Pursuant to Pub. L. No.110-161 (2007), Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) conducted an audit of legislative and public affairs expenses at the DOJ. Specifically, the law stated:
Within 200 days of enactment of this Act, the Inspector General shall conduct an audit and issue a report to the Committees on Appropriations of all expenses of the legislative and public affairs offices at each location of the Justice Department, its bureaus and agencies, including but not limited to every field office and headquarters component; the audit shall include any and all expenses related to these activities.
While the DOJ’s Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) and Office of Public Affairs (PAO) are primarily responsible for DOJ’s legislative and public affairs functions, other DOJ components also conduct a substantial amount of legislative and public affairs activities.
OLA is responsible for coordinating DOJ functions related to legislation and Congress. According to OLA, its mission is to advise appropriate DOJ components on the development of DOJ’s official policies through legislation initiated by DOJ, by other parts of the executive branch, or by members of Congress, and to explain and advocate DOJ’s policies to Congress. The major activities of OLA are to:
maintain liaison, manage, and direct all legislative functions between DOJ and Congress;
consult with and advise the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, and the Associate Attorney General on controversial legislative matters and policy considerations, important policy decisions, new legislative initiatives, and priority decisions;
serve as DOJ’s spokesperson with Congress;
issue guidelines or instructions to assure a coordinated approach is being taken on legislative actions; and
participate in the coordination of DOJ’s position on all proposed legislation.
PAO is the principal point of contact for DOJ with the news media. According to PAO, its mission is to coordinate the relations of DOJ with the news media and serve as the center for information about all organizational units within DOJ. The major activities of PAO are to:
ensure that the public is informed about DOJ’s activities and about the priorities and policies of the Attorney General and the President in the fields of law enforcement and legal affairs;
advise the Attorney General and other DOJ officials on all aspects of media relations and communications issues;
coordinate the public affairs units of all DOJ component organizations;
prepare and issue news releases, and edit and approve releases issued by components;
serve reporters assigned to DOJ by responding to queries, issuing news releases and statements, arranging interviews, and conducting news conferences;
ensure that information provided to the news media by DOJ is current, complete, and accurate; and
ensure that applicable laws, regulations, and policies involving the release of information to the public are followed so that material is not made public that might jeopardize investigations and prosecutions, violate rights of defendants or potential defendants, or compromise national security interests.>
OLA and PAO do not perform all of DOJ’s legislative and public affairs functions. Often, Congress or the press will directly contact specific DOJ components, and thus it would be impractical for OLA or PAO to be involved in every contact with a reporter or congressional staff member. For example, PAO generally performs public affairs functions for DOJ Offices, Boards, and Divisions – primarily the DOJ’s litigating divisions. However, other than providing oversight and coordination, PAO does not perform the public affairs functions of other larger DOJ components such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), and Office of Justice Programs (OJP). Detailed information on the types of legislative and public affairs functions performed by these components is contained in Appendix II.
To determine the types of functions involving DOJ legislative and public affairs, we used mission statements from OLA, PAO, and the legislative and public affairs offices within other DOJ components. Additionally, we distributed a survey requesting that all 40 DOJ components and 94 USAOs provide information on the legislative and public affairs activities performed by their employees. The details of our survey are discussed in the section of this report entitled OIG Audit Approach.
Based on the information obtained, we created a consolidated list of DOJ legislative and public affairs functions.1 For the purposes of this audit, we included the following activities as legislative affairs functions:
coordinating legislative activity and communicating between DOJ components and Congress;
developing legislative proposals;
responding to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and OLA requests for information and questions for the record following congressional hearings; and
preparing briefing papers in anticipation of congressional testimony, witness statements, congressional reports, views letters, and other legislative products.
Additionally, we included the following activities as public affairs functions:
informing the public and press about component activities, priorities, and policies;
responding to inquiries from news organizations; and
coordinating DOJ responses to national media contacts.
Certain functions that could be construed as public affairs were excluded from this audit based on discussions with staff from the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS Appropriations). Specifically, we were informed that the audit was not intended to focus on community outreach, responses to public solicitation of information (i.e., Freedom of Information Act requests), component museum and historian staff, and other functions not related to informing the public and press about component’s activities, priorities, and policies.
