Today, Congressman Tom Marino and Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman, Ron Johnson (WI), requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a review of the Federal Bureau of Prison's (BOP) staffing procedures and practices to assess how staffing levels contribute to safety conditions at BOP facilities.
Existing GAO work product has shown that BOP has a shortage of correctional officers, stressing the existing BOP workforce and potentially creating safety concerns. To address the shortage of correctional officers, BOP relies on a practice known as "augmentation," in which administrative employees serve temporarily as correctional officers.
Although a 2012 GAO review noted concerns with unfilled positions and increased inmate-to-staff ratios, the review did not assess the BOP-wide use of augmentation. With the safety concerns related to BOP staffing procedures and practices, we believe the federal government would benefit from an up-to-date review of these procedures and practices. Given the GAO's expertise on oversight and use of federal resources, reports such as this often have a large impact on shaping public policy. Congressman Marino and Senator Johnson asked for this review in order to gather more information on this pressing issue.
Congressman Marino has been a leader on issues related to BOP staffing procedures and their effects on safety. Marino has sent numerous letters to the Department of Justice and Bureau of Prison leadership focused on staffing ratios, staffing cuts, and transfers of specially trained staff and other resources away from needed locations.
Congressman Marino issued the following statement:
"The Bureau of Prisons can and must do more to ensure that correctional officers in our federal prisons are operating in a safe work environment. These dangerous staffing levels that contribute to incidents of violence are unacceptable. The Bureau needs to take a comprehensive look at these policies and make sure they are doing everything possible to maintain safety and order in their prisons.
I hope that this report, when completed, will bring more attention, perspective, and information to these staffing policies and procedures so that we do not jeopardize the safety and security of correctional officers, inmates, and the general public."