The achievement of the Department's performance goals in 1998 and beyond requires dedication to improving management processes and having a solid infrastructure. Efforts continued Department-wide in 1998 to upgrade technology, improve service to customers, and discover new and better ways of doing business. Components continued to pursue program oversight and integrity initiatives, while the installation of new accounting systems promises continued improvements in financial management and debt collection. Important steps were taken in 1998 to improve the Department's planning and monitoring of information technology (IT) investments. Justice components also worked to improve efficiencies in their mission-critical processes and to make more resources available on the Internet and through other automated, electronic means.
The Department's first priority in pursuing its performance goals is to ensure the integrity of Department programs and operations. To that end, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigates allegations and conducts an aggressive program of audits and inspections. In 1998, priority attention went to justice operations with the highest potential for serious misconduct, including immigration activities, Violent Offender Incarceration/Truth in Sentencing grant uses, and debt collection. The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) helped to ensure that Department employees maintained the highest ethical standards in performing their law enforcement responsibilities.
The OIG works with Department managers to ensure the integrity, effectiveness, and efficiency of Department programs and personnel. In 1998, the OIG identified systemic problems in controlling the borders of the United States and also concluded that the INS and the State Department must clarify which agency is responsible for determining whether an applicant for asylum in the United States is a terrorist. In addition, the OIG recommended that INS and the Department of State delineate their respective roles in the visa process.
The Department conducted 17 VOI/TIS grant reviews to ensure funds were used in accordance with the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Site reviews were conducted to verify that state grant recipients used Federal funds to build or expand correctional facilities and jails to increase secure confinement space for violent offenders. OJP is acting on OIG recommendations for improved program operation.
Protecting the integrity of the naturalization process is a Department priority and is of significance to all Americans. A 30-month investigation by the Department's OIG Investigations Division resulted in the indictment of 20 individuals on charges of conspiracy to defraud the Federal Government and unlawful procurement of citizenship. This investigation uncovered a series of nationwide schemes by private testing services that held subcontracts to administer the INS citizenship testing program. In exchange for fees ranging from $150 to $300, these testing services issued fraudulent passing grades to alien applicants seeking U.S. citizenship. As many as 13,000 aliens collectively paid over $3 million to the conspirators. INS has since discontinued its practice of subcontracting the citizenship testing program.
A comprehensive Departmentwide debt management review was completed to assess implementation of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA) and explore opportunities to enhance debt collection programs. The report on the review provides (1) an inventory of the Department's debt, (2) detailed information on debt management and accounting practices, and (3) a Departmentwide plan to fully implement the DCIA and correct related deficiencies identified during the review.
Through its Evaluation Program, the Department is able to meet its responsibility for conducting reviews of U.S. Attorneys' offices and on-site reviews of internal management controls. On-site evaluations were conducted in 30 U.S. Attorneys' offices during 1998.
During 1998, the Department continued to pursue an active integrity program for its employees, particularly Department attorneys. OPR, which is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct against Department attorneys, conducted expedited investigations of judicial findings of attorney misconduct, cooperated with state bar licensing authorities on attorney misconduct matters, and issued public summaries of the results of OPR investigation in appropriate cases.
In 1998, the Department continued its progress toward improving the way that government works in people's lives. One big way is to increase the public's access to government documents, as in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. In 1998, the Department cut its backlog of FOIA requests in half, with most components completely eliminating their backlogs. The Department implemented several other customer service initiatives, modeling successes for more widespread uses.
Building on past Department successes, the Office of the Associate Attorney General has continued to implement the Attorney General's vision of openness in government by working with all Department components to reduce their FOIA request backlogs, which have declined significantly. Departmentwide, the backlog FOIA requests declined from 34,028 in FY 1997 to 17,717 by the end of FY 1998.
The Executive Office of Immigration Review is one of many Department components to have completely eliminated its FOIA backlog, maintaining a zero backlog while receiving and processing a record 3,400 FOIA/Privacy Act requests in 1998. EOIR received the Friends of the FOIA Award from the Associate Attorney General in recognition of outstanding efforts to provide timely and substantive access to the requester community. In 1998, BOP also made significant progress in providing the public with faster, easier access to numerous policies and in reducing costs associated with responding to individual FOIA requests.
EOIR received the Volunteer and Community Service Award, in part for its active support of pro bono legal activities. Attorneys participated in pro bono clinics, performed pretrial work, and appeared in court representing clients in a variety of civil cases. Further, EOIR contracted with three nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), which pilot-tested "Know Your Rights" presentations for detained aliens--those respondents least likely to seek representation in proceedings before Immigration Judges. The NGOs prepared and presented videos and pamphlets to the test groups. EOIR is working with the NGOs in reviewing the pilot results and in planing future activities.
INS implemented two aspects of its Customer Management Information System (CMIS), with beneficial results. The first is a triage counter that enhances INS' ability to handle brief service requests quickly and identifies customers who require more specialized and time-consuming services. The second is a customer sequencing system that assures customers of an orderly wait and enables them to track their progress. In addition to a customer service sequencing tool, CMIS could be used as a management information system to manage and improve waiting room operations.