In July 2007, the DOJ’s Justice Management Division (JMD) received a request from CJS Appropriations staff to provide staffing information and an expense comparison for legislative and public affairs within DOJ for fiscal years (FY) 2005 through 2007.2
To obtain the requested staffing and expense data, JMD budget staff created a template requesting legislative and public affairs personnel and non‑personnel expenses and staffing information, including the number of staff positions and staff detailed to and from other DOJ components. JMD sent the data request to 29 of the 40 DOJ components. See Appendix III for a list of the 29 components included in the JMD request. JMD received expense and staffing data from 13 components. The remaining components either did not respond or did not report any legislative or public affairs expenses.3 The 13 components that responded to JMD’s request are shown in Table 1.4
COMPONENTS WITH EXPENSE DATA IN JMD REQUEST
BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, FIREARMS AND EXPLOSIVES
DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION
ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES DIVISION
EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR U.S. TRUSTEES
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS
INTERPOL- U.S. NATIONAL CENTRAL BUREAU
OFFICE OF COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING SERVICES
OFFICE OF JUSTICE PROGRAMS
U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE
We obtained a copy of the report on legislative and public affairs expenses and staffing data submitted to Congress by JMD. According to JMD, the 13 components estimated FY 2007 legislative affairs expenses of $664.28 million and public affairs expenses of $917.34 million, for a total of $1.58 billion. However, we determined that due to a spreadsheet formatting error the FY 2007 estimated legislative and public affairs expenses were overstated by $1.56 billion. Specifically, in JMD’s spreadsheet component expense data was required to be formatted “in thousands.” However, the legislative and public affairs expenses for OJP were reported in full rather than in thousands.
After correcting the formatting error, we determined that the estimated FY 2007 amounts JMD reported to Congress for the 13 components should have been legislative affairs expenses of $7.44 million and public affairs expenses of $15.0 million, for a total of $22.43 million, as shown in Table 2.
JMD DATA REQUEST – FISCAL YEAR 2007 ESTIMATES5
(DOLLARS IN THOUSANDS)
|LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS||PUBLIC AFFAIRS||COMBINED|
|EXPENSES||NO. OF POSITIONS||EXPENSES||NO. OF POSITIONS||EXPENSES||NO. OF POSITIONS|
|FBI||$2,087||34||$ 5,145||75||$ 7,232||109|
As shown in Table 2, the 13 components estimated 77 positions performing legislative affairs and 142 positions performing public affairs. The position totals were not affected by the error related to FY 2007 expenses.
Of the 77 legislative affairs staff reported in the JMD request, 74 staff were career appointees, 2 were political appointees, and 1 was not categorized as either a career or political appointee. The components also reported a total of seven staff detailed to or from their components to perform legislative affairs. However, component responses did not indicate whether the 7 staff were included within the 77 total positions.
Of the 142 public affairs staff reported, all were career staff. The components also reported a total of six staff detailed to or from their component to perform public affairs. Again, component’s responses did not indicate whether these 6 staff were included within the 142 total positions.
Our audit used JMD’s data request as an initial framework, especially with regard to the use of federally defined expense categories (object classes) to request consistent expense data.7 However, our audit differed from the JMD review in that the scope of our audit was more comprehensive. Specifically:
Our audit included an OIG survey of all 40 DOJ components and 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices (USAO) to identify the types of legislative and public affairs functions performed and all components that performed significant legislative or public affairs functions.
In addition to headquarters staff and staff assigned to components’ legislative or public affairs offices, our audit included staff performing legislative or public affairs functions in component field offices as well as USAO staff.
In addition to staff performing these functions on a full-time basis, our audit included staff performing legislative or public affairs as a significant collateral duty.
The OIG audit of legislative and public affairs expenses within DOJ:
identified DOJ agencies, offices, and divisions that perform legislative or public affairs functions;
obtained data for all FY 2007 legislative and public affairs expenses and staffing within DOJ; and
analyzed the legislative and public affairs expense data provided by the components.
Our audit covered FY 2007 legislative and public affairs expenses and staffing among all 40 DOJ components and the 94 USAOs. Additionally, we interviewed officials at OLA and PAO to obtain background information on legislative and public affairs functions and we conducted interviews at JMD to obtain information on a similar congressional request that JMD received from congressional staff in FY 2007.
