Information on Selected Personnel Practices at the Justice Department
GAO-04-665R: Published: Apr 22, 2004. Publicly Released: May 25, 2004.
This letter responds to a request that we provide information on selected personnel practices at the Justice Department. On March 1, 2004, we briefed Congress 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) career attorneys, (2) the types of monetary awards Justice grants to political appointees 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.
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. Under the direction and management of the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management (OARM), the components are responsible for various aspects of the fivestep 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 highlevel performance or a special act or service. 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. 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. 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).