Skip navigation

GAO Briefing on Second Chance Act 2010

Download original document:
Brief thumbnail
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.
~

GAO

AccO<lnlBblilly • Integrity· Relleblilty

United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548

July 14, 2010
The Honorable Barbara Mikulski
Chairman
The Honorable Richard Shelby
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. Senate
The Honorable Alan Mollohan
Chairman
The Honorable Frank R. Wolf
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives

Subject: Federal Bureau of Prisons: BOP Has Mechanisms in Place to Address
Most Second Chance Act Requirements and Is Working to Implement an Initiative
Designed to Reduce Recidivism

This letter formally transmits the enclosed briefing in response to the Conference
Report accompanying the Fiscal Year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R.
Rep. No. 111-366, at 673-74 (2009) (Conf. Rep)), which directed us to evaluate BOP’s
strategic approach to budgeting for its inmate re-entry programs, including activities
related to the Second Chance Act (SCA). To conduct this work, we analyzed the
Federal Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) programs, activities, and management initiatives
that play a key role in implementing SCA requirements, such as the Inmate Skills
Development Initiative (ISDI). Through ISDI, BOP intends to measure skills inmates
acquired through effective reentry programs with the goal of reducing rates of
recidivism. We also evaluated BOP’s processes and initiatives that play a key role in
implementing SCA, such as ISDI, to determine the extent to which BOP followed
leading practices for planning, implementing, and identifying resources needed for
projects.
In summary, BOP has mechanisms in place to address most SCA requirements and is
working to implement ISDI to meet the remaining requirements, estimated to be
complete in 2014 at the earliest. However, BOP has not fully applied leading program
management practices to its efforts to implement ISDI, an initiative which could
GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

strengthen BOP’s ability to facilitate the successful re-entry of inmates into their
communities by addressing inmate skills gaps. Specifically, BOP has not fully
developed a detailed ISDI implementation plan, including a comprehensive cost
estimate. BOP officials stated that they have not fully developed a detailed ISDI
implementation plan, including a cost estimate, because key decisions that would
affect the project plan and schedule are pending. Until BOP develops an
implementation plan and cost estimate, it may be difficult to assess BOP’s progress
towards realizing ISDI and identify ISDI’s impact on the successful reentry of inmates
into their communities. Thus, we are recommending that BOP establish a plan for the
remaining steps needed to implement SCA requirements, specifically ISDI, and
develop a comprehensive cost estimate for the remaining ISDI requirements that
should include costs associated with data validation and program evaluation, among
others. For additional information and a summary of the results of our work, see slide
10.
In commenting on a draft of this briefing, the Department of Justice concurred with
our recommendations and provided technical comments that we incorporated where
appropriate.
We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional committees.
We are also sending copies to the Attorney General of the United States, as well as
the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. This report will also be available at no
charge on our Web site at http://www.gao.gov. Should you or your staff have
questions concerning this report, please contact me at (202) 512-8777 or
MaurerD@gao.gov. Contact points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and
Public Affairs may be found on the last page of this report. Key contributors to this
report were Glenn Davis, Assistant Director; Karen Richey, Assistant Director; Janet
Temko, Senior Attorney; Pedro Almoguera, Senior Economist; Lori Kmetz, Senior
Analyst; Anthony Fernandez, Senior Analyst; and Darreisha Bates, Analyst.

David C. Maurer
Director, Homeland Security and Justice
Enclosure

Page 2

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

Enclosure

GAO

AccountabU ty • Inlegrfty •

R~I.bllllY'

Federal Bureau of Prisons: BOP Has Mechanisms in Place to
Address Most Second Chance Act Requirements and Is Working
to Implement an Initiative Designed to Reduce Recidivism

Briefing for
Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related
Agencies, Committees on Appropriations, United States
Senate and House of Representatives
June 30, 2010

Page 3

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

! GAO
t6ff=. ..............y.
R"~""y
1nI......, •

Briefing Overview
• Introduction
•
•
•
•

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology
Summary
Background
Findings

•
•
•
•
•

Conclusions
Recommendations
Agency Comments and Our Evaluation
Appendix I
Appendix II

2

Page 4

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

! GAO
t6ff=. ..............y.
R"~""y
1nI......, •

Introduction
• The Second Chance Act of 2007: Community Safety through Recidivism
Prevention (SCA),1 which imposed new requirements on the Federal Bureau
of Prisons (BOP) to facilitate the successful re-entry of offenders into their
communities and reduce the rate of recidivism, was enacted in April 2008.2
• BOP’s SCA requirements include, among others, identifying, tracking,
addressing, and reporting on inmate skills needs; providing medical support to
inmates for re-entry, including through community partnerships; and reporting
to Congress on recidivism rates.
• In December 2009, Congress raised questions regarding the cost—estimated
by BOP earlier that year to be approximately $75 million—to implement BOP’s
requirements under SCA.
• Congress directed BOP to provide a detailed description of the coordinated
prisoner re-entry strategy required by SCA, along with the estimated costs of
full implementation of the strategy as part of its fiscal year 2011 budget
submission.
1
2

Page 5

Pub. L. No. 110-199, 122 Stat. 657.
Recidivism is the act of committing new criminal offenses after having been arrested or convicted of a crime.