To identify DOJ agencies, offices, and divisions that perform legislative or public affairs functions, we administered a survey to all 40 DOJ components and 94 USAOs requesting information on FY 2007 legislative and public affairs functions. Appendix IV and V include lists of DOJ components and USAOs included in our survey. The purpose of the survey was to obtain:
information on components performing legislative or public affairs functions;
information on the types of legislative and public affairs functions performed;
the number of staff performing legislative or public affairs functions on either an exclusive basis or as a collateral duty; and
the number of staff detailed to or from components for the purpose of performing legislative or public affairs functions.
Using the responses to our survey, we identified the components with offices dedicated to legislative or public affairs that had staff performing a significant amount of legislative or public affairs functions in FY 2007. We defined “significant” as at least one staff performing legislative or public affairs functions for an average of 25 percent or more of their time per week in FY 2007 (or 10 hours per week based on a 40-hour per week work schedule), during the period in which they were assigned to perform these functions. We used the 25-percent threshold because we did not want to include incidental, non‑recurring activities such as those associated with component staff completing an occasional press release or providing an intermittent response to OLA. The results of our survey are discussed in further detail in the Findings and Recommendations section of this report.
To obtain data for all FY 2007 legislative and public affairs expenses within DOJ, we distributed a data request to the components and USAOs identified in our survey that had offices dedicated to legislative or public affairs or staff performing a significant amount of legislative or public affairs functions in FY 2007. Appendix IV and V contain lists of DOJ components and USAOs included in our expense and staffing data request. We requested that the components provide:
summary and detailed FY 2007 legislative or public affairs personnel and non-personnel expenses for all component offices of legislative and public affairs, headquarters offices, field offices, and USAOs;
detailed staffing information for all full-time staff and staff performing legislative or public affairs as a significant collateral duty; and
estimated percentage of time spent on legislative or public affairs functions for all staff performing these functions as a significant collateral duty.
We analyzed the expense information and supporting documentation provided by the components to identify miscalculations and inconsistencies, and compiled the expense data. Additionally, we:
obtained and analyzed information on the number of staff detailed to or from other components;
obtained a list of all DOJ General Schedule (GS) series 1035 Public Affairs Specialist staff from the National Finance Center, the organization that processes the DOJ payroll; and
reconciled the list of GS-1035 Public Affairs Specialists to the public affairs expense and staffing data provided by the DOJ components and USAOs to ensure that we had received expense and staffing data for all public affairs specialists.
There is no specific Office of Personnel Management classification series for legislative affairs staff. Therefore, we could not obtain a list of staff performing legislative affairs functions from the National Finance Center to perform a similar analysis of the legislative affairs expense and staffing information provided by the components and USAOs in response to our data request.
Our audit did not assess the adequacy of component information systems, internal controls, or estimation methodologies used to respond to our survey and data request. Additional information related to the audit objectives, scope, and methodology is contained in the Findings and Recommendations sections of this report and in Appendix I.
To ensure that the consolidated list of DOJ legislative and public affairs functions identified during our audit met the needs of Congress, we contacted the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, responsible for the audit request and described the types of functions for which we intended to acquire expense data. Based on our discussions, we were informed that our planned audit approach met the intent of the congressional request.
CJS Appropriations staff also requested that JMD provide expense data for intergovernmental affairs offices within DOJ. However, CJS Appropriations staff did not request intergovernmental affairs expense data for our audit.
JMD also sent its data request to the following offices: (1) the Wireless Management Office, part of JMD; (2) the Executive Office for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, a multi-agency drug enforcement program; and (3) DOJ Asset Forfeiture Fund staff. None of these offices reported legislative or public affairs expenses.
The Executive Office for Immigration Review responded but was not included in JMD’s results because its information was not received in a timely manner. As a result, JMD’s data request did not include EOIR’s estimated FY 2007 public affairs expenses of $547,000 for 5 career staff and 1 staff detailed from EOIR.
Throughout this report, differences in the total amounts are due to rounding. Additionally, differences in total percentages as compared to the sum of individual component percentages are due to rounding.
Object classes are “categories in a classification system that presents obligations by the items or services purchased by the federal government.... Obligations are recorded when the federal government places an order for an item or service, awards a contract, receives a service, or enters into similar transactions that will require payments in the same or a future period.”