Feb 11, 4:52 PM EST

Watchdog finds progress since "Fast and Furious" operation



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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department has made progress since a failed gun-smuggling sting operation known as Fast and Furious, but more work needs to be done, according to a watchdog report issued Thursday.

The report from the department's inspector general found that the department had put in place four of six recommendations it issued in 2012, in the aftermath of Fast and Furious and another gun trafficking operation known as Wide Receiver managed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The report praised the department for tightening its policies, including about sensitive operations and certain gun trafficking investigations, and for creating a working group to study the use of confidential informants and other law enforcement tactics.

"The department has taken very seriously the misconduct uncovered in Operations Fast and Furious and Wide Receiver, and we're pleased the inspector general has recognized the significant changes we have made in both our law enforcement and litigating components to address public safety risks that may arise during law enforcement investigations and operations," Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said in a statement.

But while the inspector general praised the ATF for "significant progress" since its first report, it also said that other law enforcement agencies with the Justice Department "had not taken sufficient steps to institute policies to avoid repetition of the errors we identified."

In particular, the report said there needed to be tighter policies across all of the department's agencies on firearm transfers. And it suggested that the Drug Enforcement Administration needed to revise its policies on confidential informants.

"We will continue to monitor the department's efforts in these areas to ensure the law enforcement components have fully applied the lessons of Fast and Furious to their own policies," Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in a statement.

Under Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF allowed gunrunners to buy weapons in hopes of tracking them and disrupting Mexican gun-smuggling rings. Two of the guns were found at the scene of the 2010 shooting death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in southern Arizona, according to the report.

Many top bureau leaders were subsequently reassigned following revelations of the botched operation.

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