further, many first-line supervisors were not providing evidence of
                                    investigative case file quarterly reviews. Most agents were not completing
                                    opening reports of investigation within 10 days after an investigation was
                                    initiated as required. Also, some investigative case files that we requested
                                    could not be located.

                                    Since 1995, Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs, Management Inspection
                                    Division (MID) reported these same findings repeatedly in their reports
                                    examining individual offices. However, MID did not routinely summarize
                                    the case management problems or make recommendations on how OI
                                    should correct the problems agencywide and prevent them from
                                    happening in the future. We make a recommendation near the end of this
                                    report to address these concerns.




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                         Customs’ mission is to ensure that persons and goods entering and exiting
Background               the United States do so in accordance with U.S. laws and regulations. In
                         1999, Customs was allocated over $2.1 billion in support of over 17,000 full-
                         time positions. Of the Custom’s budget, OI was allocated over $628 million
                         in support of about 4,800 full-time positions. OI is responsible for
                         investigations and intelligence and has shared responsibility with the
                         Office of Field Operations for antismuggling activities. Most Customs
                         employees work in the area of either field operations (64 percent) or
                         investigations (23 percent). OI’s organizational structure includes 20 SAC
                         offices, more than 100 smaller offices, 14 air branches, various marine
                         interdiction units, and 23 foreign attaché offices.

                         OI’s primary investigative programs include trade fraud, narcotics,
                         outbound and strategic trade, financial and money laundering, and child
                         pornography. Internal case management policies and procedures provide
                         the framework upon which these enforcement activities are to be built.

                         MID’s mission is to provide Customs’ executive management with the
                         independent information necessary to gauge the effectiveness and
                         efficiency of managers, operations, priority programs, and special interest
                         initiatives. Management inspections are to accomplish this mission
                         through (1) research and analysis of information, (2) comprehensive
                         inspections, and (3) recommendations and assistance in correcting
                         problems.

                         Our review focused on the management of the investigative case files
Objectives, Scope, and                                                               1
                         closed during the past 3 fiscal years—1996, 1997, and 1998. Using a data
Methodology              collection instrument, we compiled information from the hard-copy files to
                         determine whether they contained the appropriate information, including
                         evidence of supervisory reviews. We also interviewed key officials and
                         reviewed information from the electronic case management database,
                         which is a part of the Treasury Enforcement Communications System. We
                         reviewed a random sample of hard-copy investigative case files at the SAC
                         offices located in New York and Chicago. We selected these two offices
                         because they were two of OI’s largest field offices. We also reviewed
                         excerpts on case management from MID reports on offices nationwide that
                         were issued between October 1995 and September 1998. Our objectives,
                         scope, and methodology are discussed in more detail in appendix I.

                         We performed our work between June 1998 and June 1999 in accordance
                         with generally accepted government auditing standards. We requested
                         1
                             We reviewed case files closed between October 1, 1995, and July 14, 1998.




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                           comments on a draft of this report from the Secretary of the Treasury or
                           his designees. On July 13, 1999, Customs’ Director, Office of Planning,
                           forwarded to us written responses to this letter from Customs’ Assistant
                           Commissioners for (1) OI and (2) the Office of Internal Affairs. Their
                           comments are discussed near the end of this letter and reprinted in
                           appendix II.

                           Case enforcement statistics include initial and final statistics, which are
Agents Did Not Enter       activities and incidents that are attributable to a specific case. Initial
Statistics Into the Case   statistics are to include arrests, indictments, seizures, and penalties issued.
Management Database        Final statistics are to provide the disposition of initial statistics. Final
                           statistics are to include convictions; court-imposed fines; acquittals;
                                                   2
                           dismissals; nolle pros; forfeited, destroyed, or returned seizures; and
                           collected penalties or duties.

                           According to Customs’ policies and procedures, case agents are
                           responsible for the accurate and timely entry of both the initial and final
                           statistics in the case management database. First-line supervisors are to
                           ensure that the personnel they supervise adhere to the policy on statistics
                           through case file reviews. The electronic case management system was
                           designed to prohibit agents from closing cases until final enforcement
                           statistics were reported for all initial enforcement statistics. However, a
                           Customs’ official told us that agents sometimes circumvented the system
                           and closed cases without entering the required final statistics.

