Treasury told to fine-tune law enforcement performance measures

The Treasury Department needs to better explain how its enforcement activities protect the public from such crimes as drug trafficking and terrorism, according to a report by the agency's inspector general.

The department must develop a "clear and complete" set of outcome-related performance measures for federal law enforcement activities, according to a November IG report, "Better Performance Measures Are Needed for Treasury Enforcement Programs (OIG-02-013).

Treasury enforcement agencies, including the Customs Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Secret Service, should also coordinate their efforts and collaborate with the Justice Department where possible to develop stronger performance measures for more accurate reporting under the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act, the report said.

"Treasury enforcement operations have a greater impact and broader scope than what is currently reported," the report said. Although Treasury is developing and reporting better measures, the lack of clear performance measures is "substantial and long-standing, and will not be quickly or easily resolved."

The IG's report looked at Treasury's performance measures in three major areas of enforcement: combating money laundering and other financial crimes; protecting the nation's borders and major ports from drug traffickers and smugglers; and reducing violent crime and the threat of terrorism.

The IG acknowledged the difficulty in creating performance measures for enforcement activities that often involve undercover operations and the participation of various federal, state, local and foreign agencies, but also noted that those obstacles must be overcome to help stakeholders make important policy and budget decisions.

"Performance goals are of minimal value for congressional decision-makers without a connection to the resources requested," the study said.

For example, according to the IG's report, Treasury's current performance measures for drug interdiction focus primarily on seizures, but do not clearly demonstrate whether changes in the number of seizures are the result of successful interdiction or a change in the volume or methods of smuggling. Also, Treasury and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy do not agree on the methodology used to calculate certain drug estimates, creating more confusion, the report noted.

Treasury's measures for reducing the threat of terrorism in its fiscal 1999 and 2000 performance reports also did not provide an accurate picture of whether the department was meeting its goal, the study concluded.

The IG's report made several recommendations, including urging Treasury to work closely with Justice and the Office of National Drug Control Policy on developing consistent performance measures for drug interdiction and on using seizure rates as a percentage of total estimates when evaluating drug and money laundering enforcement activities. The report also urged Treasury to use quantitative measures, which are more reliable, instead of qualitative measures to evaluate the department's effectiveness in reducing violent crime and terrorism.

In general, Treasury's Office of Enforcement agreed with the IG's findings and recommendations, but expressed doubt that valid estimates of economic activity in drug trafficking and money laundering could ever be developed in an area "where the goal of activity itself is concealment from the government," James Gurulé, Treasury's undersecretary of enforcement, said in his comments.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.