3

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

! GAO
t6ff=. ..............y.
R"~""y
1nI......, •

Objectives
The Conference Report accompanying the Fiscal Year 2010 Consolidated
Appropriations Act directed us to evaluate BOP’s strategic approach to
budgeting for its inmate re-entry programs, including SCA activities.3 In
accordance with this mandate, this briefing addresses the following two
objectives:
1. To what extent has BOP developed mechanisms to implement programs
and activities pursuant to SCA?
2. To what extent has BOP followed leading practices of program
management, including estimating cost, to implement its process to
facilitate the successful re-entry of inmates into their communities?

3 H.R.

Page 6

Rep. No. 111-366, at 673-74 (2009) (Conf. Rep).

4

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

! GAO
t6ff=. ..............y.
R"~""y
1nI......, •

Scope and Methodology: Objective 1
To determine the BOP mechanisms in place to implement the required SCA programs
and activities, we:
•

analyzed the SCA and identified 12 requirements within the legislation that require
BOP implementation;

•

analyzed BOP documentation of policy changes related to the SCA, including
federal regulations, policy papers, statements of work, memoranda for chief
executive officers, and BOP program statements, which set out program changes
and guidance, to determine if BOP established mechanisms to implemented SCA
requirements;

•

analyzed the status of specific BOP processes or management initiatives that play
a key role in implementing SCA requirements, such as the Inmate Skills
Development Initiative (ISDI), which is BOP’s process that measures skills inmates
acquire through effective re-entry programs with the goal of reducing rates of
recidivism; and

•

interviewed knowledgeable officials to learn how BOP implemented its SCA
responsibilities.
5

Page 7

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

! GAO
t6ff=. ..............y.
R"~""y
1nI......, •

Scope and Methodology: Objective 1
•

We compared the information provided in BOP documents and reported
by officials with the SCA requirements and identified the mechanisms
BOP has in place to enable it to meet SCA requirements and those for
which it is developing mechanisms. We did not determine whether BOP
had fully complied with all SCA requirements nor did we evaluate the
effectiveness of the actions BOP has taken to implement SCA.
• Mechanisms in place—BOP has documented policies,
regulations, memoranda of understanding, reports or other
mechanisms to enable BOP to meet SCA requirements; and
• Mechanisms in progress—BOP has provided documentation that
mechanisms are being developed to enable BOP to meet SCA
requirements.

6

Page 8

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

! GAO
t6ff=. ..............y.
R"~""y
1nI......, •

Scope and Methodology: Objective 2
To determine the extent to which BOP has followed leading practices of program
management, including estimating cost, to implement its process to facilitate the
successful re-entry of inmates into their communities, we:
•

analyzed Congressional Budget Office SCA implementation cost estimates and
the President’s Congressional Budget Justification submissions for BOP from
fiscal years 2008 through 2011 to understand the cost implications of the SCA,
and BOP’s justification for its funding requests;

•

reviewed criteria presented in GAO’s Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide,
specifically chapters 7 (Technical Baseline Description, Definition and Purpose)
and 18 (Managing Program Costs: Planning), as well as The Standard for Program
Management to determine leading practices for planning, implementing, and
identifying resources needed for projects;4

•

evaluated BOP’s processes and initiatives that play a key role in implementing
SCA, such as ISDI, to determine the extent to which BOP followed leading
practices for planning, implementing, and identifying resources needed for
projects.

4 GAO, Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide, GAO-09-3SP (Washington, D.C.: March 2009); and Project Management Institute’s The
Standard for Program Management © (2006).

Page 9

7

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

! GAO
t6ff=. ..............y.
R"~""y
1nI......, •

Scope and Methodology: Objective 2
•

relied on BOP data to determine a likely range of costs related to the
number of inmates in Residential Reentry Centers (RRC, known as
halfway houses) and length of stay;

•

interviewed BOP officials about the sources of the data and the controls
BOP had in place to maintain the integrity of the data and determined that
the data were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of our report; and

•

interviewed BOP budget and program officials and reviewed available
documentation of the activities BOP has taken to implement SCA
requirements, and compared these efforts with select program
management and cost estimating criteria, to determine additional actions,
if any, needed to fully implement SCA requirements.

8

Page 10

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

! GAO
t6ff=. ..............y.
R"~""y
1nI......, •

Scope and Methodology
•

We conducted this performance audit from January 2010 through June
2010 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the work to
obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
our findings and conclusions based on our objectives. We believe that the
evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
conclusions based on our objectives.

