GAO Finds Most Federal Criminal Restitution Debt is Outstanding

A GAO report has found that most federal criminal restitution debt is outstanding, and oversight of collections needs improvement.

Between 2014 through 2016, information on restitution orders was available for 95 percent of criminal cases, according to GAO. In this time period, restitution was ordered for 33,158 offenders, 15 percent of those sentenced in total; $33.9 billion was due.

An analysis of DoJ data found that the U.S. Attorney’s Office collected $2.95 billion in restitution debt between 2014 and 2016, but at the end of 2016 $110 billion of previously ordered restitution remained outstanding. USAOs identified $100 billion of that debt as uncollectable, due to the offenders’ inability to pay.

DoJ identified debt management as a major initiative in its strategic plan, but GAO found that while the agency is developing tools to monitor collections it has not established any performance measures or goals.

The report makes several recommendations – the first is that judiciary officials should determine why information on whether restitution was ordered is incomplete. It also recommends that the Attorney General should determine performance measures and goals for each USAO, and that in cases where forfeited assets were not used to compensate victims the attorney general should establish why.

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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