Collecting debts arising from criminal and civil cases is an important and enormous responsibility for the Department of Justice (Department). The Department’s 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices (USAO) located throughout the country are primarily responsible for the enforcement and collection of debts owed to the United States and the victims of federal crimes. The USAOs have largely assigned this task to their Financial Litigation Units (FLU), though the USAOs’ Criminal Divisions and Asset Forfeiture units also play a role in coordinating with the FLUs to ensure that they can collect debts for victims and the federal government.
At the end of fiscal year (FY) 2014, the principal balance and interest owed on outstanding federal criminal and civil debts totaled $114.6 billion, with criminal debts accounting for about 89 percent of this total.
While the Department has indicated that the collection of debts owed to the United States and crime victims is a priority, the OIG found that, in many cases, USAOs have not put in place the policies and procedures or resources needed to make this a reality. Rather, we found that many USAOs have failed to prioritize debt collection activity and that this has resulted in insufficient staffing of both AUSA and support positions, as well as ineffective collaboration between the FLU and other units in the USAOs thus hindering the ability of the USAOs to fulfill their mission to collect debts.
Debt Collection Program of the United States Attorneys’ Offices