                           Of the 81 randomly selected closed cases we reviewed in New York and
                           Chicago, 20 should have had statistics reported in the case management
                           database. As shown in table 1, 19 cases were missing either initial or final
                           statistics or both initial and final statistics, and only 1 case had complete
                           initial and final statistics. On the basis of our sample data, we estimate
                           that for the combined cases closed in New York and Chicago from 1996 to
                           1998, the statistics were incomplete in at least 80 percent of the cases that
                           should have had statistics reported in the electronic case management
                           database. In other words, we estimate that for the combined cases closed
                           in New York and Chicago from 1996 to 1998, the statistics were incomplete
                           in at least 519 of the approximate 649 cases that should have had statistics
                                                                                       3
                           reported in the electronic case management database.


                           2
                           For the purposes of the electronic case management system, nolle pros is a final legal disposition for a
                           defendant where the prosecutor has, at the government’s request, decided to discontinue the
                           prosecution.
                           3
                               A description of our estimation procedures and the confidence intervals are found in appendix I.




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Table 1: Number of Cases With
Incomplete Statistics                                                             Number of cases
                                                          That should                                    Missing
                                                            have had                                  both initial     With
                                                            statistics Missing initial Missing final    and final complete
                                      SAC office             reported statistics only statistics only  statistics statistics
                                      New York                      9              1              6            2          0
                                      Chicago                     11               0              7            3          1
                                      Total                       20               1             13            5          1
                                      Source: GAO review of hard-copy case files and the electronic case management database.


                                      We found that 19 cases had incomplete statistics when we checked the
                                      hard-copy files to the electronic case management database. Arrests and
                                      their final dispositions were missing from the case management database.
                                      From the information entered into the electronic case management
                                      database, it is impossible to determine (1) that 4 arrests were made; (2)
                                      whether 12 arrests and 1 indictment resulted in convictions, court-imposed
                                      fines, acquittals, dismissals, or nolle pros; and (3) that 3 arrests were made
                                      and what their final dispositions were (see table 2).

Table 2: Arrests and Their Final
Dispositions Were Missing From the                                                                 Number of arrests
Electronic Case Management Database                                                                Missing from final
                                                                                                       statistics only
                                                                                  Missing          (e.g., convictions,     Missing from
                                                                              from initial            acquittals, and    both initial and
                                      SAC office                           statistics only                 dismissals)    final statistics
                                      New York                                         4                            7                   0
                                      Chicago                                          0                           5a                   3
                                      Total                                            4                          12                    3
                                      a
                                      The final disposition for one indictment was also missing.
                                      Source: GAO review of hard-copy case files and the electronic case management database.


                                      Additionally, for these same 19 cases, it is impossible to determine from
                                      the electronic case management database whether the following seized
                                      items were forfeited, destroyed, or returned: 17 vehicles; about $1.5
                                      million; over 3 pounds of heroin; 5,070 pounds of cocaine; a semiautomatic
                                      weapon; a paging device; over 250,000 crack pipes; over 800 pounds of
                                      marijuana; archival pottery; and plastic resin valued at over $150,000.
                                      Further, it is impossible to determine from the electronic case
                                      management database that the following items were seized and whether
                                      they were forfeited, destroyed, or returned: office files; one automobile;
                                      over $50,000 in cash; almost 1 pound of heroin; ½ pound of cocaine, and
                                      1,500 pounds of marijuana. (See table 3.)




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Table 3: Seized Items and Their Final
Dispositions Were Missing From the                                                                Seizures
Electronic Case Management Database                                                                                    Missing from both
                                                                                       Missing from final              initial and final
                                                              Missing                  statistics only (e.g.,          statistics (e.g.,
                                                              from initial             forfeited, destroyed, or        forfeited, destroyed,
                                        SAC office            statistics only          returned)                       or returned)
                                        New York              None                     3 cars                          Office files
                                                                                       $1,489,335                      1 car
                                                                                       3.25 pounds of heroin
                                                                                       5,070 pounds of
                                                                                        cocaine
                                                                                       1 semiautomatic weapon
                                                                                       Paging device
                                                                                       253,800 crack pipes

                                        Chicago               None                     0.4 pounds of heroin            $50,098
                                                                                       868 pounds of                   0.8 pounds of heroin
                                                                                        marijuana                      0.5 pounds of cocaine
                                                                                       14 cars                         1,500 pounds of
                                                                                       Archival pottery                 marijuana
                                                                                       109 pounds of plastic
                                                                                        resin valued at
                                                                                        $151,000
                                        Source: GAO review of hard-copy case files and the electronic case management database.


