A U.S. Marshall gestures in April.

A U.S. Marshall gestures in April. Michael Dwyer/AP

Justice IG: U.S Marshals Overused Overtime Pay

One employee earned more in overtime than in base salary.

Some Washington-based U.S. Marshals may have excessively used overtime pay, according to a report from the Justice Department inspector general.

The IG’s report, released on Wednesday, audited the U.S. Marshals Service’s Office in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and found discrepancies in the use of overtime pay from fiscal 2009 through fiscal 2011. The IG said the total overtime pay in the office amounted to approximately 160,000 overtime hours, costing nearly $6 million over three fiscal years.

But this number, said the IG, does “not convey an accurate picture of what some individual district employees actually received” in overtime pay.  The report said “five employees alone” received 11 percent of the total overtime, and one earned a greater amount of pay in overtime than in actual base salary.

“Furthermore, supervisors are not required to document their overtime need or otherwise justify the number of overtime shifts available,” the IG said.  “As a result, supervisors use different methods to assign overtime, and employees have accused supervisors in at least two instances of providing preferential treatment to some employees in comparison to others.”

The IG noted that the amount of overtime pay decreased from $2.7 million to $1.5 million in the years that the agency was audited. Still, supervisors at the USMS “primarily relied on their experience and intuition to determine” overtime shifts, according to the report.

Other areas of concern noted by the IG included the use of agency fleet and purchase cards.  The IG said the agency needed to “strengthen internal controls” after it could not support more than $51,000 in fleet card transactions, and $60,000 in purchase card transactions.

In response to the report, U.S. Marshals Service Associate Director for Administration Steven Mertens concurred with the recommendations, and said USMS would update key fiscal and accounting policies to ensure better management.