9

Page 11

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Summary
•

•

•

BOP has mechanisms in place to address most SCA requirements and is working to
implement ISDI to meet the remaining requirements, estimated to be complete in
2014 at the earliest. Through ISDI, BOP intends to assess inmate skill levels, target
programming recommendations, and measure skills inmates acquire through
effective re-entry programs, with the goal of reducing rates of recidivism.
BOP is developing ISDI to facilitate the successful re-entry of inmates into their
communities by addressing inmate skills deficits. Applying leading management
practices—including an implementation plan for the remaining ISDI work, and cost
estimate—could strengthen BOP’s ability to facilitate the successful re-entry of
inmates into their communities. BOP officials stated that they have not developed a
detailed ISDI implementation plan and cost estimate for the remaining ISDI work
because key decisions that would impact the project plan and schedule are pending.
Until BOP does so, it may be difficult to assess BOP’s progress towards realizing
ISDI and identify ISDI’s impact on the successful re-entry of inmates into their
communities.
We recommend that BOP establish a plan for the final steps to implement SCA
requirements, specifically ISDI, and develop a comprehensive cost estimate for the
remaining ISDI requirements.

10

Page 12

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Background
•

•

Congress passed SCA, among other things, to encourage the development and
support of, and to expand the availability of, programs that enhance public safety
and reduce recidivism.
BOP uses inmate re-entry programs to reduce recidivism. Re-entry programs assist
inmates in acquiring skills needed for reintegration into the community through
various services, including educational and vocational training, work programs, and
drug rehabilitation.

•

According to the fiscal year 2011 President’s Congressional Budget Justification for
BOP, in fiscal years 2009 and 2010, BOP reported that funding for its inmate reentry programs was about $500 million and $560 million, respectively, and its inmate
re-entry program funding request for fiscal year 2011 is for about $580 million.

•

BOP officials report that as of June 2010, they are responsible for the custody and
care of about 211,000 federal inmates.

11

Page 13

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Objective 1: BOP Has Mechanisms in Place to
Address Most of Its SCA Requirements
•

•

•

BOP has mechanisms in place to address 9 of 12 SCA requirements, as shown in
table 1. For example, BOP has a 2008 memorandum of understanding with the Social
Security Administration and a December 2007 internal Program Statement for the
Inmate Release Preparation Program in place, which outlines actions to help inmates
apply for benefits. BOP officials stated that they are developing mechanisms for the
remaining SCA requirements.
BOP provided documentation to demonstrate its progress in meeting SCA
requirements, including federal regulations, policy papers, statements of work,
memoranda for chief executive officers, and BOP program statements, which set out
program changes and guidance.
In assessing whether BOP had mechanisms in place to address SCA requirements,
we did not determine whether BOP had fully complied with all SCA requirements nor
did we evaluate the effectiveness of the actions BOP has taken to implement SCA.
Therefore, where we state that BOP has “mechanisms in place” to address an SCA
requirement, it does not necessarily mean that BOP has done all that is necessary to
implement that particular requirement or that it has done so effectively. See appendix
I for additional information on BOP’s actions taken for the SCA requirements.
12

Page 14

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Objective 1: BOP Has Mechanisms in Place to
Address Most of Its SCA Requirements
Table 1: GAO Assessment of BOP’s 12 Statutory Requirements
Mechanism Mechanism
Second Chance Act—
in place in progress
BOP is required to:
x
§ 213: Adopt and implement a policy to ensure that mentors to
inmates are allowed to continue the mentoring relationship once the
offender is released, and provide Congress with a status report.
§ 214: Discontinue a program to standardize religious materials
available in BOP chapel libraries.
§§ 231(a)(1), 231(d)(2): Establish a strategy that assesses inmates’
skills, develops skills development plans, determines program
assignments, gives priority to high-risk inmate populations,
coordinates with partners nationwide to assist in inmate re-entry,
and provides incentives for participation in skills development
programs; code and track inmate needs, evaluate and report on
progress addressing those needs.5

x
x

5 Because BOP has indicated that ISDI is both the strategy and the means to measure the removal of obstacles to re-entry (i.e., responsibilities under §
231(a)(1) and § 231(d)(2)), we have assessed its implementation of those SCA provisions together.

13

Page 15

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Objective 1: BOP Has Mechanisms in Place to
Address Most of Its SCA Requirements
Table 1: GAO Assessment of BOP’s 12 Statutory Requirements (continued)
Mechanism Mechanism
Second Chance Act—
in place in progress
BOP is required to:
§ 231(b): Assist inmates in obtaining identification, such as a Social
x
Security card or driver’s license, prior to release.
§ 231(c): Modify policies and procedures related to the transition of
x
inmates to the community.
§ 231(d)(1): Help inmates apply for federal/state benefits, and
x
provide information on education and employment, among other
areas.
§ 231(d)(3): Report to Congress on recidivism rates for inmates in
x
re-entry programs compared to general population.6
§ 231(d)(4): Use common terminology and language on re-entryx
related written information BOP provides to inmates.
6 BOP did not provide a report on recidivism for inmates in re-entry programs compared to the general population for fiscal year 2009, the first reporting year
required under SCA. BOP officials stated that they intend to provide a recidivism report by the early part of fiscal year 2011, once they have collected data for
a full 3-year post release period. BOP officials stated that they use a 3-year post release period to gauge recidivism rates. Because BOP did not submit the
required report for fiscal year 2009, we determined that a mechanism is in progress.

