Counterterrorism remains the Justice Department’s major management challenge, Acting Inspector General Cynthia A. Schnedar said Monday, in her annual memo on top 10 issues the department faces.
“Although the country and the Department have made considerable progress over the past decade to combat terrorism, the present era of budget and deficit reduction means that significant challenges remain in protecting the country from those who would do it harm while not shortchanging the Department’s other important missions,” the IG said in the memo. “In addition, domestic terrorism also remains a significant concern, as illustrated by the January 2011 discovery of an improvised explosive device alongside a parade route in Spokane, Washington, and by the increasing dangers posed by anti-government militia extremism. Examination of the circumstances of the September 11 attacks makes it clear that the Department must ensure that it accurately processes, manages, and shares the information it has regarding known and suspected terrorists.”
Schnedar said that this was the fifth straight year that the department’s financial statements balanced without material weaknesses, so she removed financial management issues from the list. However, she added the challenge of implementing cost savings and efficiencies to the list, recognizing the budget problems facing the federal government.
The IG only addresses the current controversy facing the department–Operation Fast and Furious, a failed gun tracing operation–in general terms.” The OIG is reviewing the development and implementation of Operation Fast and Furious and similar investigations, including matters such as the involvement of Department components and other law enforcement or government entities in the investigations; information sharing issues among the agencies; the guidelines and other internal controls in place and compliance with those controls during the investigations; and the investigative outcomes,” Schnedar said.
In addition the IG continued to list restoring public confidence in the department as a major issues. She said the IG has included that on the list since 2007, in the wake of the questionable firing of U.S. Attorneys by the George W. Bush administration. While the department has taken steps to attempt to gain public confidence, DOJ officials have not resolved a major issue surrounding the politically motivated firings of the U.S. Attorneys. The department, the IG said, what questions a prospective employee may be asked and what questions are prohibited.
The IG also is tackling the controversial issue of enforcement of voting rights by the department’s Civil Rights Division. “The review is examining the types of cases brought by the Voting Section and any changes in the types of cases over time; any changes in Voting Section enforcement policies or procedures over time; whether the Voting Section has enforced the civil rights laws in a non-discriminatory manner; and whether any Voting Section employees have been harassed for participating in the investigation or prosecution of particular matters,” the memo states.
In the memo, the IG states that her office is conducting several other investigations and audits, including:
- An examination of how the FBI uses the terrorist watch list, as well DOJ’s use of terrorism statistics.
- The use of National Security letters.
- Allegations of civil rights violations in the use of material witness warrants.
- Monitoring the department’s management of technology systems, including the FBI Sentinel project, as well as the department’s Unified Financial Managing System.
- An evaluation of the FBI’s Integrity and Compliance Program, which was established in the wake of allegations that the agency was misusing National Security letters.
The memo list the following major management issues facing the department:
- Implementing cost savings and efficiencies.
- Southwest border security
- Protecting civil rights and civil liberties.
- Information technology systems planning, implementation and security.
- Criminal law enforcement
- Restoring public confidence in the department.
- Financial enforcement.
- Detention and incarceration.
- Grants and contracts management.