Report | Nov. 10, 2021

Evaluation of Special Victim Investigation and Prosecution Capability Within the Department of Defense (DODIG-2022-035)

Evaluation

Objective

The objective of this evaluation was to determine whether the Department of Defense (DoD) and Military Services complied with Federal law and DoD policy when providing Special Victim Investigation and Prosecution (SVIP) services to victims in response to incidents of covered special victim offenses. We evaluated whether the DoD and Military Services, in response to incidents involving covered offenses:

  • assigned SVIP certified lead investigators,
  • notified victims of available resources,
  • made the required 24- and 48-hour SVIP member notifications,
  • consulted monthly with respective SVIP members,
  • assigned specially trained prosecutors, and
  • provided victims with certified victim advocates.

 

Background

Section 573 of Public Law 112-239 requires each Military Service to establish a special victim capability comprised of specially trained Military Criminal Investigative Organization (MCIO) investigators, judge advocates, paralegals, and victim witness assistance personnel to support victims of covered offenses.3 The law defines special victim capabilities as “a distinct, recognizable group of appropriately skilled professionals who work collaboratively” to “investigat[e] and prosecut[e] allegations of child abuse, serious domestic violence, or sexual offenses[,] and . . . provide support for the victims of such offenses.”

 

Findings

Based on our evaluation, we made the following determinations.

  • The MCIOs did not consistently assign certified lead investigators for investigations of covered offenses. The NCIS and OSI representatives told us this was because they did not have enough certified investigators to assign to all investigations of covered offenses.
  • MCIOs generally provided victims of covered offenses with information on available advocacy resources.
  • MCIO investigators did not consistently document communications (notifications and consultations) with SVIP members about covered offenses. The CID representative told us communications were not properly documented because its case management system did not prompt investigators to document all required information. The NCIS representative told us that the reason for a case agent not conducting or not documenting the monthly communications is “usually due to oversight on the NCIS agent’s part.” The OSI representative told us this would be the result of agent oversight.
  • Services did not consistently assign specially trained prosecutors to cases involving covered offenses. Service representatives told us SVIP-certified prosecutors were assigned to cases to litigate and assist in prosecutions. However, we found that during our evaluation period, SVIP-certified prosecutors did not consistently participate in SVIP notifications, collaborations, and consultations. Also, as of September 2, 2020, the SVIP prosecutors are no longer required to participate in SVIP notifications, collaborations, and consultations.
  • Services provided victims with certified advocates.
     

Recommendations

We recommend that the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) Director, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Director, and Office of Special Investigations (OSI) Commander conduct reviews to determine the resource requirements to train, certify, and assign additional criminal investigators to serve as lead investigators in investigations of covered offenses. The reviews should be completed in conjunction with the Service Secretaries with the authority to provide additional resources.

We recommend that the CID Director, NCIS Director, and OSI Commander develop procedures to standardize how their investigators document communications with SVIP members to ensure the documentation includes the SVIP member’s name, position, organization, and date of communication.

We recommend that the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in conjunction with the Judge Advocates General of the Army, Navy, and Air Force and the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, conduct a review to determine whether to reestablish the Department of Defense requirement that Special Victim Investigation and Prosecution‑certified prosecutors participate in SVIP notifications, collaborations, and consultations that was disestablished with the issuance of DoDI 1030.02.

 

Management Comments and Our Response

The Commander, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (USACIDC) agreed with the recommendation, but did not address the resource review. Therefore, the recommendation is unresolved. We request that the CID Director provide comments on the final report.

The NCIS Director and OSI Commander agreed with the recommendation and recently completed resource reviews. NCIS is scheduled to receive additional personnel and funding in FY 2022 and OSI has requested additional personnel. Therefore, this recommendation is resolved and closed.

The USACIDC Commander agreed with the recommendation and recently issued policy specifying how investigators will document communications with SVIP members. Therefore, the recommendation is resolved and closed.

The NCIS Director recently published sexual assault investigation policy specifying how to document communications with SVIP members. NCIS is scheduled to publish revised domestic violence investigation policy with similar guidance in December 2021. Therefore, the recommendation is resolved and open.

The OSI Commander agreed with the recommendation and is currently updating OSI policy to specify how to document communications with SVIP members. Therefore, the recommendation is resolved and open.

We revised a recommendation that the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD [P&R]), in conjunction with the Service Judge Advocates General of the Army, Navy, and Air Force and Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, consider re‑establishing the DoD requirement that SVIP‑certified prosecutors participate in SVIP notifications, collaborations, and consultations. The Military Deputy Director of the Office of Legal Policy in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness told us that his office is currently reviewing the requirements in DoDI 1030.02 and will consider revisions.

 

This report is the result of Proj. No. D2020-DES0SV-0151.000.