Justice News

Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden at the Palmetto Project Press Event National Advocacy Center
Columbia, SC
United States
~
Monday, July 20, 2009

Remarks as prepared for delivery.

Good Morning.

Thank you President Pastides. It is a pleasure to join all of you today to announce this exciting next step in our partnership with the University of South Carolina. The Palmetto Project – as it is known – will allow the Department of Justice to expand the capabilities of the National Advocacy Center. As the core training center for prosecutors, civil litigators, law enforcement agents and other personnel from across the nation, the NAC is crucial to the continued success of the Justice Department’s mission.

This project has been years in the making.  It has taken the hard work of many dedicated people. It marks a mutual success for the Department and the University – and one we look forward to building upon. As part of this project, the Department will lease more than 325,000 square feet - utilizing all of the Close-Hipp Building adjacent to the NAC - to house staff from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. The result will greatly enhance our existing presence at the NAC.  The infusion of jobs and resources should help the University in its efforts to expand its business school.

It wasn’t that long ago that this successful collaboration was launched. In 1996, Attorney General Janet Reno, Senator Ernest Hollings, then-USC President John Palms, and others stood on this spot to break ground for the NAC. The idea was to create a state-of-the-art training and conference center for our nation's prosecutors and civil litigators. Less than two years later, the Center opened its doors and held its first course. As the result of the cooperative efforts of the Justice Department and the University, the NAC was opened on time and under budget.

Since its opening, more than 170,000 federal and state attorneys and law enforcement personnel have attended courses at the NAC – including civil litigators and prosecutors, law enforcement agents and legal support staff. In 2008 alone, for example, the NAC trained more than 23,000 people through a combination of classroom training and Continuing Legal Education. The opening of the NAC was the first of many successes that emerged as the result of the collaboration between the Justice Department and the University. The NAC is a tangible sign of the Department’s commitment to ensure that our prosecutors, litigators, agents and support staff have received the highest level of training on critical investigative, prosecutorial litigation and management matters, which they use daily in their pursuit of justice.

Since the opening of the NAC, the Justice Department has significantly expanded its presence here in Columbia. The Department has built television and broadcast studios here to provide distance education training viewed each month by lawyers, investigators, and legal support staff nationwide. Additionally, the Department has expanded its online video training, which was accessed by more than 72,000 Department employees in 2008.

Meanwhile, we have opened an Information Technology Education Center to handle expanded computer training and education for the Department. We have moved all of the United States Attorneys' Network Operations to Columbia and opened a Litigation Technology Service Center here within the last year. And, we have created the Justice Leadership Institute that will train the Department’s leaders and managers to ensure they are prepared to perform their responsibilities.

If you stand on the front porch of the NAC, all you have to do is look around to see how successful the collaboration between the Department, the University, and the local community has been. The Kirkland Apartments and the Inn at USC would not exist if not for the efforts of our mutual efforts. These projects provide much needed housing for NAC students and employees of the Department of Justice.

Today's announcement is just the beginning of a new cooperative success between the University and the Department. I would like to thank Senator Graham for his strong support for the project and the tireless work he and his staff have devoted over the last few years to make today a reality. Senator Graham was instrumental in getting bipartisan support in Congress for this important initiative.  And I want to thank Dr. Pastides and USC for being great partners throughout this process and their vision in this effort.

Last, let me thank Marshall Jarrett, and the numerous people in the Executive Office for United States Attorneys - as well as the Director here at the NAC, Mike Bailie. These folks and others throughout the Department have worked so hard to make the Palmetto Project possible. What we will build here will serve the cause of justice for generations to come.  Thank you.