Oversight of DEA’s Confidential Source Program

Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Hearing Date: November 30, 2016 10:00 am 2154 Rayburn HOB

TAKEAWAYS:

  • DEA’s lax oversight of its use of Confidential Sources (CS) has persisted for over a decade, despite numerous IG and congressional warnings.
  • DEA does not adequately track money paid to confidential sources, which increases the potential for waste, fraud, and abuse.
  • An Amtrak employee was paid more than $850,000 for information DEA could have obtained at no cost.
  • DEA does not have adequate metrics in place to measure the success of the CS program, which paid informants $237 million in a five-year period.
  • DEA denied Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (DOJ IG) access to information related to confidential sources, which delayed its investigation for over a year.
  • DEA paid $86 million to purchase and modify a surveillance airplane that will never fly its intended mission and yet 14 senior managers received almost a combine total of $1 million in bonuses.

PURPOSE:

  • The hearing will examine the recent audits and investigations conducted by the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (DOJ OIG) of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Confidential Source (CS) Program. 
  • Topics include the current state of DEA’s oversight and management of its CS program, changes it has made to the program, and DEA’s response to DOJ OIG’s recommendations.  

BACKGROUND:

  • The DEA maintains an extensive and recently expanding CS program. DOJ OIG found deficiencies in DEA’s oversight and management of this vast network of confidential sources dating back to 2005.  
  • These CSs included employees from Amtrak, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), private bus companies, and employees in the parcel delivery industry being paid for information.
  • A September 2016 DOJ OIG audit found that from 2010 to 2015, DEA had 18,000 active CSs, with over 9,000 CSs receiving approximately $237 million in payments from the DEA.  
  • Much of the activity identified by DOJ OIG occurred under the previous DEA Administrator Leonhart who resigned in April 2015 after Chairman Chaffetz, Ranking Member Cummings, and other members of the Oversight Committee released a statement expressing “no confidence” in her ability to manage the DEA.

KEY VIDEOS:

Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT): “Do we have, are there any metrics on convictions, drug seizures? What did we get for $237 million?”

Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC): “Would you agree then, at this particular point, without the implementation of a legislative fix, the IG Empowerment Act, that it is up to the individual discretion of an administrator on how they comply and whether they comply, and you would agree that there should be some continuity there?”

Information Technology Subcommittee Chairman Will Hurd (R-TX): “Do you feel that within the DEA that there is a clearly established criteria to be used to determine whether money being paid to a confidential source was valuable or worth it?”

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
The Honorable Michael E. Horowitz Inspector General U.S. Department of Justice Document
The Honorable Chuck Rosenberg Acting Administrator Drug Enforcement Administration
Mr. Rob Patterson Chief of Inspections Drug Enforcement Administration Document