Inspector General: Dept. of Justice Is Misreporting Terror Statistics

By Alissa Tabirian | September 17, 2013 | 5:37pm EDT

U.S. Department of Justice (AP photo)

( follow-up to a 2007 audit released Monday by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that DOJ did not accurately report terrorism-related statistics in 24 of the 26 categories auditors reviewed.

“For purposes of this audit, we considered the misreporting of a statistic as significant if the statistic was either overstated or understated by 10 percent or more,” the report stated.

The follow-up audit casts new doubt on the “number of terrorism-related cases filed, the number of defendants convicted at trial or by guilty plea, and the number of defendants sentenced to prison” previously reported by DOJ.

“These inaccuracies are important because Department management and Congress need accurate terrorism-related statistics to make informed budgetary and operational decisions,” the audit states.

Major inaccuracies in “terrorism-related statistics” were reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA), and the DOJ’s Criminal Division.

“We found that EOUSA overstated one statistic showing the number of terrorism-related defendants within our sample who had been judged guilty in FY 2009 by 13 percent, and then overstated the same statistic for the defendants within our FY 2010 sample by 26 percent,” the OIG reported.

“EOUSA’s implementation of the revised procedures was not effective to ensure that terrorism-related statistics were reported accurately. . . EOUSA inaccurately reported all 11 statistics we reviewed during this follow-up audit.”

They include “significantly overstated statistics,” miscounting and double counting of cases between fiscal years, incorrect coding, and lack of “support for the reported statistics,” the OIG report said, blaming the problem on a “lack of internal controls.”

The EOUSA’s annual reports “only show the numbers reported for each statistic, but do not show necessary supporting details such as case numbers, defendant names, and disposition dates.”

For example, in 2010, EOUSA overstated the reported number of cases actually terminated during FY 2010” by 14 percent. “The cases for four defendants were incorrectly coded as Terrorism/National Security Critical Infrastructure cases.”

In another case that “should have been coded as an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case instead of an Export Enforcement Terrorism-Related case,” the defendant faced conspiracy charges for the “intent to distribute over 50 kilograms of marijuana and was involved in the importation and delivery of approximately 200 pounds of marijuana.”

In order to prevent “continued inaccurate reporting,” the OIG recommended that EOUSA establish an annual reminder system calling for the re-coding of cases, update “reporting practices to clearly define the methodology used to collect the data,” “clarify reporting practices,” and monitor compliance.

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