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    Subject Term: Lawyers

    4 publications with a total of 22 open recommendations including 9 priority recommendations
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    11 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better address current and future staffing needs, the Director of EOIR should develop and implement a strategic workforce plan that addresses, among other areas, key principles of effective strategic workforce planning, including (1) determining critical skills and competencies needed to achieve current and future programmatic results; (2) developing strategies that are tailored to address gaps in number, deployment, and alignment of human capital approaches for enabling and sustaining the contributions of all critical skills and competencies; and (3) monitoring and evaluation of the agency's progress toward its human capital goals and the contribution that human capital results have made toward achieving programmatic results.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR officials reported that its Immigration Court Staffing Committee, established in April 2017, would, among other things, examine how to best leverage the judicial and court staff workload model to address its short- and long-term staffing needs, assess the critical skills and competencies needed to achieve future programmatic results, and develop strategies to address human capital gaps. This committee expects to complete its work in March 2018. EOIR also reported that it is developing an agency-wide strategic plan that includes human capital planning as a critical component, which will be used to guide workforce planning for the entire agency. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR's Immigration Court Staffing Committee should complete its work and provide documentation demonstrating that it: 1) addressed the agency's short- and long-term staffing needs; 2) identified the critical skills and competencies needed to achieve future programmatic results; and 3) developed strategies to address human capital gaps. EOIR should also provide documentation, including the completed strategic plan, describing how the agency tailored its human capital strategies to address gaps in the number, deployment, and alignment of human capital approaches; and is monitoring and evaluating the agency's progress toward its human capital goals.
    Recommendation: To better address EOIR's immigration judge staffing needs, the Director of EOIR should: (1) assess the immigration judge hiring process to identify opportunities for efficiency; (2) use the assessment results to develop a hiring strategy that targets short- and long-term human capital needs; and (3) implement any corrective actions related to the hiring process resulting from this assessment.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it is actively implementing a new streamlined hiring plan that aims to reduce the hiring timeline. According to EOIR, this revised hiring plan, among other things, sets clear deadlines for assessing applicants moving through different stages of the process and for making decisions on advancing applicants to the next stage, as well as allows for temporary appointments for all selected judges pending full background investigations. EOIR stated that it will use this revised process in the future to fill judge vacancies. Regarding the development of a hiring strategy, EOIR stated that it recognizes the importance of assessing immigration judge hiring needs holistically to continue to develop an overall immigration judge hiring strategy, and will utilize a planned human capital strategy and additional data to further refine the hiring process. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should continue its efforts to assess and improve its hiring process and provide documentation describing: 1) its new hiring process, including how EOIR assessed the prior hiring process to identify opportunities for efficiency; 2) its hiring strategy targeting short- and long-term human capital needs; and (3) the corrective actions EOIR implemented in response to the assessment results, such as eliminating procedures that increased the length of the hiring process.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that EOIR meets its cost and schedule expectations for EOIR Courts and Appeals Systems (ECAS), the EOIR Director should identify and establish the appropriate entity for exercising oversight over ECAS through full implementation.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, EOIR reported that it had selected the EOIR Investment Review Board to serve as the ECAS oversight body with the Office of Information Technology (OIT) directly responsible for the management of the ECAS program. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should provide documentation related to this decision.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that EOIR meets its cost and schedule expectations for ECAS, the EOIR Director should document and implement an oversight plan that is consistent with best practices for overseeing IT projects, including (1) establishing how the oversight body is to monitor program performance and progress toward expected cost, schedule, and benefits; (2) ensuring that corrective actions are identified and assigned to the appropriate parties at the first sign of cost, schedule, or performance slippages; and (3) ensuring that corrective actions are tracked until the desired outcomes are achieved.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, EOIR reported that it had selected the EOIR Investment Review Board to serve as the ECAS oversight body with the Office of Information Technology (OIT) directly responsible for the management of the ECAS program. According to EOIR, OIT will record on a weekly basis all financial metrics, risks, issues, and corrective actions in EOIR's project management tool, as well as regularly evaluating the program's performance and progress and immediately implementing any needed corrective actions. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should document and implement an oversight plan that describes how the EOIR Investment Review Board and OIT will oversee the full implementation of ECAS, including how these bodies will, consistent with best practices for overseeing IT projects: 1) monitor program performance and progress toward expected cost, schedule, and benefits; (2) ensure that corrective actions are identified and assigned to the appropriate parties at the first sign of cost, schedule, or performance slippages; and (3) ensure that corrective actions are tracked until the desired outcomes are achieved.
