- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A government report Wednesday found significant deficiencies in how the U.S. Marshals Service accounts for overtime and supplemental pay for law enforcement officers; identifies more than $275,000 in unsupported costs associated with district-level salaries, fleet cards and purchase cards; and concludes that the agency needs to take multiple actions to strengthen its internal controls to ensure it is adequately preventing waste, fraud and abuse.

The report, by the Justice Department’s office of inspector general, says that agency supervisors responsible for assigning overtime hours did not have concrete guidance on how much overtime was appropriate, and that the matter was left primarily to their own judgment.

As a result, from October 2008 to September 2011 approximately 10 percent of the 1.5 million hours worked by Marshal's Service employees were overtime hours, resulting in more than $6 million in overtime pay, the report says.

The report identifies several employees who recorded more than 1,000 hours of overtime each year and earned more than $35,000 each in overtime, including five employees who received a total of nearly $679,000 in overtime pay in the three-year period.

One employee earned more in overtime than in base pay during the review period, the report says.

The report notes that the Marshal's Service had made efforts to reduce overtime and it has dropped by almost half, from $2.7 million in fiscal 2009 to about $1.5 million in fiscal 2011.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said the audit also found that agency managers could have done more to ensure that criminal investigators were actually working a substantial majority of their required unscheduled duty hours as specified by department policy. He said an assessment of one year of time sheets for six sampled investigators found “significant deficiencies and irregularities” in the documentation of unscheduled duty hours worked.

Mr. Horowitz said the audit also found that the agency needs to strengthen controls over both fleet and purchase cards, having spent an average of more than $200,000 on gas to fill up the fleet and an average of $120,000 on other purchases each year during the three-year review period. Many of the expenditures, he said, were paid without adequate supporting documentation.

With respect to accountable property, he said his office identified various internal controls that the Marshal's Service should implement to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its inventory process.

The Marshals Service agreed with all of the inspector general’s 18 recommendations to improve procedures and cost controls.

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