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U.S. Marshals’ Gross Mismanagement Undervalues Complex Assets 2011/09/20

Posted by nydawg in Archives, Electronic Records, Records Management.
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People often wonder, “Why does anyone need a good, honest, ethical records manager anyway?”  or “Why don’t universities offer better programs in records management?” and “why do people responsible for hiring records managers not understand what records managers should do?” or maybe “what does the USMS Ethics Officer do?”

I wish I knew the answers, but here’s an interesting article revealing how shoddy records management can be described as Gross Mismanagement! “The unit of the United States Marshals Service that manages complex assets seized in criminal cases, including that of Bernard L. Madoff, kept such shoddy records that it could not say who bought assets or how much was paid for them in 8 of the 55 sales it handled from 2005 to 2010, according to an audit released on Tuesday. . . . . The report said that the auditors found significant problems in how the service managed complex assets and that those problems “increased the risk that the government could mismanage the administration and disposition of forfeited assets.” The team disposed of $136 million in seized and forfeited assets from January 2005 to August 2010. “This audit identified numerous deficiencies in the procedures the complex asset team implemented to track, safeguard, value and dispose of complicated and valuable assets,” the report said. The report added that the team’s overseer, the Asset Forfeiture Division, did not “vigorously oversee” the team. Read all about it in “Auditors Find Chaos in U.S. Marshal’s Asset Sale Record-Keeping“!

So where are all those jobs anyway? From the audit: “Additionally, we found that the limited staff and resources of the Complex Asset Team were disproportionate to its responsibilities.  From 2005 to 2009, the number of staff varied between two and four individuals. . . . While the 14 forfeiture financial specialist contractors had extensive experience relevant to forfeiture, their primary assignment during Briskman’s tenure was to assist USMS district offices and not the Complex Asset Team.” . . . “Between 2005 and 2010, the small staff of the Complex Asset Team disposed of over $136 million in assets, yet it operated in an environment lacking the procedures to guide its actions and decisions pertaining to seized and forfeited assets.” . . . Uh, hold on, so four employees were responsible for keeping records on $136 million in assets?! $34 million per employee?! I wonder what their daily salaries were!

“Further, we identified inaccuracies in some monthly reports Briskman compiled. The summaries Briskman provided for many assets stated, “No change from previous report.” Yet, when we compared these entries to previous entries for such assets, we noted that some of the entries contained unexplained changes from the previous monthly status report. For example, the listed taxable profit amount for one asset varied from $9.5 million to $12 million between different reports; however, the entries provided to summarize the changes for this particular asset in subsequent reports were “no change from previous report.”

and check out the recommendations including: “Recommendation 20: Ensure that managers know that they must thoroughly review financial disclosure forms and disclose any potential conflicts of interest to the USMS ethics office.”  Read the DoJ “AUDIT OF THE UNITED STATES MARSHALS SERVICE
COMPLEX ASSET TEAM MANAGEMENT AND OVERSIGHT” here.

dk

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