Appropriators Reprimand Police in Report

Posted July 27, 2005 at 6:47pm

House and Senate appropriators issued a sharp reprimand to Capitol Police officials in the fiscal 2006 legislative branch spending bill, criticizing the department’s management while instituting stricter oversight of the law enforcement agency.

In the report that will accompany the appropriations bill — which provides the Capitol Police with $249 million in fiscal 2006, an increase of 3.3 percent over current spending — lawmakers asserted they are “disappointed” with the agency, citing a problems in “procurements, project management, budget execution, and payroll and compensation issues.”

“The conferees believe that there has not been adequate management emphasis on improving administrative operations,” the report states.

To correct those apparent deficiencies, lawmakers included language in the report instructing Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer to implement a new “internal control program” using standards outlined by the Government Accountability Office.

“The conferees direct the Chief, the Assistant Chief, and the [Chief Administrative Officer] to place a renewed emphasis on implementing basic internal control throughout their operations, with an emphasis on instilling accountability for good internal control procedures and practices throughout the organization, while leading by example in this area and setting an appropriate tone at the top.”

According to the report, those internal controls should “provide reasonable assurance” over four areas: “The effectiveness and efficiency of operations,” “compliance with laws and regulations,” “safeguarding of assets” and the “reliability of financial reporting.”

The legislation will require the police chief to submit a written plan Oct. 1 outlining the new internal controls, including an explanation of the department’s financial management system. Under the legislation, the department will be required to submit subsequent quarterly reports on its progress in implementing the plan.

A Capitol Police spokesman did not return a telephone call seeking comment by press time.

According to the report, strict new guidelines will also apply to resources provided to the police, including the agency’s ability to reprogram funds.

In addition, the spending bill includes two provisions intended to bring the Capitol Police into compliance with federal laws already applied to other legislative branch agencies.

Those measures include the creation of Office of Inspector General for the law enforcement agency, and inclusion under the Ethics in Government Act.

That law, which requires Members of Congress and staff to file disclosure reports with the Clerk of the House or the Secretary of the Senate, would likely apply only to senior officers and staff.

The legislation also calls for the Capitol Police to provide semiannual disbursement reports to Congress detailing spending and receipts, as well as unexpended balances.

In addition, lawmakers have requested the GAO examine Capitol Police policies with regard to overtime, including whether the department could use technology to reduce the amount of overtime now required of its nearly 1,600 officers.

The request follows a recently issued GAO opinion that found the department’s top three official — Gainer, Assistant Chief James Rohan and Chief Administrative Officer Anthony Stamilio — had accrued hundreds of hours of compensatory time while serving in their posts, despite prohibitions on the practice that went into effect under the fiscal 2003 omnibus spending bill.

GAO officials, who issued the opinion at the request of the Capitol Police Board and in response to inquiries made by the House Appropriations Committee, plan to issue a second opinion to address overtime issues as they relate to other Capitol Police employees.

While Gainer, Rohan and Stamilio agreed to forfeit compensatory time earned in violation of the federal regulations — Gainer gave up more than 1,500 hours of comp time and agreed to repay 383 hours of annual leave — rank-and-file officers would be relieved from similar sanctions under the language included in the appropriations legislative.

“The conferees have included [a provision] which waives the repayment of certain overtime compensation paid incorrectly, to minimize the impact of flawed management controls on Capitol Police officers,” the report states.