    Recommendation: To provide further assurance that EOIR's use of video teleconference (VTC) in immigration hearings is outcome-neutral, the Director of EOIR should collect more complete and reliable data on the number and type of hearings it conducts through VTC.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it is studying how to collect more complete and reliable data on the number and type of hearings it conducts through video teleconference (VTC). To fully address this recommendation, once EOIR determines how to collect more complete and reliable VTC hearing data, EOIR should provide documentation describing its approach and evidence of its implementation.
    Recommendation: To provide further assurance that EOIR's use of VTC in immigration hearings is outcome-neutral, the Director of EOIR should collect data on appeals in which the use of VTC formed some basis for the appeal, and the number of in-person hearing motions filed.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it is planning a pilot project to collect data on the number and type of appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in which the use of video teleconference (VTC) formed an element of the basis for the appeal. EOIR expects to begin this 6-month pilot project in the first quarter of fiscal year 2018. Additionally, EOIR stated that it will assess the feasibility of collecting data on the number of filed motions requesting an in-person hearing instead of a VTC hearing. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should continue these efforts and begin systematically collecting data on appeals in which the use of VTC formed some basis for the appeal and the number of in-person hearing motions filed.
    Recommendation: To provide further assurance that EOIR's use of VTC in immigration hearings is outcome-neutral, the Director of EOIR should use these and other data to assess any effects of VTC on immigration hearings and, as appropriate, address any issues identified through such an assessment.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it intends to analyze data on appeals in which the use of VTC formed some basis for the appeal from the Board of Immigration Appeals' pilot program as well as other data to further assess any effects of video teleconference (VTC) usage on immigration hearings. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should, pending the results of the pilot program, use these and other data to assess any effects of VTC on immigration hearings and, as appropriate, address any issues identified through such an assessment.
    Recommendation: To further ensure that EOIR's VTC hearings meet all user needs and help EOIR identify and address technical issues with VTC hearings, the Director of EOIR should develop and implement a mechanism to solicit and monitor feedback from respondents regarding their satisfaction and experiences with VTC hearings, including the audio and visual quality of the hearing.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it partially agreed with this recommendation and would create a mechanism to solicit open-ended feedback from respondents regarding their satisfaction and experience with video teleconference (VTC) hearings, including the audio and visual quality of the hearing. EOIR reported that it is exploring and expects to implement some options by the first quarter of fiscal year 2018, such as a feedback portal on the EOIR website, a dedicated e-mail box, or a comment card for distribution to respondents at immigration courts and detention centers where VTC hearings are held. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should continue to explore and implement a mechanism to solicit and monitor feedback from respondents regarding their satisfaction and experiences with VTC hearings, including the audio and visual quality of the hearing.
    Recommendation: To better assess court performance and use data to identify potential management challenges, the Director of EOIR should establish and monitor comprehensive case completion goals, including a goal for completing non-detained cases not currently captured by performance measures, and goals for cases it considers a priority.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it agrees that the agency should measure case completions in all categories and is evaluating the best way to measure its courts' performance to improve efficiency and productivity. Additionally, EOIR reported that it is working with the immigration judges' union to conduct this assessment and expects to complete this evaluation and begin working toward making any changes to its performance assessment system by the second quarter of fiscal year 2018. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should continue these efforts and establish and monitor comprehensive case completion goals, including a goal for completing non-detained cases not currently captured by performance measures, and goals for cases it considers a priority.
