This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-04-665R entitled 'Information on Selected Personnel Practices at the Justice Department' which was released on May 25, 2004. This text file was formatted by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) to be accessible to users with visual impairments, as part of a longer term project to improve GAO products' accessibility. Every attempt has been made to maintain the structural and data integrity of the original printed product. Accessibility features, such as text descriptions of tables, consecutively numbered footnotes placed at the end of the file, and the text of agency comment letters, are provided but may not exactly duplicate the presentation or format of the printed version. The portable document format (PDF) file is an exact electronic replica of the printed version. We welcome your feedback. Please E-mail your comments regarding the contents or accessibility features of this document to Webmaster@gao.gov. This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without further permission from GAO. 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. April 22, 2004: The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy: Ranking Minority Member: Committee on the Judiciary: United States Senate: The Honorable Charles E. Schumer: Ranking Minority Member: Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts: Committee on the Judiciary: United States Senate: Subject: Information on Selected Personnel Practices at the Justice Department: Dear Senator Leahy and Senator Schumer: This letter responds to your request that we provide information on selected personnel practices at the Justice Department. On March 1, 2004, we briefed your office on the results of our review. This letter transmits information provided during that briefing. Specifically, the slides enclosed in this letter describe (1) Justice's hiring processes for entry-level and lateral (i.e., experienced)[Footnote 1] career attorneys, (2) the types of monetary awards Justice grants to political appointees[Footnote 2] and the number of awards granted from 1993 through 2002, and (3) Justice's selection process for the position of the Assistant Attorney General for Administration. Summary: Justice hires entry-level attorneys through the Attorney General's Honors Program. Conducted on an annual basis, the program is the only way that Justice hires graduating law students. Nine Justice components participate in this program, which include the six litigating divisions (Antitrust, Civil, Civil Rights, Criminal, Environment and Natural Resources, and Tax), the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), and the U.S. Trustees Office.[Footnote 3] Under the direction and management of the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management (OARM), the components are responsible for various aspects of the five-step hiring process. Justice's hiring of lateral attorneys, which occurs on a year-round basis, is a largely decentralized process that involves Justice's 40 components and individual units (i.e., sections or branches) within those components. Each component and unit devises its own process for accomplishing lateral hiring. Justice grants two types of monetary awards to political appointees under Schedule C and noncareer Senior Executive Service (SES) status in recognition of overall high-level performance or a special act or service.[Footnote 4] Granted in the form of lump-sum cash, the two types of awards are (1) the Special Achievement Award for Sustained Superior Performance and (2) the Special Achievement Award for Special Act or Service. From 1993 through 2002, Justice granted a total of 49 monetary awards, at an average award amount of $1,817. The average annual award amount ranged from $375 in 1996 to $3,868 in 2002.[Footnote 5] Justice's selection of an Assistant Attorney General for Administration is based on its merit competition process. That is, the vacancy is announced publicly for a minimum of 14 days. Application screening and candidate selection follow a set of predetermined eligibility requirements based on position qualifications (see apps. I and II). An Executive Resources Board, composed of three SES members nominated by the Deputy Attorney General, selects the best-qualified candidates. These candidates are interviewed by either the Deputy Attorney General or a panel of SES members. The successful candidate is approved by the Attorney General--subject to the President's approval--and certified by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Scope and Methodology: To obtain a general understanding of Justice's hiring processes for entry-level and lateral career attorney positions, we examined relevant documentation and interviewed Justice officials from OARM, the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, and the Justice Management Division. To gain a more in-depth understanding of Justice component roles and responsibilities in these hiring processes, we relied primarily on interviews with officials in four litigating divisions--Antitrust, Civil, Civil Rights, and Environment and Natural Resources. We selected these divisions because they do the majority of entry-level hiring within the Attorney General's Honors Program[Footnote 6]. In addition, we obtained data on aspects of Justice's entry-level hiring process for its 2003 hiring cycle, such as the number of applications Justice received and the number of candidates Justice interviewed. Because we used these data for illustrative purposes only, we did not verify their reliability. To determine the types of monetary awards Justice grants to political appointees, we reviewed applicable laws and regulations and Justice and OPM policies, procedures, and guidelines governing Justice's authority in granting monetary awards to political appointees. We also interviewed Justice and OPM officials on the types of monetary awards Justice grants to political appointees. In addition, we obtained and analyzed data from OPM's Central Personnel Database File (CPDF)[Footnote 7] on the number of monetary awards Justice granted to political appointees from 1993 through 2002. Working with OPM and Justice officials, we were able to verify the accuracy of the CPDF awards data. To determine Justice's selection process for the position of the Assistant Attorney General for Administration, we reviewed relevant statutory provisions governing the hiring and selection of SES members.[Footnote 8] We also reviewed Justice's policies and procedures, including the requirements of the position and the criteria involved in the selection process and interviewed Justice officials. In addition, we obtained data on aspects of the selection process for its most recent hiring cycle,[Footnote 9] such as the number of applications received and the number of final candidates that Justice interviewed for the position. Because we used these data for illustrative purposes only, we did not verify their reliability. We conducted our work from June 2003 through April 2004 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. We provided the Department of Justice with a draft of this report and incorporated its comments as appropriate. As agreed with your offices, unless you announce the contents of this report earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 30 days from the date of this report. At that time, we will send copies to Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee; Senator Jeff Sessions, Senate Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts; and the Honorable John Ashcroft, Attorney General, Department of Justice. We will make copies available to others on request. In addition, the report will be available on GAO's Web site at http:// www.gao.gov. If you or your staff have questions regarding this report, please contact me at (202) 512-8777 or by e-mail at email@example.com or William Crocker III at (202) 512-4533 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Key contributors to this report were David Alexander, Geoffrey Hamilton, Brenda Rabinowitz, John Vocino, Greg Wilmoth, Su Jin Yon, and Kathryn Young. Sincerely yours, Signed by: Paul Jones: Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues: Enclosure: [See PDF for image] [End of figure] [End of section] FOOTNOTES  Lateral attorneys are those who have had a law degree for at least 1 year and are active members of the bar.  Political appointments are generally made by the administration in office to support and advocate the President's political goals and policies. They are noncareer appointments--that is, they are noncompetitive and are not generally subject to the rules for competition that govern career appointments. Political appointees fill positions in the executive branch under various types of appointments. For example, they may hold Schedule C positions, obtain noncareer appointments to the Senior Executive Service (SES), or be presidential appointees.  With the exception of the EOIR and BOP, the Honors Program appointments are for permanent attorney positions. EOIR hires applicants for 1-or 2-year clerkships, while BOP hires applicants for 2-year fellowships.  Schedule C appointee positions, which are graded GS-15 and below, are those that involve determining policy or require a close, confidential relationship with the agency head or other key officials of the agency. Noncareer SES appointee positions are those that normally involve advocating, formulating, and directing the programs and policies of the Administration.  No awards were granted from 1999 through 2001.  We excluded EOIR and BOP from our selection because, as we noted earlier, these agencies hire only for 1-to 2-year clerkships. The other seven Justice participating components hire attorneys on a full-time basis, pending passage of a bar examination.  The CPDF is a database that contains individual records for most executive branch federal agencies and is the primary governmentwide source for information on federal employees.  The position of Assistant Attorney General for Administration is an SES position.  Justice's most recent hiring cycle for this position occurred in 2002.