                                        According to Customs’ polices and procedures, the accuracy of the
                                        information contained in the electronic case management database is
                                        critical. Reports that incorporate case enforcement statistics include
                                        Customs’ Annual and Strategic Plans, the Annual Accountability Report,
                                        the annual budget, and other reports prepared in response to requirements
                                        of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.

                                        The Assistant Commissioner for Investigations told us that enforcement
                                        statistics, such as the number of arrests, persons indicted, convictions, and
                                        seizures; the amount of fines and penalties collected; and the quantity of
                                        narcotics seized, are used collectively to evaluate office performance. As a
                                        basis for evaluating the effectiveness of individual offices, a system for
                                        defining the magnitude of threat, or potential for enforcement results, that
                                                                                    4
                                        exists for each office has been developed. OI management believes that
                                        informed decisions pertaining to planning and resource allocation and day-
                                        to-day decisions can be made more efficiently when all factors, including
                                        program priorities, threat levels, and performance, are considered.

                                        4
                                          Enforcement statistics play a major role in defining the magnitude of threat that exists for each OI
                                        office.




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                                         Individual case statistics are used by local managers to supervise cases
                                         and to assess progress. Summary statistics are used to conduct overall
                                         program and productivity analyses.

                                         OI management has proposed the following actions to improve the
                                         accuracy of statistics in the case management database:

                                       • management oversight reviews,
                                       • program changes in the database to make it more difficult to close cases
                                         without final statistics,
                                       • development of a new automated case review function, and
                                       • additional staff training on case management.

                                         According to Customs’ policies and procedures, first-line supervisors must
Supervisors Did Not                      review open investigative cases at least every 3 months. To document
Provide Evidence of                      their reviews, first-line supervisors are to sign and date the hard-copy case
Case File Reviews                        files and provide narrative comments, recommendations, and/or
                                         investigative objectives that will provide the agent with clear guidance and
                                         direction regarding how best to proceed with the investigation.

                                         Of the 81 cases that we reviewed, 36 were open for more than 90 days.
                                         About one-third of the cases that were open for more than 90 days lacked
                                         any evidence of supervisory review. (See table 4.) On the basis of the 81
                                         cases, we estimate that at least 20 percent of the combined cases in New
                                         York and Chicago closed between fiscal years 1996 and 1998 lacked
                                         evidence of supervisory review.

Table 4: Number of Cases That Lacked
Evidence of Supervisory Review                                                             Cases open for more than 90 days
                                                                                                          Lacking    Contained
                                                                                                      evidence of evidence of
                                                                             Total cases     Number supervisory supervisory
                                         SAC office                            reviewed     of cases       review       review
                                         New York                                    34          13            4            9
                                         Chicago                                     47          23            9           14
                                         Total                                       81          36           13           23
                                         Source: GAO review of hard-copy case files.


                                         In the remaining two-thirds of the cases open for more than 90 days, most
                                         (43 of 55) of the supervisory reviews that occurred were not conducted
                                         every 3 months as required by OI policy. (See table 5.) When supervisors
                                         reviewed cases open for at least 90 days, we estimate that at least 69
                                         percent of the reviews were not performed in a timely manner in the




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                                         combined cases for New York and Chicago during the time frame we
                                         reviewed.

Table 5: Number of Supervisory
Reviews Not Completed in a Timely                                                                   Supervisory reviews
Manner                                                                                                   Conducted in a timely manner?
                                         SAC office                                       Total                  No                Yes
                                         New York                                           28                   22                  6
                                         Chicago                                            27                   21                  6
                                         Total                                              55                   43                 12
                                         Source: GAO review of hard-copy case files.


                                         According to Customs’ policies and procedures, it is the responsibility of
                                         the first-line supervisor to ensure that enforcement personnel under their
                                         supervision are conducting investigations in compliance with applicable
                                         policies and procedures. The first-line supervisor is in the best position to
                                         monitor agent activities to ensure adherence to policies and procedures.

