Government Spending

Watchdogs Concerned about DOJ’s Spending, Technology

Lawmakers and watchdogs are concerned the Justice Department cannot adequately track its spending on contracts, its staffing deficiencies, and its use of unreliable tech equipment.

DOJ’s Inspector General named these issues, in addition to the agency’s poor cybersecurity, as the agency’s primary management problems.

Congress members pressed watchdogs at a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing about DOJ’s issues with tracking the $7.8 billion it spent on contracts in fiscal 2015.

DOJ’s IG Michael Horowitz testified that the department needs to improve its compliance with federal award regulations as well as its deficient post-award contract monitoring, reports FCW.

OIG faces challenges in determining if Justice's awards and grant programs are duplicative because there isn’t as much transparency as there should be, Horowitz said.

One solution Horowitz offered was the full implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act. Passed in 2014, the Act is an open government law requiring agencies to report financial information in a uniform format that is machine-readable.

The OIG would benefit from an expansion of tech tools to "look at data more broadly," he said. "But frankly, our hope is" that Justice will "collect more data and make it more transparent."

Turning to DOJ’s tech, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) broached FBI’s "improper testing" of facial recognition technology. Lofgren mentioned how the Government Accountability Office flagged the testing and the National Institute of Standards and Technology scrutinized it as well.

"The FBI does some things very well, Lofgren said. "Technology is not one of the things they're known to be the very best at."

Lawmakers noted the facial recognition technology failed to place the correct individual in the top 50 of matches in 7.1 percent of cases.

GAO’s Director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues, Diana Maurer, said neither FBI nor DOJ took recommendations made by GAO and NIST to improve the technology's testing, leaving GAO "quite concerned."

Posted in General News

Tags: ICE, Justice Department, Jeff Sessions, sanctuary cities

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