The Department continued in 1998 to upgrade technology, improve customer service, and discover new and better approaches to conducting the business of government. Reinvention laboratories developed by the Justice Performance Review (JPR) gave employees the opportunity to field test new management practices. The Department bestowed JustWorks Awards on the most promising and creative approaches devised by employee teams.
JPR developed and provides oversight to a reinvention laboratory program designed to field test more effective and cost-efficient methods of providing services and products. In 1998, the Department continued to implement labs aimed at improving government service in several key areas. Among the labs making substantial progress in 1998 were the following:
Without compromising security, the SENTRI lab facilitates international travel and promotes business on both sides of the southern border. With prescreened, low-risk, frequent crossers automatically inspected by state-of-the-art technology, government inspectors are able to concentrate their efforts on border crossers who pose a greater risk. The members of the INS-led SENTRI reinvention laboratory include representatives from INS, DEA, FBI, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Customs. For its outstanding accomplishments, SENTRI earned a place in the Smithsonian Institution's permanent collection on technology and won finalist honors in 1998 in the Innovations in American Government Competition sponsored by the Ford Foundation and Harvard University.
The EDE lab was established in 1997 to review existing and proposed technology and policy issues involving the electronic exchange of documents in government litigation. The successful pilot electronic filing project in the New Mexico U.S. District Court prompted the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to organize nine electronic filing prototypes. In January 1998, the lab furthered Department leadership on EDE issues by hosting a Symposium on Electronic Exchange of Legal Documents for 160 representatives from 20 agencies and the courts.
In 1998, the USMS became the first Federal law enforcement agency to seek accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). The goal of this JPR laboratory is to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the USMS by improving operational and administrative policies and procedures in accordance with 350 national standards. The USMS is on schedule to achieve accreditation in FY 2000.
The Department continues to make progress toward upgrading, consolidating, and integrating its financial management systems. New financial management systems installed by several Department components improved their accounting functions and financial information reporting capabilities. Some examples follow:
Due to the Department's decentralized structure and the many automated financial systems in use by its various components, the OIG performed separate financial statement audits for nine components. These nine audits were combined for the Department's consolidated audit (see Chapter VIII for the Department's 1998 annual financial statement). The OIG promotes fiscal effectiveness in the Department through its work under the Chief Financial Officers Act and the Government Management Reform Act (GMRA) in overseeing the preparation of audited financial statements of various Department accounts.
In support of the Administration's goal to achieve an unqualified opinion on the FY 1999 financial statements, the Department, in 1998, developed a corrective action plan designed to enable it to meet this goal. The Attorney General and the acting Chief Financial Officer met with senior management of the Bureaus to encourage their participation, and to request each Bureau head to make the necessary resource adjustments needed to achieve an unqualified opinion for FY 1999 consolidated financial statements. The Department submitted an action plan to OMB to resolve material financial and management deficiencies identified in the department's FY 1997 audited financial statements.
The Department of Justice plays a major role in the collection of debts owed the United States. In addition to litigating and collection civil debts owed to other Federal agencies, the Department enforces collection of fines and restitution imposed by the U.S. courts in criminal cases.
Civil debt collections are the result of litigation by the U.S. Attorneys on behalf of Federal agencies for the collection of defaulted loans, overpayments, and administratively assessed penalties. During 1998, the U.S. Attorneys handled more than 24,000 civil debt collection referrals and reported $1.2 billion in cash and other recoveries. A rapidly increasing part of the U.S. Attorneys' debt collection activities involves enforcement of unpaid criminal monetary penalties, including restitution owed to Federal agencies and third-party victims of crime. In 1998, the U.S. Attorneys collected $317 million in criminal fines. Additionally, more than $126 million was collected as restitution for both Federal agencies and third-party crime victims. The Department continued to assist with local efforts in teaching prosecutors, probation officers, and court personnel about new restitution laws and procedures.
In 1998, the Department collected nearly $1.2 billion dollars in cash receipts in the recovery of both criminal and civil debts--the 5th consecutive year that the Department has exceeded a billion dollars in cash collections. These figures represent only part of the debt collection program. Through the efforts of Department litigators and support staff, additional payments are sent directly by defendants to the U.S. courts, and other recoveries are obtained through the seizure of property or offsets of benefits.
The Private Counsel Program, administered by JMD with local oversight by the U.S. Attorneys, has proven to be an effective means of supplementing the Department's civil litigation and collection resources. Twelve judicial district now participate in the program. In addition to recompeting contracts for private counsel in districts in which the program currently operates, JMD began efforts in 1998 to expand the program. Criteria were established to identify judicial districts for expansion in 1999.
The Department is committed to the implementation of a new, improved computer system to fully automate debt collection litigation and enforcement activities Departmentwide. JMD awarded a contract in May 1998 for the purpose of operating the Nationwide Central Intake Facility and providing access to a system capable of supporting the Department's debt collection programs. The selected system is widely used by debt collection firms in the private sector.