                                         A report of investigation is used to document investigative activities and
Agents Did Not                           results of an investigation and to send and report on collateral requests to
Complete Opening                         and from other offices. According to Customs’ policies and procedures,
Reports of                               agents are to complete opening reports of investigation within 10 calendar
                                                                                  5
                                         days after an investigation is initiated.
Investigation on Time
                                         In the 81 cases that we reviewed, 64 of the opening reports of investigation
                                         were not prepared on time. (See table 6.) The median time period to
                                         complete the opening reports of investigation for the cases that we
                                         reviewed was 39 days. Of the combined cases closed in New York and
                                         Chicago from fiscal years 1996 to 1998, we estimate that at least 70 percent
                                         of the opening reports of investigation were not prepared on time.

Table 6: Number of Reports of
Investigation Not Prepared in a Timely                                                 Number of opening reports of investigation
Manner                                                                                    In the cases    Not prepared       Prepared
                                         SAC office                                       we reviewed          on time         on time
                                         New York                                                   34                26             8
                                         Chicago                                                    47                38             9
                                         Total                                                      81                64            17
                                         Source: GAO review of hard-copy case files and the electronic case management database.




                                         5
                                           Customs’ policies and procedures also note that time constraints imposed upon enforcement
                                         personnel by investigative activities could adversely impact agents’ ability to write reports in a timely
                                         manner. It is the primary responsibility of the first-line supervisor to ensure that this balance is
                                         properly maintained.




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                                           According to Customs’ policies and procedures, investigation activities are
                                           to be properly documented in reports of investigation while the event is
                                           clear in the mind of the writer. Well-written reports are critical to the
                                           success of investigations. If investigations are not properly documented, it
                                           is likely to be more difficult to prosecute cases successfully.

                                           According to Customs’ policies and procedures, case files should be kept
New York SAC Did Not                       for 5 years after each case has been closed. Subsequent to the 5-year
Maintain Files                             period, the files should be transferred to the Federal Records Center,
Appropriately                              where they should be retained for a period of 25 years.

                                           While Customs provided all of the case files that we asked to review in
                                           Chicago, it was unable to locate seven cases we initially requested in New
                                           York. Of the seven case files that could not be located, four involved drug
                                           smuggling; two involved fraud; and one involved munitions control. Table
                                           7 shows the other information that we could determine from the case file
                                           numbers of the lost case files.


Table 7: Information on the Seven Case Files That Could Not Be Located in New York
                   Case        Investigative      Investigative         Source of                  Year case     Location (SAC)
SAC office         number      category           subcategory           origin                     opened        case opened
New York             (1)       Drug smuggling     Cocaine               Inspection and control      1996         San Juan
                     (2)       Drug smuggling     Marijuana             Inspection and control      1997         Atlanta
                     (3)       Drug smuggling     Heroin                State/Local enforcement     1994         New York
                     (4)       Drug smuggling     Heroin                OI                          1995         New York
                     (5)       Fraud              Quota (Textiles-      OI                          1993         New York
                                                  Transhipment)
                     (6)       Fraud              Intellectual property Other Customs                1995        New York
                                                  rights                component
                     (7)       Munitions control  Other                 OI                           1994        New York
                                           Source: GAO review of assigned case file numbers.


                                           According to Customs’ policies and procedures, the proper storage of case
                                           files is a critical factor in maintaining the integrity of cases and the viability
                                           of subsequent actions within the criminal justice system. Any document in
                                           the case folder may be used as evidence during judicial proceedings. The
                                           contents of case files may ultimately be disclosed to the defense. If the
                                           contents of the case file have been lost, altered, or otherwise handled
                                           inappropriately, the entire case may be dismissed.

                                           In a combined annual report for fiscal years 1994 and 1995, and in
Our Findings Are                           management inspection and follow-up reports on 62 OI offices that were
Similar to Those                           completed between fiscal years 1995 and 1998, MID reported case
Reported by MID

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  management problems similar to the ones we identified at the Chicago and
  New York offices. MID found that

• quarterly supervisory reviews were not consistently performed or
  documented,
• case files were missing or in disarray,
• reports of investigation were not prepared in a timely manner, and
• statistics were missing from the management database or were entered
  inaccurately.