14

Page 16

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Objective 1: BOP Has Mechanisms in Place to
Address Most of Its SCA Requirements
Table 1: GAO Assessment of BOP’s 12 Statutory Requirements (continued)
Mechanism Mechanism
Second Chance Act—
in place in progress
BOP is required to:
x
§ 231(d)(5): Alert probation system of the medical/mental health
needs of releasing inmates and provide necessary medications.
§ 231(f): Give inmates in community confinement facilities
access to medical/mental health care through local partnerships.

x

§ 231(g): Create a pilot program for early release to home
detention of eligible elderly inmates.

x

§ 251: Place eligible inmates in a community confinement for not
more than 12 months (previously 6 months or 10% of the
inmate’s sentence, whichever is less) and issue associated
regulations.

x

15

Page 17

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Objective 1: BOP Plans to Complete the Remaining
Requirements through Implementation of a Process to
Enhance Inmate Skills
•

The focal point of BOP’s efforts to address the remaining SCA requirements is ISDI, which
is estimated to be complete in the year 2014 at the earliest.

•

BOP’s vision for ISDI (see figure 1) is to target inmate programming recommendations,
based on skill deficits identified through the assessment process, with the ultimate goal of
reducing recidivism rates by enhancing skills through effective programs.
Another goal of ISDI, according to BOP officials, is to identify and track programs that
meet the skills needs of inmates and reduce recidivism, expand access to those effective
programs, and eliminate programs that are found not to meet the skills needs of inmates.

•

•

•

BOP has begun to implement ISDI by conducting baseline inmate skills assessments of
inmates in the federal prison system. Assessments are conducted through a structured
interview, behavioral observations, and use of supplemental assessment instruments
(e.g., Test of Adult Basic Education).
According to BOP officials, the additional phases of ISDI are intended to match the
inmate’s assessed needs against re-entry programs designed to meet those identified
inmate needs.

16

Page 18

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Objective 1: BOP Plans to Complete the Remaining
Requirements through Implementation of a Process to
Enhance Inmate Skills
Figure 1: BOP’s Vision for the Inmate Skills Development Initiative
Incarceration Begins,
Inmate Placed in
BOP Facility

BOP Conducts
Baseline Inmate
Skills Assessment
Against Nine
Competencies

BOP Targets
Programs to
Address Skill
Needs

Daily Living

Mental Health
Wellness

Academic
Vocational
Leisure
Character

Source: GAO analysis of BOP documents.

Page 19

BOP Transitions Inmate
to Community Typically
Through
¾ Residential re-entry
Center (RRC) and/or

BOP Tracks
Progress to
Address Inmate’s
Skill Needs
through Regular
Program Reviews

Cognitive

Interpersonal

BOP Generates
Inmate’s Individual
Development Plan

¾ Home Confinement

BOP Releases Inmate
Desired Outcome:
Reduce Recidivism

Key Facts
• BOP officials reported that they release approximately 45,000 inmates per year
back into U.S. communities.
• BOP prioritizes the inmate skills assessment process, focusing on new inmates,
followed by prisoners slated for release within 1 to 4 years.
• BOP reported plans to undertake agencywide activities for the Inmate Skills
Development Initiative, such as validating the quality of data collected on inmate
skills needs, building community partnerships to strengthen re-entry programs,
and measuring re-entry program outcomes.

17

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Objective 2: BOP’s Use of Leading Program Management
Practices Could Strengthen Its Ability to Facilitate the
Successful Re-entry of Inmates into Their Communities
•
•

•

BOP is developing ISDI to facilitate the successful re-entry of inmates into their
communities by addressing inmate skills deficits.
In our review of select leading practices for program management, effective and
efficient operations require detailed plans that capture key activities, delineate the
program schedule, identify personnel requirements, and provide a comprehensive
cost estimate. Applying these leading management practices to the work remaining
in developing and implementing ISDI could strengthen BOP’s ability to facilitate the
successful re-entry of inmates into their communities, as shown in table 2.
BOP has made progress in carrying out actions to fully implement ISDI, such as
loading data for at least 78 percent of the inmate population in the ISDI database.
According to BOP officials, while data for each inmate entered in the system may not
be complete, staff are able to use the information in conjunction with other
documentation as a basis for programming recommendations in preparation for reentry. Work remains to increase the completeness of the data, assess the quality of
the data, and identify additional programs for linkage to skill deficits identified. See
appendix II for a detailed description of BOP’s work completed and work remaining
for the actions necessary to fully implement ISDI.
18

Page 20

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Objective 2: BOP’s Use of Leading Program Management
Practices Could Strengthen Its Ability to Facilitate the
Successful Re-entry of Inmates into Their Communities
Table 2: ISDI Program Management Compared to Leading Practices
Leading Explanation
GAO analysis
practice
• In planning documents we have reviewed, BOP has not fully
Capturing Planning
identified the discrete activities that need to be completed related to
processes
key
ISDI work, such as for data validation. BOP developed a general
activities should
strategy for ISDI in 2001 (with updates from 2004 through May
identify key
2010). These documents include summary-level phases, rather
activities of a
than key activities, and lack operational details.
program with
the needed • BOP has completed a number of activities to implement ISDI. For
operational
example, a skills assessment instrument to collect information from
details and
inmates across the nine competency areas has been put into place
serve as a
along with training on its use. BOP has also identified ISDI work
plan for how
that remains to be completed, for example, the validation of the
the program
data used in the inmate assessments.
will be
• Capturing key activities—like those related to data validation—may
managed.
help BOP plan, track, and maintain project control and ensure that
all intended activities are completed and outcomes achieved.
Source: GAO analysis based on evaluating BOP’s provided documentation against select leading practices contained in GAO, Cost
Estimating and Assessment Guide, GAO-09-3SP (Washington, D.C.: March 2009) and Project Management Institute’s The Standard for
Program Management © (2006).

