Administration of Justice Issue Area Plan--Fiscal Years 1997-98

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-03-01.

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

               United States General Accounting Office

GAO            General Government Division

March 1997
               Administration of
               Justice Issue Area Plan
               Fiscal Years 1997-98


               As the investigative arm of Congress and the nation’s auditor, the General
               Accounting Office is charged with following the federal dollar wherever it
               goes. Reflecting stringent standards of objectivity and independence, GAO’s
               audits, evaluations, and investigations promote a more efficient and
               cost-effective government; expose waste, fraud, abuse, and
               mismanagement in federal programs; help Congress target budget
               reductions; assess financial information management; and alert Congress
               to developing trends that may have significant fiscal or budgetary
               consequences. In fulfilling its responsibilities, GAO performs original
               research and uses hundreds of databases or creates its own when
               information is unavailable elsewhere.

               To ensure that GAO’s resources are directed toward the most important
               issues facing Congress, each of GAO’s 32 issue areas develops a strategic
               plan that describes the significance of the issues it addresses, its
               objectives, and the focus of its work. Each issue area relies heavily on
               input from congressional committees, agency officials, and subject-matter
               experts in developing its strategic plan.

               The Administration of Justice issue area covers the Department of Justice,
               the Department of the Treasury’s investigative agencies, the judicial
               branch of the federal government, and several independent agencies. GAO’s
               work in the justice area generally seeks to improve the efficiency and
               effectiveness of the justice system. The principal issues in the justice area

           •   federal law enforcement’s response, in partnership with state and local
               governments, to violent crime, drugs, and other major threats facing
           •   the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal courts and corrections
               systems, given the increasing demands placed on them and current
               budgetary constraints;
           •   the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s ability to effectively and
               efficiently enforce immigration laws and enhance service delivery; and
           •   the U.S. Customs Service’s effectiveness in implementing its drug
               interdiction and investigative missions and fulfilling its trade enforcement

               In the pages that follow, we describe our planned work for fiscal years
               1997 and 1998 relating to these issues.

               Page 1                                                           GAO/IAP-97-3

Events in the justice area tend to move swiftly. Therefore, we designed a
flexible planning process that will allow us to respond quickly to emerging
issues. If you have any questions or suggestions about this plan, please call
me at (202) 512-3610.

Norman J. Rabkin
Director, Administration of
  Justice Issues

Page 2                                                           GAO/IAP-97-3

Table I: Key Issues
Table II: Planned
Major Work
Table III: GAO

                      Page 3   GAO/IAP-97-3
Table I: Key Issues

Issue                                          Significance
Law enforcement: How can federal law           Crime is one of the foremost concerns of the American public. To address this concern,
enforcement, working with state and local      Congress has made many crimes involving drugs and firearms federal offenses and
governments, better respond to crime?          increased the budgets of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of the
                                               Treasury to investigate and prosecute them. Congress also has made billions of dollars
                                               available to states and localities to help them combat violent crime, drugs, terrorism, and
                                               juvenile delinquency in their communities. In addition, the President has called for a
                                               federal, state, and local partnership to address the crime problem. In the aftermath of the
                                               World Trade Center and Oklahoma City Federal Building bombings, Congress has further
                                               enhanced the authority of federal agencies to address the increasing threat of domestic
                                               and international terrorism and has increased funding to support counterterrorism

Adjudication and corrections: How can          The increased scope of federal crimes and DOJ’s resources to investigate and prosecute
the efficiency of federal courts be improved   them has created tremendous demands on the federal judiciary and corrections systems.
and correctional costs be better contained?    For example, criminal trials in district courts have increased about 25 percent since 1989,
                                               federal death penalty prosecutions have grown from 1 to 116, and prisoner appeals have
                                               grown 50 percent. The Federal Bureau of Prisons’ inmate population now exceeds
                                               106,000 and includes more women, more inmates over age 50, and more inmates with
                                               drug or mental health problems. Probation officers supervise another 85,000 offenders.
                                               On the civil side, 1996 bankruptcy filings are expected to exceed 1 million for the first
                                               time. Questions are being raised about how efficiently the courts and prisons are
                                               operating in light of these challenges.

Immigration: What actions can strengthen       The effects on this country of legal and illegal immigration continue to be of major public
enforcement of immigration laws and INS’       and congressional concern. INS’ fiscal year 1997 budget is $3.1 billion, an increase of 16
system of internal controls?                   percent over fiscal year 1996. Major legislation to curb the influx of illegal aliens was
                                               enacted at the end of fiscal year 1996. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility
                                               Act of 1996 contains numerous provisions aimed at strengthening the enforcement
                                               capabilities of INS. INS is under increasing scrutiny from Congress for its alleged
                                               instances of deception and wrongdoing, its ability to effectively use the additional
                                               resources, and its ability to carry out its new legislative mandates.