Installed in more than 700 headquarters and field office locations in 10 agencies nationwide, the Department's Consolidated Assets Tracking System (CATS) 1500 has enabled users to share access to information and operational support in all of the asset forfeiture program's business functions. CATS has replaced several legacy asset forfeiture systems through a design that addressed the agencies' requirements and the conversion of all data on active assets beginning in 1994 and completed in 1998. CATS provides a consistent view of each asset, increases visibility of information, facilitates proactive management, and enhances communication across agencies.
During 1998, the Department met the second of three major statutory requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) by submitting its FY 1999 Annual Summary Performance Plan in conjunction with its FY 1999 budget request. To provide additional detail, components also submitted annual performance plans with their budget requests. To ensure linkage between component plans and the Department's plan, this year's guidance in the spring call for budget submissions directed components to use the Department's Strategic Plan (FY 1997-2002) as an outline of the Attorney General's priorities to ensure that annual performance plans and budgets are driven by and consistent with the long-term strategic goals contained in the Strategic Plan.
Another 1998 effort linking component budgets to the Department's strategic goals was the Department Managerial Cost Accounting Standards Working Group, which developed mapping standards to consistently classify appropriations according to the Strategic Plan core function structure.
A Worklife 2000 contract was established to provide expert support to Department managers in assessing operational needs, determining the suitability of flexible work arrangements for diverse occupations and regional sites, developing criteria for entry into and continued use of flexible work programs, and conducting demonstration projects to evaluate impact of flexible work arrangements. A brochure on the Department's Worklife Program was developed and distributed to Department employees nationwide. Employees can call the Department's "Worklife Information Line" to obtain worklife documents on demand via fax and U.S. mail.
During the past fiscal year, several Department components expanded their Internet presence and established web sites (see Appendix III, "Index of Justice Component Web Sites"). Often, the sites provide links to electronic FOIA request forms and allow users access to the Department's best practices and innovations in customer service, law enforcement, and technology. An entire resource library of justice-related materials, full text publications, and various program and job applications are available through the Department's web sites. One can even ask questions of Department personnel.
The Department has made significant progress in improving information sharing across local, state, and Federal governments and across the entire criminal justice community. The Department's IT architecture will provide an integrated policy and technical framework for IT and enable the Department to deploy information systems around the world at lower cost and in shorter time frames. A joint effort with the ongoing participation of more than 15 component organizations, the 1998 architecture initiative resulted in the publication of a technical reference model that will guide the acquisition and use of major technology investments by all component organizations. This progress is a significant factor in strengthening information security and developing interoperable systems.
All components are investing in new and upgraded infrastructure to take advantage of the vastly improved technologies for carrying out the Department's mission. The Justice Consolidated Network (JCN) will correct a situation in which Department components had independently acquired and used telecommunications networks to meet their respective mission requirements. The Justice Consolidated Office Network (JCON) will provide a new infrastructure for office automation and related computing requirements in JMD, the litigating Divisions, and the senior management offices. The DEA's firebird infrastructure project will provide the platform for automating the investigative report process, sharing case information, and performing analysis and administrative activities. The INS is completing a major technology infrastructure project to provide its employees with automated tools to improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness.
In 1998, the FBI completed planning activities associated with the Information Sharing Initiative (ISI) and secured the funding required to begin the first phase. ISI is a 5-year program to upgrade the FBI's technical infrastructure and applications to support full electronic case files, tools to support analysis of large volumes of data collected during investigations, and mechanisms to support secure electronic exchange of information. This initiative will provide the support needed to realize the goals identified in the FBI's strategic operational plans.
An effective IT security program is the first line of defense against internal vulnerabilities and external threats to information. Security awareness and prevention activities have been a major focus over the past year. The Department completed the first phase of an ongoing program of network penetration testing to assess external and internal threats so that vulnerabilities may be closed quickly. Also in 1998, the Department initiated a Digital Signature Working Group with component representatives to identify and test new digital signature and encryption technologies. This technology is critical to expanding electronic transmission of sensitive and classified law enforcement and litigation materials.
It is of major importance that all the Department's mission-critical systems operate correctly on January 1, 2000, so as not to interrupt program operations. The governmentwide goal for Year 2000 (Y2K) compliance is March 1999. In 1998, each component designated a senior program executive with overall responsibility for Y2K compliance. In addition, the Department established an independent verification and validation program to ensure compliance of mission-critical systems. At the time this report was printed, 86 percent of the Department's mission-critical information systems were compliant and implemented.
All of the INS' mission-control software applications have been corrected for Y2K and were in production effective January 4, 1999.
Using multiple outreach techniques, the Department actively promotes the hiring and advancement of minorities, women, and people with disabilities. During 1998, various Department components participated in and sponsored job fairs, special events, and recruitment booths at annual minority conferences, both locally and nationally. In an effort to develop long-term relationships with minority organizations and the communities they represent, Department officials networked with a variety of organizations for minorities, women, and people with disabilities. The Attorney General continued to publicly express her personal commitment to the Department's diversity goals by sending a clear message to managers for their support. Departmentwide recruitment efforts, such as the Attorney General's Honor Program and the Summer Law Intern Program, targeted colleges and student associations having high enrollments of African Americans, Asian Pacifics, Hispanics, Native American Indians, and students with disabilities.
In 1998, as the following examples show, Department components affirmed their commitment to the Department's diversity goals: