Congressional affairs, including requests for information, are handled by the Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA). OLA also articulates the Department's position on legislation proposed by Congress, facilitates the appearance of Department witnesses at congressional hearings, and manages the interagency clearance process led by OMB. Additionally, OLA coordinates the Department's responses to congressional committee oversight requests and other inquiries from individual Members and congressional staff. OLA also participates in the Senate confirmation process for federal judges and Department nominees, such as Assistant Attorneys General and United States Attorneys. These functions are important to the Department's cooperative and productive relationship with Congress.
OLA is a small office, headed by a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General. OLA coordinates the clearance within the Executive Branch, the Department Statements for the Record of Hearings, and letters setting forth the Department's positions on legislation, which are available on the OLA Web site.
Letters from Members of Congress are directed to the Department's Executive Secretariat for assignment to components with substantive knowledge of the underlying matters. Those components prepare responses, which are reviewed by other components, cleared by the Office of Management and Budget as needed, and ultimately transmitted to the Congress by OLA.
The Office of Legislative Affairs uses the Department's Records Management System (RMS), as one of its two major information management systems, to manage the flow of legislative correspondence, hearing requests and related materials, and other requests concerning legislative matters, including internal DOJ communications, addressed to and emanating from the Office of Legislative Affairs.
The RMS system allows the Office of Legislative Affairs to control and track all legislative requests originating within or outside the Department and to control other related items in RMS, when appropriate for internal coordination needs.
Among the items tracked by this system are:
- pending congressional bills;
- draft legislative proposals developed within the Department;
- requests for comments or views on legislative proposals from congressional Committees and Members, the Office of Management and Budget, or other Federal agencies;
- hearing testimony and hearing follow-up questions;
- Presidential proclamations; and similar items.
When a legislative or hearing request is received and logged into RMS, a database record is created. Each record contains information such as the sender's name and organizational affiliation; the bill or proposal number; the bill, hearing or proposal title; a descriptive summary; various tracking dates; action required; assignments to components; and in some instances, notes concerning the action or response.