  In October 1995, MID published a combined annual report for fiscal years
                 6
  1994 and 1995. Regarding OI case management, the report indicated that
  SAC offices were “not complying” with Customs’ policies and procedures.
  The report presented the following summary of findings from its
  inspections of five SAC offices, one regional office, and six district offices
                       7
  during those 2 years:

• Investigative cases were not being managed from either an operational or
  administrative perspective.
• Quarterly supervisory case reviews were not consistently performed
  and/or documented.
• Case files were incomplete.
• Insufficient and inconsistent supervision resulted in erosion of the mission
  focus and inattention to case management, including the equitable
  distribution of case assignments.

  In the combined annual report, MID also said that the case management
  problems occurred, for the most part, because supervisors viewed the case
  management system as (1) unwieldy and (2) duplicative of records and
  requirements that had been automated. Although MID concluded that OI
  should focus on the problems raised by chronic noncompliance, it made
  no formal recommendations to OI regarding the case management system
  and OI’s oversight of SAC compliance with requirements.

  Between fiscal years 1995 and 1998, MID issued 62 management inspection
  reports on various OI offices around the world. Our review of sections of
  these reports showed that MID found case management problems at 35 of
  the offices, which are similar to our findings.
  6
  MID officials told us that they also conducted a trend analysis of their 1996 management inspections;
  however, they were unable to locate a copy of the report.
  7
  On October 1, 1995, Customs closed its 7 regional and 42 district offices and replaced them with 20
  Customs Management Centers.




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              • Case files lacked quarterly supervisory review in 31 offices.
              • Case files were missing or in disarray or file documents were missing in
                seven offices.
              • Reports of investigation were not timely in 14 offices.
              • Problems with accurate and timely statistics existed in eight offices.


                Generally, MID attributed the case management problems to agents and
                first- and second-line supervisors. In several of the previously mentioned
                reports, MID concluded the following:

              • The proper compilation of all documents that constitute a complete case
                file record is essential in anticipation of legal action that may result from
                any investigation.
              • The failure to follow OI policy could result in a number of problems,
                including the possibility of inadmissibility or challenge by defense
                attorneys when cases are presented in criminal or civil proceedings.
              • Inclusion of inappropriate enforcement statistics adversely affected
                operational and managerial assessments on the local and national level.
              • Incomplete enforcement statistics had a negative impact on productivity
                ratios.
              • The overall progress of (1) an individual investigation or (2) an
                investigative program could not be assessed because of case management
                problems.
              • Incomplete investigative case files and statistical information might
                adversely impact staffing and budget considerations.

                In reports issued to specific SACs, MID recommended that they improve
                supervisory reviews, ensure compliance with Customs’ policies and
                procedures, and improve the timeliness and completeness of reports of
                investigation.

                When combined with MID reports since 1994, our findings at the Chicago
Conclusions     and New York SAC offices suggest that case management problems have
                existed in OI for some time. Although we did not determine whether the
                problems at the two offices adversely affected the outcome of
                investigations, we agree with MID’s conclusions regarding the potential
                harm that inattention to these details could cause.

                We believe that MID is uniquely situated to identify systemic problems
                occurring across individual SAC offices or in ports of entry, strategic trade
                centers, or other Customs units. A formal summary of the results of MID
                inspections could provide a valuable tool to help heads of the major offices


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                        and divisions within Customs ensure that their individual units are
                        performing as they should.

                        We recommend that the Commissioner of Customs direct MID to routinely
Recommendation          summarize its findings relating to major organizational units within
                        Customs to identify systemic problems and make appropriate
                        recommendations to correct them.

                        In commenting for the Department of the Treasury, Customs’ Director,
Agency Comments and     Office of Planning, generally agreed with our recommendation and said
Our Evaluation          that Customs has taken steps to address our findings.