Page 21

19

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Objective 2: BOP’s Use of Leading Program Management
Practices Could Strengthen Its Ability to Facilitate the
Successful Re-entry of Inmates into Their Communities
Table 2: ISDI Program Management Compared to Leading Practices (continued)
Leading Explanation
GAO analysis
practice
• In planning documents we have reviewed, BOP has not fully
Delineating Program
delineated an ISDI program schedule with discrete activities and
schedules
the
their duration and sequence, including for activities to link an
should
program
inmates’ skill deficits with programs to fill those deficits. BOP has
identify key
schedule
provided time frames for a number of activities it has completed to
events, such
implement ISDI. For example, in December 2002 the nine
as milestone
competencies were finalized; in August 2006, the inmate skills
reviews, and
assessment instrument was developed.
address key
program
• In the 2010 strategic plan, scheduling for program linkage to skill
activities,
deficits was categorized as ongoing or to be decided. This key
including
aspect of ISDI renders it more than an automated case management
their
system.
duration and • Delineating a complete program schedule may help BOP ensure that
sequence.
programs shown to meet inmates’ skill deficits through ISDI are
expanded as soon as practicable.
Source: GAO analysis based on evaluating BOP’s provided documentation against select leading practices contained in GAO, Cost
Estimating and Assessment Guide, GAO-09-3SP (Washington, D.C.: March 2009) and Project Management Institute’s The Standard for
Program Management © (2006).

Page 22

20

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Objective 2: BOP’s Use of Leading Program Management
Practices Could Strengthen Its Ability to Facilitate the
Successful Re-entry of Inmates into Their Communities
Table 2: ISDI Program Management Compared to Leading Practices (continued)
Leading
Explanation
GAO analysis
practice
• In planning documents we reviewed, BOP offices or individuals
Roles and
Identifying
responsible for completing key implementation activities are not
responsibilities
personnel
identified. For example, BOP has not identified who is
requirements for execution
responsible for ISDI’s key activities, such as conducting data
and
validation and developing performance measures for BOP
management
programs. BOP has identified the general responsibilities of the
of the program
Program Linkage Committee (that is to complete program
should be
worksheets that identify skill areas/deficits) but its composition
identified, and
linked to key
and roles and responsibilities of members are not yet known.
activities and
• BOP officials report that regular, internal ISDI meetings include
time frames.
all relevant personnel needed to implement ISDI activities.
• Identifying personnel requirements may help BOP instill
accountability and responsibility for the ISDI activities that need
to be completed.
Source: GAO analysis based on evaluating BOP’s provided documentation against select leading practices contained in GAO, Cost
Estimating and Assessment Guide, GAO-09-3SP (Washington, D.C.: March 2009) and Project Management Institute’s The Standard for
Program Management © (2006).

Page 23

21

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Objective 2: BOP’s Use of Leading Program Management
Practices Could Strengthen Its Ability to Facilitate the
Successful Re-entry of Inmates into Their Communities
Table 2: ISDI Program Management Compared to Leading Practices (continued)
Leading
Explanation
GAO analysis
practice
Estimating A cradle-to-grave • BOP has not developed a cost estimate for implementing
ISDI in future years. BOP is currently gathering data to better
costs
cost estimate
inform a future cost estimate related to ISDI implementation.
provides a
• BOP provided us a cost estimate for ISDI through fiscal
comprehensive
year 2011, which states that future costs for program
accounting of all
linkage have not yet been developed.
resources required
• In addition, BOP has not yet identified future costs
to develop and
associated with data validation, training, program
sustain a particular
evaluations, development, and programming
program.
implementation, among other key activities.
• BOP has identified funding for ISDI requested through
the regular budget cycle that could be included in a
comprehensive cost estimate.

Source: GAO analysis based on evaluating BOP’s provided documentation against select leading practices contained in GAO, Cost
Estimating and Assessment Guide, GAO-09-3SP (Washington, D.C.: March 2009) and Project Management Institute’s The Standard for
Program Management © (2006).

