Federal Fugitive ApprehensionAgencies Taking Action to Improve Coordination and Cooperation Gao ID: GGD-95-75 May 2, 1995
The percentage of fugitive cases involving interagency coordination problems, such as interagency duplication, jurisdictional disputes, and noncooperation, does not appear to be large. Nevertheless, agency coordination problems have harmed efforts to apprehend federal fugitives. These problems involved mainly the FBI's and the U.S. Marshals Service's (1) failure to participate on each other's fugitive task forces; (2) disagreements over responsibility for prison escapes involving possible conspiracy charges; and (3) failure, at times, to cooperate when involved with the apprehension of other countries' fugitives. Officials from the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service believe that these problems will be resolved as a result of (1) specific efforts by the two agencies, (2) the planning and the coordination that will be done under the Justice Department's Anti-Violent Crime Initiatives, (3) mandates from the Attorney General and their agency heads that interagency squabbles and noncooperation will not be tolerated, and (4) the establishment of the Office of Investigative Agency Policies. In addition, the U.S. Marshals Service is taking steps to resolve problems involving non-Justice agencies through direct negotiations, and, if unsuccessful, plans to ask for help from the Office of Investigative Agency Policies.
GAO found that: (1) officials from all federal agencies involved in fugitive apprehension stated that they did not have extensive interagency coordination problems, overlapping or duplicate efforts, or jurisdictional disputes; (2) none of the agencies had empirical data on the 727 fugitives who were wanted by more than one agency; (3) interagency coordination problems could jeopardize fugitive apprehension efforts, endanger law enforcement officials and the general public, and waste limited law enforcement resources; (4) some interagency coordination problems such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) and the U.S. Marshals Service's (USMS) failure to participate in each other's fugitive task forces, disagreements over responsibility for prison escapes involving possible conspiracy charges, and agencies' failure to cooperate with the apprehension of other countries' fugitives adversely affected the effectiveness of federal fugitive apprehension efforts; (5) FBI and USMS have taken actions to deal with interagency problems to improve coordination and eliminate duplication; and (6) Justice established the Office of Investigative Agency Policies to resolve coordination problems, ensure efficiencies in overlapping efforts, and determine whether fugitive responsibilities are properly aligned among agencies.