                        OI agreed with our findings, conclusions, and recommendations. In
                        response to our finding that enforcement statistics were missing from the
                        case management database, OI said that it had taken or plans to take the
                        following actions:

                      • develop and implement a computer-generated procedure for recording the
                        final disposition of seizures in the OI case management system;
                      • direct all field offices to ensure that all initial and final statistics are
                        included in the case management system for all cases closed between
                        fiscal years 1996 and 1998;
                      • establish a new management oversight position, which will report directly
                        to the Assistant Commissioner, in an effort to ensure greater
                        accountability from field managers;
                      • revise the case management policies and procedures;
                      • complete the development of a “data warehouse” by the end of the year;
                        and
                      • increase the emphasis on case management procedures in future training
                        programs.

                        In response to our finding that supervisors did not provide evidence of
                        case file reviews, OI said it plans to automate a procedure in the fall that
                        would automatically notify supervisors every 90 days of their need to
                        review and approve case files as required. OI also plans to automate other
                        aspects of case management, including the form that supervisors are
                        currently required to use to document supervisory reviews. These actions
                        appear to be good first steps to correct the problems that we noted.

                        In its comments, OI also said that the importance of some of the
                        discrepancies that we noted was overstated. Although OI agreed that the
                        data were missing, it said that the lack of this information in the case
                        management database did not affect the accuracy of the statistics it used



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for internal planning, productivity, and resource allocation decisions. We
did not determine as part of this review whether the incomplete statistics
affected any OI planning or resource allocation decisions. However, to the
extent OI relies on field-reported data to plan operations, assess
performance, and make resource allocation decisions, we believe it should
have complete, accurate data. We are encouraged by the steps OI outlined
to improve these data.

Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs said that MID has initiated a self-
inspection program, which should provide a comprehensive mechanism
for management oversight of programs and processes, including case
management. According to the Office of Internal Affairs, MID plans to
report the findings of the first self inspection to Customs executive
management by October 1, 1999. (See app. II.)

We are providing copies of this report to the Honorable Sander M. Levin,
Ranking Minority Member of the House Subcommittee on Trade; the
Honorable Lawrence Summers, the Secretary of the Treasury; the
Honorable Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner of Customs; and other
interested parties. Copies also will be made available to others upon
request.

The major contributors to this report are acknowledged in appendix III. If
you or your staff have any questions about the information in this report,
please contact me on (202) 512-8777 or Brenda Bridges, Assistant Director,
on (202) 512-5081.

Sincerely yours,




Norman J. Rabkin
Director, Administration of
  Justice Issues




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Contents



Letter                                                                                              1


Appendix I                                                                                         16

Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology
Appendix II                                                                                        18
                         GAO Comments                                                              23
Comments From the
U.S. Customs Service
Appendix III                                                                                       24

GAO Contacts and
Staff
Acknowledgments
Tables                   Table 1: Number of Cases With Incomplete Statistics                        4
                         Table 2: Arrests and Their Final Dispositions Were                         4
                           Missing From the Electronic Case Management
                           Database
                         Table 3: Seized Items and Their Final Dispositions Were                    5
                           Missing From the Electronic Case Management
                           Database
                         Table 4: Number of Cases That Lacked Evidence of                           6
                           Supervisory Review
                         Table 5: Number of Supervisory Reviews Not Completed                       7
                           in a Timely Manner
                         Table 6: Number of Reports of Investigation Not Prepared                   7
                           in a Timely Manner
                         Table 7: Information on the Seven Case Files That Could                    8
                           Not Be Located in New York




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Contents




Abbreviations

DCI         Data Collection Instrument
MID         Management Inspection Division
OI          Office of Investigations
SAC         Special Agent in Charge


Page 15                  GAO/GGD-99-121 OI Case Management Problems Continue
Appendix I

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology


              Our overall objective was to review Customs’ Office of Investigation (OI)
              case management process. Specifically, we sought to identify whether OI
              was following its case management policies and procedures. To conduct
              the investigative case file reviews, we selected separate random samples of
              case files closed from October 1, 1995, to July 14, 1998, in the New York
              and Chicago Special Agent in Charge (SAC) offices. In New York, we drew
              a random sample of 34 cases from a population of 1,443 cases. In Chicago,
              we drew a sample of 47 cases from a population of 1,143 cases. In total,
              we reviewed 81 case files in the hard-copy form.

              To conduct the file reviews, we developed a data collection instrument
              (DCI) to measure whether Customs was following its own case
              management policies and procedures. We reviewed the hard-copy version
              of the files in New York and Chicago, two of the SAC offices with large
                                 1
              numbers of cases.