Page 24

22

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Objective 2: BOP’s Use of Leading Program Management
Practices Could Strengthen Its Ability to Facilitate the
Successful Re-entry of Inmates into Their Communities
• BOP officials stated that BOP had not fully captured key activities,
delineated the program schedule, identified personnel requirements, and
estimated costs because key decisions that would impact the project plan
and schedule are pending.
• BOP’s cost estimate for ISDI is not comprehensive. Cost estimating
provides valuable information to help determine whether a program is
feasible, how it should be designed, and resources needed to support it.
• It may be difficult for BOP to manage resources, make resource allocation
decisions, and ensure accountability as a result of not taking these
program management steps. Specifically, it may be difficult for BOP to
estimate the future costs of implementation associated with ISDI because it
has not fully delineated key activities, time lines, and roles and
responsibilities; and it may be difficult to maximize resources without
program controls to guide the ISDI implementation; and to inform the future
allocation of resources for re-entry programs.
23

Page 25

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Conclusion
• BOP has put in place mechanisms to fulfill most provisions of SCA and
additional efforts are under way to complete ISDI implementation. ISDI is
designed to allow BOP to determine the optimal allocation of resources for
re-entry programs. Therefore, it is critical that BOP has sound management
controls to guide the effort and ensure success.
• Applying leading management practices, including the development of a
comprehensive and reliable cost estimate, to this process could help BOP
ensure completion of ISDI and strengthen its ability to facilitate the
successful re-entry of offenders into their communities.

24

Page 26

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Recommendations for Executive Action
To help ensure that BOP meets its requirements under the SCA, we
recommend the Attorney General of the United States direct the BOP
Director to take the following two actions:
1.

2.

establish a plan for the remaining steps needed to implement ISDI
that describes the key tasks necessary for its implementation,
assigns responsibility for these tasks, and establishes time lines for
implementation; and
develop a comprehensive cost estimate for the remaining ISDI
requirements that, at a minimum, should include costs associated
with data validation, training, program evaluations, development, and
implementation, among other key activities.

25

Page 27

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Agency Comments
• We provided a draft of these briefing slides to the Department of Justice
(DOJ) and BOP for review and comment. In an e-mail received on June 25,
2010, DOJ concurred with the recommendations in our report and did not
provide written comments to include in this report. DOJ also provided
technical comments which we incorporated as appropriate.

26

Page 28

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Appendix I: BOP’s Actions to Address SCA
Requirements
Table 3: GAO Assessment of BOP’s Actions Taken to Address 12 Statutory Requirements
Mechanism Mechanism
Second Chance Act—
in place
in progress
BOP is required to:
x
§ 213: Adopt and implement a policy
to ensure that mentors to inmates are
allowed to continue the mentoring
relationship once the offender is
released, and provide Congress with
a status report.
x
§ 214: Discontinue a program to
standardize religious materials
available in BOP chapel libraries.

Actions taken
BOP has a March 2009
policy expanding post
release mentoring.

BOP has a September
2007 Memorandum for
Chief Executive
Officers titled “Chapel
Library Project update,”
which discontinued the
program.
27

Page 29

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Appendix I: BOP’s Actions to Address SCA
Requirements
Table 3: GAO Assessment of BOP’s Actions Taken to Address 12 Statutory Requirements
Mechanism
Second Chance Act—
in place
BOP is required to:
§§ 231(a)(1), 231(d)(2): Establish a strategy that
assesses inmates’ skills, develops skills
development plans, determines program
assignments, gives priority to high-risk inmate
populations, coordinates with partners nationwide
to assist in inmate re-entry, and provides
incentives for participation in skills development
programs; code and track inmate needs, evaluate
and report on progress addressing those needs.

Mechanism
in progress
x

Actions
taken
See
appendix
II.

28

Page 30

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Appendix I: BOP’s Actions to Address SCA
Requirements
Table 3: GAO Assessment of BOP’s Actions Taken to Address 12 Statutory Requirements
Second Chance Act— Mechanism Mechanism
in place in progress
BOP is required to:
§ 231(b): Assist inmates
in obtaining
identification, such as a
Social Security card or
driver’s license, prior to
release.
§ 231(c): Modify policies
and procedures related
to the transition of
inmates to the
community.

Actions
taken
BOP has a 2008 memorandum of
understanding (MOU) with the Social
Security Administration and a December
2007 internal Program Statement (PS) for
the Inmate Release preparation program,
which outlined actions to assist inmates in
obtaining identification.

x

x

See appendix II.

29

Page 31

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Appendix I: BOP’s Actions to Address SCA
Requirements
Table 3: GAO Assessment of BOP’s Actions Taken to Address 12 Statutory Requirements
Second Chance Act— Mechanism Mechanism
in place in progress
BOP is required to:
§ 231(d)(1): Help inmates
x
apply for federal/state
benefits, and provide
information on education
and employment, among
other areas.
x
§ 231(d)(3): Report to
Congress on recidivism
rates for inmates in reentry programs compared
to general population.

Actions
taken
BOP has a 2008 MOU with the Social
Security Administration and a
December 2007 internal PS for the
Inmate Release Preparation Program
in place, which outlines actions to
help inmates apply for benefits.
BOP has determined that use of a 3year post release period is optimal in
collecting recidivism data and plans
to provide a report to Congress by
early fiscal year 2011 once data has
been fully collected.

30

Page 32

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Appendix I: BOP’s Actions to Address SCA
Requirements
Table 3: GAO Assessment of BOP’s Actions Taken to Address 12 Statutory Requirements
Mechanism Mechanism
Second Chance Act—
in place
in progress
BOP is required to:
§ 231(d)(4): Use common
x
terminology and language on reentry-related written information
BOP provides to inmates.