Customs: Is the Customs Service effectively The U.S. Customs Service is charged with enforcing the nation’s trade laws by ensuring
performing its drug interdiction and trade  that illegal goods do not enter the United States while legal trade flows unimpeded.
enforcement missions?                       Customs faces increased demands from recent trade agreements (NAFTA and GATT),
                                            its involvement in drug interdiction activities, and pressure from domestic and foreign
                                            businesses to facilitate the movement of goods and people across U.S. borders. In
                                            addition, Customs has committed to enhance its export control activities. The traditional
                                            focus of Customs has been directed toward movement of goods coming into the United
                                            States. However, indications are that the attractiveness of the international black market
                                            makes enforcement efforts for outgoing goods increasingly important.

                                               Page 4                                                                       GAO/IAP-97-3
                                                Table I: Key Issues

Objectives                                                             Focus of work
• Assess federal progress in implementing certain major crime          • Assess progress of federal drug and firearms control efforts.
control initiatives and enforcement programs.                          • Assess FBI’s role in carrying out the President’s
                                                                       counterterrorism strategy.
• Review federal implementation and states’ use of selected            • Evaluate efforts to stem laundering of money derived from illegal
categorical grants for crime control to provide information on their   drug activity.
outcomes and impacts.                                                  • For specific programs and activities, such as community
                                                                       policing and drug courts, assess federal law enforcement
                                                                       agencies’ progress in implementing legislatively required plans
                                                                       and in establishing goals and performance measures.

• Report periodically to Congress on judiciary initiatives and other   • Assess status of selected Judicial Conference
changes that could increase efficiency.                                recommendations for efficiency.
                                                                       • Assess bankruptcy workload and judiciary’s efforts to match
• Identify strategies for containing cost growth in the corrections    resource distribution to workload.
system.                                                                • Assess state practices that may be applicable to federal prison
                                                                       • Evaluate BOP’s effort to cost-effectively meet the needs of a
                                                                       changing inmate population.

• Identify ways to improve immigration enforcement efforts against     • Assess the implementation of the border strategy and its effects
illegal and criminal aliens.                                           on illegal entry.
                                                                       • Assess the implementation and results of expedited procedures
• Identify ways INS can improve internal controls over its             to remove aliens who attempt to enter the country without proper
management information system.                                         documents.
                                                                       • Evaluate the process for identifying and removing criminal
                                                                       • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of INS’ management
                                                                       information system for budgetary and management
                                                                       • Review aspects of INS’ Citizenship USA program.
• Determine the effectiveness of Customs’ drug interdiction and        • Evaluate Customs’ drug interdiction and investigative efforts.
investigative efforts.                                                 • Assess Customs’ cargo compliance measurement program,
                                                                       in-bond transfers, and other trade enforcement efforts.
• Determine the effectiveness of Customs’ cargo and trade              • Assess Customs’ export control efforts.
enforcement efforts.

                                                Page 5                                                                       GAO/IAP-97-3
Table II: Planned Major Work

Issue              Planned major job starts
Law enforcement    • Assess the operations of High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task forces.
                   • Assess the use of money laundering data in enforcement efforts.
                   • Review the status of the “instant check” system required by the Brady Act.
                   • Review the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ efforts to detect criminal sources of
                   • Review FBI’s use of funds provided for counterterrorism activities.
Adjudication and   • Assess implementation of judiciary initiatives with the most promise for reducing costs.
corrections        • Assess judiciary’s management of its rising bankruptcy workload.
                   • Provide options for managing cost effectively special needs populations in prisons.
                   • Assess cost containment strategies of selected state prison systems.
Immigration        • Review border enforcement efforts along Southwest border.
                   • Review expedited removal procedures at ports of entry.
                   • Assess the quality of INS’ data used for its management information system.
                   • Assess internal controls over criminal background checks of naturalization applicants.
Customs            • Analyze Customs’ efforts to interdict drug smugglers traveling via air and land transportation.
                   • Assess Customs’ efforts to detect export of such contraband items as currency, firearms, and
                   stolen cars at major land ports.

                          Page 6                                                                        GAO/IAP-97-3
Table III: GAO Contacts

Director              Norman J. Rabkin          (202) 512-3610

Assistant Directors   James M. Blume            (202) 512-8643
                      Danny R. Burton           (214) 777-5741
                      Darryl W. Dutton          (213) 830-1086
                      Daniel C. Harris          (202) 512-8720
                      William O. Jenkins, Jr.   (202) 512-8757
                      Weldon McPhail            (202) 512-8644
                      Eva L. Rezmovic           (202) 512-2580

                      Page 7                                     GAO/IAP-97-3
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