Justice Department investigators identified “troubling” flaws in how officials prepared employees for behaving themselves while off-duty overseas, a new audit reports.
Following up on allegations of misbehavior by Drug Enforcement Administration agents and others at the time of a presidential visit in 2012 to Cartagena, Colombia, the department’s Office of Inspector General examined policies concerning employee conduct.
The investigators found the department lacked “department-wide policies and training requirements that address off-duty conduct, whether in the United States or foreign countries.” The investigators also reported that “substantial gaps...exist in the training the components’ personnel receive before going abroad.”
The FBI “has done the most to prepare its employees” while the DEA “provided its employees with the least information about off-duty conduct while abroad and that its policies and training had significant gaps.”
Justice Department employees make more than 6,100 trips a year to more than 140 countries.
“Off-duty misconduct by DOJ employees working abroad can present unique concerns, particularly for those in law enforcement and those with security clearances,” the audit notes. “Moreover, when off-duty misconduct occurs abroad, the impact on the U.S. government’s reputation and its law enforcement efforts can be especially damaging.”
Justice Department officials, in their formal response, concurred with the investigators’ recommendations and reported they have already been making changes. A number of the issues identified in the report have been “resolved,” the report states.
The report notes that “one of the DEA agents involved in the Cartagena incident had appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, challenging his indefinite suspension without pay based upon the revocation of his security clearance.”