§ 231(d)(5): Alert probation
system of the medical/mental
health needs of releasing
inmates and provide necessary
medications.

x

Actions
taken
A 1998 Presidential Order
requires federal agencies to
use plain language. BOP
provides staff training to
address the use of plain and
common language.
BOP developed a PS for
Pharmacy Services in
January 2005 and has a
1999 MOU in place with the
probation system, which
addresses inmate
medical/mental health alerts.

31

Page 33

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Appendix I: BOP’s Actions to Address SCA
Requirements
Table 3: GAO Assessment of BOP’s Actions Taken to Address 12 Statutory Requirements
Second Chance Act—
BOP is required to:

Mechanism Mechanism
in place in progress

§ 231(f): Give inmates in
community confinement facilities
access to medical/mental health
care through local partnerships.

x

§ 231(g): Create a pilot program
for early release to home
detention of eligible elderly
inmates.
§ 251: Place eligible inmates in a
community confinement for not
more than 12 months (previously
6 months or 10% of the inmate’s
sentence, whichever is less) and
issue associated regulations.

x

x

Source: GAO analysis of SCA requirements and BOP documents.

Page 34

Actions
taken
BOP’s has an August 2007 statement
of work in place with RRC
contractors, which includes a
requirement to give inmates access
to medical/mental health care.
BOP has a February 2009 policy,
which outlines an early release
program for elderly inmates.
BOP has an April 2008 policy and
associated regulations, which outline
the discretionary authority to place
eligible inmates in RRCs for not more
than 12 months.
32

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Appendix II: BOP Plans to Complete SCA
Requirements through Implementation of Its Process
to Enhance Inmate Skills
BOP reports that it plans to take the following eight actions specified by SCA legislation
to fully implement ISDI :
1. Assess each inmate’s skill level; identify, code the re-entry needs and deficits
of inmates and produce an individual skills development plan for each
inmate.8
•
Work completed: BOP reports that it has completed some development
of the ISDI tool. BOP has loaded biographical data for 78 percent of the
inmate population into the ISDI database. According to BOP officials,
while data for each inmate entered in the system may not be complete,
staff are able to use the information along with other documentation as
a basis for programming recommendations to prepare to re-entry.
•
Work remaining: BOP officials plan to complete skills assessment and
produce an individual skills development plan for all inmates, develop
reporting capabilities in ISDI, and finalize an interface between ISDI
and an existing information system. BOP officials report that completing
the skills assessment and producing an individual skills development
plan for all inmates may be completed in 2012, and they are unsure
when the reporting capabilities and planned interface will be completed.
8 § 231(a)(1)(A),

Page 35

(F), (d)(2)(A).

33

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Appendix II: BOP Plans to Complete SCA
Requirements through Implementation of Its Process
to Enhance Inmate Skills
2.

Generate a skills development plan for each inmate; determine re-entry
program assignments based on skill needs; track progress in responding to
inmates’ needs and deficits.9
•
Work completed: According to BOP, it has tracked individual inmate
needs and skill deficits manually, and is currently producing some
automated reports that identify the percentage of inmates with partial
information loaded into ISDI. Although some individual assessment
information has been entered into ISDI, there is no report available to
determine the number of assessments that are complete.
•

9§

Page 36

Work remaining: BOP officials state that they plan to develop ISDI
reporting capabilities to monitor the extent to which inmates have been
assessed against the nine competencies, as well as the agency’s
progress in responding to inmate needs and deficits (e.g., presently BOP
is unable to aggregate the total number of completed inmate
assessments/individual plans).

231(a)(1)(B)–(C), (d)(2)(B).

34

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Appendix II: BOP Plans to Complete SCA
Requirements through Implementation of Its Process
to Enhance Inmate Skills
3.

Give priority to re-entry program participation to certain high-risk
inmate populations (e.g., sex offenders, career criminals).10
• Work completed: BOP has recognized the need to give high-risk
inmate populations priority placement in re-entry programs.
•

10 §

Page 37

231(a)(1)(D).

Work remaining: BOP officials state that this goal is on hold
pending further implementation of ISDI.

35

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Appendix II: BOP Plans to Complete SCA
Requirements through Implementation of Its Process
to Enhance Inmate Skills
4.

Coordinate and collaborate with other federal, state, tribal, and local criminal justice
agencies, community- and faith-based organizations to help inmates re-enter
communities.11
•
Work completed: BOP assisted in creating the National Offender Workforce
Development Partnership to bring together a number of federal partners,
including the Department of Labor, to enhance inmate re-entry success
through career-oriented opportunities. For example, BOP and the U.S.
Probation Department have partnered on a program at select institutions to
prepare inmates for employment searches upon release from custody, first
being offered in December 2007. Further, BOP requires RRC contractors to
develop community partnerships to assist with inmate re-entry.
•

11§

Page 38

231(a)(1)(E).

