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Report | Sept. 30, 2020

Audit of Excess Property Issued Through the Department of Defense Law Enforcement Support Program (DODIG-2020-129)

Audit

Publicly Released: October 2, 2020

 

Objective

We determined whether the DoD provided excess property to law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in accordance with the Law Enforcement Support (LESO) Program. The LESO Program is implemented through guidance in the United States Code; Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Instruction 4140.11; memorandums of agreement; and state plans of operation.

 

Background

Congress allowed for the transfer of excess DoD property to LEAs across the U.S. and its territories with preference for counter-drug, counter-terrorism, and border security activities. The DoD determines property is excess when it is no longer needed for its particular use. The LEAs must accept the property on an as-is basis and are responsible for all costs incurred after the transfer, including shipping and maintenance. More than 8,000 Federal and state LEAs have enrolled in the LESO Program since its inception in 1990, and the DoD has transferred more than $7.4 billion worth of property to participating LEAs.

The Secretary of Defense delegated the management of the LESO Program to the DLA. The DLA Disposition Services LESO (DLA LESO) Office established the terms and conditions of the program in a memorandum of agreement with each State Coordinator. The State Coordinator provides oversight of the LESO Program in their respective state. September 30, 2020 LESO property is categorized as controlled or uncontrolled. Controlled LESO property is property with military attributes, such as night vision devices, armored vehicles, and firearms, and ownership always resides with the DoD. The LEA must return the controlled LESO property when it no longer has a legitimate law enforcement use for the property. Uncontrolled property is property without military attributes, such as commercial vehicles, office furniture, generators, first aid kits, hand tools, and recreational equipment. Uncontrolled LESO property is subject to the same controls as controlled LESO property for a year; however, the LEA takes ownership and title of uncontrolled LESO property 1 year after the ship date.

The DLA and the State Coordinator review all requests for LESO property to ensure LEAs describe how they will use the property and the property’s law enforcement purpose. According to LESO Program guidance, prior to approving the request, the DLA LESO Office and the State Coordinator should consider the fair and equitable distribution of LESO property including generally not approving more than one of any item per officer.

 

Finding

The DLA LESO Office established controls and provided excess DoD property to LEAs that enhanced their capabilities to perform law enforcement activities in accordance with the United State Code. However, 14 of the 15 LEAs we reviewed obtained controlled and uncontrolled LESO property, such as firearms and tools that were not supporting law enforcement activities. This occurred because the DLA LESO Office did not provide adequate oversight to ensure LEAs made LESO property available for use. Specifically, DLA LESO Office officials:

• focused on selecting LEAs with high quantities of firearms for the program compliance reviews  
  and did not validate whether the LEAs were making the LESO property available for use,

• were not aware that some LEAs exceeded the established allocation limits for certain items,

• did not ensure the State Coordinators reviewed the validity of the LEA justifications for LESO
   property, and

• did not ensure the LEAs were aware of program requirements and best practices.

As a result of the DLA LESO Office providing property that did not support law enforcement activities, other Federal or state LEAs may unnecessarily spend funds to procure property that could be obtained through the LESO Program. In addition, the DoD may have been able to sell the excess property and use the proceeds to support DoD requirements.

 

Recommendation

We recommend that the Director of DLA Disposition Services require the DLA LESO Office to:

• re-evaluate how LEAs are selected for program compliance reviews; identify ways to increase
   the review of uncontrolled LESO property without reducing oversight of the firearms; and add
   criteria to the program compliance review process related to the LEAs making LESO property
   available for use;

• implement additional controls to enforce allocation limits that ensure the equitable and fair
   distribution of LESO property;

• provide materials from the annual LESO Program training conference to all State Coordinators
   and require those individuals that do not attend to self-certify that they have read the
   material;

• strengthen the controls within the memorandum of agreement related to the State
   Coordinator’s approval of property justifications, providing LEAs with the best practices on
   property acceptance and performing the annual physical inventory of LESO property and to
   self-certify upon completion, and preventing the personal use of all LESO property; and

• review the updated state plans of operations to ensure the requirements in the memorandum
  of agreement are included.

 

Management Comments and Our Response

The Deputy Director of DLA Logistics Operations, responding for the DLA Disposition Services Director, agreed to the recommendation. Management comments addressed the specifics of the recommendation; therefore the recommendation is resolved but will remain open. We will close the recommendation once DLA Disposition Services provides documentation demonstrating it has:

• issued procedures to re-evaluate how LEAs are selected, increase the review of uncontrolled
   LESO property, and require State Coordinators to determine if property should be transferred;

• implemented additional controls to enforce allocation limits; and

• updated its procedures and verified that State Coordinators self-certified.

 

This report is the result of Proj. No. D2020-D000AT-0021.000.