Opening Statement by Eric H. Holder, Jr. Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice
Before the Committee on the Judiciary
House of Representatives
September 21, 2000
Good Morning Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. I am here today with other officials from the Justice Department to testify about the Departmentís response to the Inspector Generalís Report on misconduct and mismanagement in the Departmentís International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Progam (ICITAP), its Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT), and the Criminal Divisionís Office of Administration, which was issued a week ago.
I want to begin by thanking Mr. Fine and the Inspector Generalís Office for all their hard work in investigating these allegations and in preparing such an informative Report. It is commendable that the Report does not limit itself to making findings about individual misconduct, but also contains numerous constructive, forward-looking suggestions for how the Department can strengthen the management and integrity of its overseas training programs. The Report, which is over 400 pages and appropriately detailed, remains under review by several Department components with responsibility for addressing the problems it identifies.
While this review of the Report will continue in the coming weeks, the Department has already begun to respond to some of its findings and recommendations. Last week, I asked one of the Departmentís most senior and respected career managers, Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, to be the deciding official for all disciplinary and remedial matters arising out of the Report. Ms. Sawyerís knowledge and managerial experience will help ensure that all decisions about employee discipline and debt collection are made fairly and consistently. We will assure that Ms. Sawyer is fully supported in carrying out these responsibilities.
Because the disciplinary and remedial matters are pending, we are limited, as Iím sure the Committee understands, in what we can say about them. These processes are governed by federal personnel law. The Department will need to review the full record, which includes, in addition to the Inspector Generalís Report, all the relevant witness interviews and underlying documents, the responses of the employees and their history as employees. In the event of substantial disciplinary action, the employee would have a right of appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board. I do not want to say things today that could prejudice individual rights or the process itself, or otherwise create a perception that these administrative matters are being improperly influenced.
The Report concludes that a number of systemic weaknesses may have contributed to the individual misconduct and management breakdowns. The Attorney General and I have asked the Criminal Division and the Justice Management Division to do an immediate and thorough review of the Reportís recommendations for systemic improvements and determine what institutional changes need to be made. Among the matters that we will be looking at are security issues, personnel management within the Criminal Division, the selection and management of contractors, and travel management, including enhanced auditing of travel vouchers.
It is important to emphasize, however, that the Department had taken substantial steps to address a number of systemic problems even before the Report was issued. For example, with respect to security problems, many of the violations were uncovered prior to the Inspector Generalís investigation during the course of security reviews conducted by the Departmentís Security and Planning Staff (SEPS), as well as security reviews by the Criminal Divisionís own Security Staff. In April 1997, SEPS conducted an unannounced sweep of ICITAPís offices and found that despite follow-up on the prior security reviews, there were still serious security problems.
The Department took a number of steps in the aftermath of the April 1997 sweep that have dramatically improved ICITAPís security practices. For instance, shortly after the SEPS security sweep in April 1997, the Department suspended the security clearances of several senior ICITAP managers, and brought in Mary Ellen Warlow, a Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division, to replace Robert Bratt as the ICITAP and OPDAT Coordinator. The Criminal Division Security Staff worked with ICITAP to implement new, improved security procedures, including color-coded security badges which show clearance levels. All ICITAP employees now wear these badges. ICITAP also conducted a systematic review of unsecured files, which were purged of any classified information. All classified materials in the office were relocated to safes in a secured room. The practice of circulating classified information from office to office was halted. The Criminal Division also established new rules addressing contractor and subcontractor security.
The effect of these changes was quickly apparent. When the Criminal Division conducted subsequent sweeps of both ICITAP and OPDAT later that year no unsecured classified documents or other security violations were discovered. Similarly, a subsequent compliance review of ICITAP offices found no security violations.
Additional management and organizational changes were made in 1998 after Jim Robinson became Assistant Attorney General. In 1998, the Criminal Division hired Joseph Jones, a partner with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Schwalb, Donnenfeld & Silbert, and the former Director of the American Bar Associationís Central and East European Law Initiative, to be the new permanent Chief of both OPDAT and ICITAP. Assistant Attorney General Robinson also had his chief of staff personally supervise the two programs for over a year before reassigning supervision to a career Deputy Assistant Attorney General. In February 2000, the Criminal Division hired Rick Lang, a former senior manager and special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to be the Director of ICITAP. Substantial changes in the responsibilities of personnel at lower levels have also been made. This past spring, SEPS conducted another unannounced review of ICITAP, which according to the Inspector Generalís Report "continued to show ICITAPís heightened security awareness and compliance with the rules."
Although the Criminal Division has vastly improved the level of security at ICITAP over the past three years, we intend to use the IGís Report to look for ways to further strengthen our security practices.
In addition to addressing security practices, ICITAP and OPDAT have also already taken steps to address a number of the financial management problems detailed in the Report. For instance, ICITAPís contractors are now required by contract to provide detailed invoice documentation. This required billing data makes it possible to track expenses by region or by country. It also facilitates the detection of improper contractor mark-ups, such as occurred in connection with the Interlog contract in 1996.
ICITAP has also centralized and substantially enhanced its computer systems. Under the old system, which was criticized by the IG, there were often discrepancies between computer records in the field and those in Headquarters. Data had to be transferred within the system by sending computer disks through the mail. Under the new system, all billing information is centralized at Headquarters. The new system also has the capacity to electronically import data directly from contractorsí computers. The new system also has additional internal controls, including a feature that prevents a user from issuing delivery orders that over-commit the available funds in the task order, which had been a problem under the old system.
These are just a few of the systemic changes that ICITAP and the Criminal Division have already made in advance of receiving the IGís Report. By pointing out that the Department has already begun addressing many of the problems discussed in the Report, I do not mean to suggest that we have solved all the problems or that there is not room for further improvement. The IGís Report details some very serious problems and makes a number of thoughtful recommendations for improvement. It will surely be a valuable guide for senior management as we move forward to reinforce and enhance the security and integrity of our overseas training programs.
At this point, we would be happy to answer questions from the Committee.