              To minimize nonsampling error in our file reviews, we pretested the DCI at
              the Baltimore SAC. We also verified 100 percent of the data entered from
              our DCI into a database that we created.

              To improve the reliability of our estimates, we combined the New York
              and Chicago cases in our analysis. We determined, however, that the
              results of the file reviews were similar for both locations. We calculated
              sampling errors at the 95-percent confidence interval. In the text, when we
              make estimates in terms of noncompliance of “at least ‘x’ percent,” we are
              using the lower bound of a one-sided 95-percent confidence interval. In
              other words, if we drew repeated samples of the same size from the
              population of cases in New York and Chicago, we would expect that the
              statement “at least ‘x’ percent of the cases were not in compliance” would
              be true in at least 95 of 100 samples. For the subpopulation of cases that
              should have had statistics reported in the electronic case management
              database, we also used simulation methods to estimate the standard error
              of the proportion of cases that had missing statistics. Using the lower
              bound rather than the point estimate provides a more conservative
              estimate of the percentage of cases not in compliance with Customs’
              policies and procedures.

              In addition, we examined the computer version of the case files to
              determine whether agents were updating statistics in the electronic case
              management database, which is a part of the Treasury Enforcement

              1
              Because we were reviewing regulatory audit concurrently, we specifically included only larger SAC
              offices that were colocated with a Customs’ Office of Regulatory Audit.




              Page 16                             GAO/GGD-99-121 OI Case Management Problems Continue
Appendix I
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




Communication System. A Customs official verified the information on
the statistics that we reported as missing from the case management
database. We also interviewed several Customs officials about the
importance of case management, including the use of case enforcement
statistics to evaluate what, if anything, Customs was doing to improve
compliance with its own policies and procedures.

The second part of this review was to determine the role that Customs’
Office of Internal Affairs, Management Inspection Division (MID), played
in monitoring case management in OI. To accomplish this objective, we
(1) reviewed the combined annual report for fiscal years 1994 and 1995
and management inspection and follow-up reports on 62 OI offices
completed between fiscal years 1995 and 1998 and (2) interviewed MID
                                                2
officials who conduct case management reviews.




2
MID officials told us that they also conducted a trend analysis of their 1996 management inspections;
however, they were unable to locate a copy of the report.




Page 17                              GAO/GGD-99-121 OI Case Management Problems Continue
Appendix II

Comments From the U.S. Customs Service


Note: GAO comments
supplementing those in the
report text appear at the
end of this appendix.




                             Page 18   GAO/GGD-99-121 OI Case Management Problems Continue
                 Appendix II
                 Comments From the U.S. Customs Service




See comment 1.




                 Page 19                       GAO/GGD-99-121 OI Case Management Problems Continue
                 Appendix II
                 Comments From the U.S. Customs Service




See comment 2.




                 Page 20                       GAO/GGD-99-121 OI Case Management Problems Continue
Appendix II
Comments From the U.S. Customs Service




Page 21                       GAO/GGD-99-121 OI Case Management Problems Continue
Appendix II
Comments From the U.S. Customs Service




Page 22                       GAO/GGD-99-121 OI Case Management Problems Continue
               Appendix II
               Comments From the U.S. Customs Service




               The following are GAO’s comments on the U.S. Customs Service letter
               dated July 13, 1999.

               1. As a part of this review, we did not determine whether the mission
GAO Comments   statistics affected OI’s performance evaluation process. However, since
               the initial seizure data may include seized items that are eventually
               returned to the alleged violators rather than forfeited to the government,
               we believe that the final disposition of seizure data would be more
               accurate than the initial seizure data.

               2. Customs written procedures require cases such as these to be closed.




               Page 23                       GAO/GGD-99-121 OI Case Management Problems Continue
Appendix III

GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments


                  Brenda Bridges, (202) 512-5081
GAO Contacts
                  Charity J. Goodman
Acknowledgments   Carolyn S. Ikeda
                  Ronald J. Salo
                  Barry J. Seltser
                  Sidney H. Schwartz
                  Rebecca Shea
                  Jan B. Montgomery




                  Page 24                   GAO/GGD-99-121 OI Case Management Problems Continue
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