    Recommendation: To better assess court performance and use data to identify potential management challenges, the Director of EOIR should systematically analyze immigration court continuance data to identify and address any operational challenges faced by courts or areas for additional guidance or training.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it will further analyze continuance data to identify and address operational challenges as well as determine areas where immigration judges might benefit from additional guidance or training on the use of continuances. EOIR plans to prepare new reports assessing continuance data by the first quarter of fiscal year 2018. Additionally, EOIR reported that it anticipates releasing a new Operating Policies and Procedures Memorandum addressing the appropriate use of continuances in August 2017. To fully address this recommendation, EOIR should continue to systematically analyze continuance data to identify any operational challenges faced by courts or areas for additional guidance or training, and address any challenges through taking actions such as issuing the new memorandum on continuances.
    Recommendation: To better assess court performance and use data to identify potential management challenges, the Director of EOIR should update policies and procedures to ensure the timely and accurate recording of Notices to Appear.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, EOIR stated that it partially agreed with this recommendation and will continue to monitor the timeliness and accuracy of NTA recording and implement corrective actions as needed. Additionally, EOIR stated that it will explore the need to create new guidance for immigration court staff to address instances where EOIR exceeds average recording times timeframes in the future. To fully implement this recommendation, EOIR should update its policies and procedures to better ensure the timely and accurate recording of NTAs, and thus provide greater assurance that EOIR's case management data are accurate, including case completion times and the size of its case backlog.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    8 open recommendations
    including 8 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that FBI whistleblowers have access to recourse under DOJ's regulations should the individuals experience retaliation, and to minimize the possibility of discouraging future potential whistleblowers, the Attorney General should clarify in all current relevant DOJ guidance and communications, including FBI guidance and communications, to whom FBI employees may make protected disclosures and, further, explicitly state that employees will not have access to recourse if they experience retaliation for reporting alleged wrongdoing to someone not designated in DOJ's regulations.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that complainants receive the periodic updates that they are entitled to and need to determine next steps for their complaint, such as whether or not to seek corrective action from OARM, Counsel, DOJ-OPR should tailor its new case management system or otherwise develop an oversight mechanism to capture information on the office's compliance with regulatory requirements and, further, use that information to monitor and identify opportunities to improve DOJ-OPR's compliance with regulatory requirements.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Professional Responsibility
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management (OARM) and Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) should provide parties with an estimated time frame for returning each decision, including whether the complaint meets threshold regulatory requirements, merits, and appeals. If the time frame shifts, OARM and ODAG should timely communicate a revised estimate to the parties.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of the Deputy Attorney General
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management (OARM) and Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) should provide parties with an estimated time frame for returning each decision, including whether the complaint meets threshold regulatory requirements, merits, and appeals. If the time frame shifts, OARM and ODAG should timely communicate a revised estimate to the parties.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Justice Management Division: Human Resources and Administration: Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of the Deputy Attorney General
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Justice Management Division: Human Resources and Administration: Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Professional Responsibility
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Inspector General
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, GAO has not received information from the Department of Justice about any steps taken to address this recommendation.
    Director: Garcia-diaz, Daniel
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To further improve agency controls that help prevent payments to participants whose incomes exceed eligibility limits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FSA to implement a process to verify that accountants' and attorneys' statements accurately reflect participants' incomes as reported on income tax returns and supporting documentation or other equivalent documents.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department agreed with this recommendation at the time of our report but, as of April 2017, has not acted to implement it because of the sensitive nature of questioning accountants' and attorneys' professional judgement. However, we believe doing so would reduce the likelihood of improper payments supported by U.S. taxpayers and would be an appropriate action for the agency to take.
