WASHINGTON – As part of Attorney General Eric Holder’s call for cost-cutting measures to streamline operations and reduce spending during a time of constrained funding, the Department of Justice today announced that it will realign functions in various offices, lower lease costs by consolidating or reducing office space and continue to look for ways to more effectively utilize the department’s resources. The measures respond to the President’s and the Attorney General’s directives to reduce spending and to develop operational efficiencies. The total cost savings for the actions announced today total more than $130 million.
In January 2011, Attorney General Holder issued a memorandum ordering a department-wide temporary hiring freeze and also instructed all components to limit travel, training and conference spending to only those needs that are essential. The department’s efforts have yielded significant reductions in conference spending in the first three quarters of Fiscal Year 2011, with conference spending down by $14 million over the same period last year. The Attorney General’s order, which is still in place, was designed to keep the department operating effectively within constrained funding levels.
“The Department of Justice is seeking ways to do more with less while we maintain our commitment to our critical law enforcement mission and our most important public safety priorities,” said Attorney General Holder. “These cost-saving and efficiency measures have assisted us in utilizing our limited resources in the most effective way possible. We will continue to identify additional areas where we can achieve savings and efficiencies to streamline our operations.”
Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole provided further guidance to component heads in a February 2011 memorandum seeking operational and programmatic efficiencies in order to ensure sufficient funding for the department’s essential public safety missions, including protecting Americans against terrorism and threats to national security, and protecting against violent crimes.
The department highlighted the success of the Attorney General’s Advisory Council for Savings and Efficiencies (SAVE Council), which thus far, has provided more than $51 million in savings to the department. The SAVE Council, which was created in July 2010, provides a framework to identify and implement best practices for saving taxpayer money, realizing efficiencies, and monitoring the department’s savings progress. The following are examples of additional SAVE Council actions:
Administrative Notices on Forefeiture.gov – An initiative is underway to publish administrative asset forfeiture notices on the Internet instead of in newspapers. This initiative will reduce costs by $4.5 million annually, simplify the noticing process, and increase the availability of information to the public – ensuring that more of the ill-gotten gains from criminal activities will be available to fight crime.
Permanent Change of Station Reform – The department has revised a longstanding policy that provides benefits to employees when they are reassigned from one duty station to another. The new policy limits the number of days an employee may be reimbursed for temporary quarters expenses to 60 days from 120 days. This change will save the department approximately $10.3 million per year.
Debt Collection – The department administers a Nationwide Central Intake Facility where federal agencies can refer delinquent debt in accordance with the Debt Collection Improvement Act, for judgment or enforced collection. The department is the collector of last resort, and most claims referred to the NCIF have undergone multiple collection attempts. The department has negotiated an agreement with the Internal Revenue Service that will increase our efficiency in locating debtors and collecting the money that is owed to the Treasury and various federal agencies.
In addition to the SAVE Council actions, more than $50.4 million in other savings and efficiency measures have been implemented or are proposed:
Eliminate the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Mobile Enforcement Teams and reassign the 145 positions associated with the teams to fill vacancies with the DEA fee-funded Diversion Control Program to better support DEA’s mission. This results in a savings of up to $39 million.
Consolidate Antitrust Division field office space in Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas and Philadelphia into the Chicago, New York and San Francisco field offices as well as the division’s Washington, D.C.-based section. Ninety-four positions will be reassigned to the remaining field offices and to the Washington, D.C., section in order to provide additional staffing resources to larger investigations. A savings of nearly $8 million is expected.
Merge the Justice Management Division’s strategic planning and management functions to increase efficiency and effectiveness. This results in a savings of $1.3 million.
Reduce the department’s physical footprint by consolidating sub-regional office locations, better use existing workspace and enhance information sharing. The department has been actively reviewing the leasing plans to reduce the scope of both current and prospective projects, and several planned office moves have been cancelled. The department is also reducing office, parking and warehouse facility floor space. Office locations are still to be determined. Actions underway include the following:
· FBI – Twelve sub-regional offices will be reduced or consolidated resulting in a $674,000 savings.
· DEA – Up to seven sub-regional offices will be consolidated resulting in a $395,000 savings.
· U.S. Marshals Service – Sub-regional office space will be reduced or consolidated resulting in a $381,000 savings.
· Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – Five sub-regional offices will be consolidated resulting in a $292,000 savings.
· U.S. Attorneys – Field office space will be reduced and consolidated resulting in a $200,000 savings.
· U.S. Trustee Program – Four sub-regional offices will be reduced or consolidated resulting in an $180,000 savings.
“Consolidating and eliminating unnecessary office space complies with President Obama’s order to dispose of unneeded federal real estate, which saves American taxpayer dollars,” Attorney General Holder added.
The department said that some of these cost savings may be immediate while others may not be realized until future fiscal years.