Leadership from three components of the Department of Homeland Security — the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — do not consistently monitor their internal controls in employee misconduct cases, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office.
The three components do have internal controls established to process misconduct allegations, the report says, but they don’t document crucial control activities consistently. These internal controls simply represent what each agency considers necessary to ensure the quality and independence of the employee misconduct process.
There are even performance targets established, but many are not being met. For example, the timeliness target for completing misconduct adjudications is only met some of the time, resulting in average total durations that range from 19 days to 434 days.
In some cases, the failure to meet these targets might be due to criminal cases being prioritized. The report notes that CBP met its timeliness goal for criminal probes 93 percent of the time, but only 40 percent of the time in non-criminal investigations.
“Given the number of employee misconduct cases these components handle annually,” the report reads, “it is important that the processes they use have internal controls to ensure quality and independence, the data in the management system is complete and reliable and cases are processed in a timely manner according to established performance targets.”
DHS agrees with all recommendations made by the GAO
The GAO report made the following recommendations, with which DHS agreed:
- Component leaders should revise policies or guidance to ensure the required control activities are documented within case management systems.
- Component leaders should monitor the duration of all employee misconduct cases.
- Component leaders should measure the timeliness of cases against established timeliness targets.
- In the case management system, component leaders should define and document all data fields used for monitoring performance targets.
- Each component should modify its annual self-inspection programs. ICE should track the status of related corrective actions to ensure timely implementation. CBP and TSA should include evaluating and testing the internal controls related to the employee misconduct process.
- The CBP commissioner and the ICE director should require documentation of investigative findings in their case management systems.
- The TSA administrator should develop a method for connecting cases more easily between the various databases used in employee misconduct cases.
If you have been accused of misconduct, you deserve your case to be handled in a timely, quality fashion by an independent investigator. Contact an employment law attorney familiar with federal employment law as soon in the process as possible to ensure your case is adjudicated fairly and within a reasonable period of time.