Work remaining: BOP officials state that they intend to continue fostering
community partnerships through the efforts of ISDI coordinators, who are in
the process of being hired. According to the positions descriptions, the
coordinators serve as a liaison between BOP facilities and headquarters to
facilitate the implementation of ISDI, and provide support and resources for
the development of community and other agency partnerships.
36

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Appendix II: BOP Plans to Complete SCA
Requirements through Implementation of Its Process
to Enhance Inmate Skills
5.

12 §

Provide incentives for inmate participation in BOP skills development
programs.12
•
Work completed: According to BOP, it has various incentive systems in
place for inmates to participate in skills development programs. For
example, an inmate may earn financial awards, preferred living quarters,
and access to exercise equipment and movies based on participation in
BOP programs.
•
Work remaining: The SCA provided BOP the discretion to use additional
time in a RRC as an incentive to participate in ISDI.13 BOP is also
required to follow specific eligibility criteria when evaluating an inmate for
RRC placement, such as the resources of the facility contemplated, and
the nature of the criminal offense, among others.14 BOP officials stated
that they are in the process of re-examining their RRC policies to focus
on implementation of evidence-based research for inmate placement
decisions with the goal of reducing recidivism. Specifically, BOP’s
Executive Committee was provided with a paper/overview on recidivism
and RRC placement. According to BOP officials, a guidance
memorandum for field operations was issued on June 24, 2010.

231(a)(1)(G).
§ 231(a)(2)(A).
14 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b).
13

Page 39

37

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Appendix II: BOP Plans to Complete SCA
Requirements through Implementation of Its Process
to Enhance Inmate Skills
6.

Submit an annual report to the Judiciary Committees on BOP’s
progress in addressing re-entry needs and skill gaps of inmates.15
• Work completed: BOP met this annual reporting requirement by
providing a report to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees
in May 2009.
•

15 §

Page 40

231(d)(2)(C).

Work remaining: BOP is subject to an annual requirement to
provide a report on re-entry needs and deficits of inmates to the
House and Senate Judiciary Committees. According to BOP
officials, the next report was due to the committees in May 2010,
but is expected to be delivered in June 2010.

38

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Appendix II: BOP Plans to Complete SCA
Requirements through Implementation of Its Process
to Enhance Inmate Skills
7.

16 §

Page 41

Ensure that BOP facilities’ performance in enhancing inmates’ skills
and resources is evaluated using recognized measures and develop
corrective action plans as necessary.16
• Work completed: BOP stated that it has formed a committee that
is leading efforts to develop an inventory of BOP’s re-entry
programs nationwide and is developing preliminary outcome
measures (measures that addresses the results of products and
services delivered by a program) in collaboration with field staff at
each institution.
• Work remaining: According to BOP officials, BOP plans to
complete the development of outcome measures in early 2011,
with ongoing refinement. BOP plans to develop corrective actions
after the committee identifies and evaluates these programs
using its outcome measures.

231(d)(2)(D).

39

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

!

tIi=.

GAO
R.'~""y

Appendix II: BOP Plans to Complete SCA
Requirements through Implementation of Its Process
to Enhance Inmate Skills
8.

17 §

231(c).

Modify policies and procedures related to the transition of inmates to
the community.17
• Work completed: BOP stated that it is currently reviewing its
policies and procedures for modifications based on ISDI.
• Work remaining: According to BOP officials, no policies and
procedures have been modified to date, and any modification will
require union review. BOP officials state that they plan to
complete the modification of policies and procedures based on
the results of ISDI.

40

(440852)

Page 42

GAO-10-854R BOP and the Second Chance Act

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the
United States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety
without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain
copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be
necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately.

GAO’s Mission

The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and
investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its
constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and
accountability of the federal government for the American people. GAO
examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies;
and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help
Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO’s
commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of
accountability, integrity, and reliability.

Obtaining Copies of
GAO Reports and
Testimony

The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no cost
is through GAO’s Web site (www.gao.gov). Each weekday afternoon, GAO
posts on its Web site newly released reports, testimony, and
correspondence. To have GAO e-mail you a list of newly posted products,
go to www.gao.gov and select “E-mail Updates.”

Order by Phone 	

The price of each GAO publication reflects GAO’s actual cost of
production and distribution and depends on the number of pages in the
publication and whether the publication is printed in color or black and
white. Pricing and ordering information is posted on GAO’s Web site,
http://www.gao.gov/ordering.htm.
Place orders by calling (202) 512-6000, toll free (866) 801-7077, or
TDD (202) 512-2537.
Orders may be paid for using American Express, Discover Card,
MasterCard, Visa, check, or money order. Call for additional information.

To Report Fraud,
Waste, and Abuse in
Federal Programs

Contact:

Congressional
Relations

Ralph Dawn, Managing Director, dawnr@gao.gov, (202) 512-4400
U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7125
Washington, DC 20548

Public Affairs

Chuck Young, Managing Director, youngc1@gao.gov, (202) 512-4800
U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7149
Washington, DC 20548

Web site: www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm
E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov
Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470

Compliments of:

www.FedCURE.org

 

 

PLN Subscribe Now Ad
PLN Subscribe Now Ad 450x450
Stop Prison Profiteering Campaign Ad 2