    Director: Jones, Yvonne D
    Phone: (202) 512-9095

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: If pilot projects are approved by EEOC, the Acting Chairman of EEOC should direct pilot project officials to develop for each pilot project an evaluation plan that includes key features to improve the likelihood that pilot project evaluations will yield sound results, such as (1) well-defined, clear, and measurable objectives; measures that are directly linked to the program objectives; criteria for determining pilot program performance; (2) a way to isolate the effects of the pilot programs; (3) a data analysis plan for the evaluation design; and (4) a detailed plan to ensure that data collection, entry, and storage are reliable and error free.

    Agency: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EEOC officials, the agency is in the process of proposing changes in regulations that would allow use of the pilot programs. The EEOC must then send the guidance to OMB for its approval. Depending on what happens during that process, the guidance could be returned to EEOC for additional consideration. However, once approved, the EEOC can then implement the pilot programs and address our recommendations. These recommendations were to include an evaluation plan in the programs. As part of the evaluation plan, we also recommended that the EEOC adopt an appropriate methodology that could assess the success of the programs. Therefore, we are keeping the recommendation open. 12/2011: In providing comments on this report, EEOC concurred with this recommendation. While the agency has not implemented the recommendation, it is proposing changes to the Federal sector regulatory process that would allow the use of pilot projects subject to Commission approval. EEOC has sent a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to 170 agencies to solicit their comments on pilot programs to test alternative approaches to administering the EEOC complaint process. EEOC has received and is reviewing comments from the 33 agencies which submitted comments on the proposed draft. According to an EEOC official, EEOC currently is analyzing the comments on the NPRM and drafting the Final Rule. Once approved by EEOC, we will request and review EEOC's plans to evaluation the pilot projects. 5/28/13: According to EEOC, pilot projects in the Federal sector were included in the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that would modify EEOC regulations governing the Federal Sector process. That regulation is currently under consideration by the Commission. At the time of our contact, EEOC did not have a timeframe for a decision. Further, after EEOC's decision, it would then go to OMB for review and approval before the final rule is published. We recently contacted the EEOC and have a meeting scheduled for 12/17/16 to discuss the status of the pilot program and the recommendations.
    Recommendation: If pilot projects are approved by EEOC, the Acting Chairman of EEOC should direct commission staff to review and approve pilot projects' evaluation plans to increase the likelihood that evaluations will yield methodologically sound results, thereby supporting effective program and policy decisions.

    Agency: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EEOC officials, the agency is in the process of proposing changes in regulations that would allow use of the pilot programs. The EEOC must then send the guidance to OMB for its approval. Depending on what happens during that process, the guidance could be returned to EEOC for additional consideration. However, once approved, the EEOC can then implement the pilot programs and address our recommendations. These recommendations were to include an evaluation plan into the programs. As part of the evaluation plan, we also recommended that the EEOC adopt an appropriate methodology that could assess the success of the programs. Therefore, we are keeping the recommendation open. 12/2011: In providing comments on this report, EEOC concurred with this recommendation. While the agency has not implemented the recommendation, it is proposing changes to the Federal sector regulatory process that would allow the use of pilot projects subject to Commission approval. EEOC has sent a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to 170 agencies to their solicit comments on pilot programs to test alternative approaches to administering the EEOC complaint process. EEOC has received and is reviewing comments from the 33 agencies who submitted comments on the proposed draft. According to an EEOC official, EEOC currently is analyzing the comments on the NPRM and drafting the Final Rule. Once approved by EEOC, we will request and review information on EEOC's efforts to review and approve evaluation plans for the pilot projects. 12/23/2011: According to EEOC, pilot projects in the Federal sector were included in the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that would modify EEOC regulations governing the Federal Sector process. That regulation is currently under consideration by the Commission. At the time of our contact, EEOC did not have a timeframe for a decision. Further, after EEOC's decision, it would then go to OMB for review and approval before the final rule is published. We recently contacted the EEOC and have a meeting scheduled for 12/17/16 to discuss the status of the pilot program and the recommendations.