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Strategic Goal 1: Uphold the Rule of Law

Objective 1.1: Protect Our Democratic Institutions

Our nation depends on the stability of its democratic institutions.  The Justice Department is one such democratic institution and has important responsibilities in protecting other such institutions.  We will continue our work to ensure that the public views the Department as objective, impartial, and insulated from political influence.  More broadly, we will help ensure the safety and proper functioning of democratic institutions across government against a range of threats.  In recent years, threats against public servants, ranging from schoolteachers to federal judges, have increased.  Moreover, confidence in our system is undermined by public officials who sell their public trust to the highest bidder and by foreign adversaries who attempt to interfere with our elections.  The Department is committed to repairing these ruptures both through specific strategies and through the slow and steady demonstration of impartiality and integrity every day.

Strategy 1: Reaffirm and Strengthen Policies Foundational to the Rule of Law
The Justice Department upholds the rule of law by adhering to its foundational norms.  Those norms include the principled exercise of discretion; independence from improper influence; treating like cases alike; and an unwavering commitment to following the facts and the law.  Reaffirming and, where necessary, strengthening the Justice Department policies that are foundational to the rule of law – many of which were initially adopted in the aftermath of Watergate – is essential to this effort.  These include policies that strictly regulate communications between the Justice Department and the White House; that require the respectful treatment of the press; that read the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) generously; that respect the professionalism of Justice Department employees; that establish guidelines for Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) domestic operations and foreign intelligence collection; and that set out the principles of federal prosecution to guide the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

The Department also plays a vital role in upholding the rule of law by defending agencies and employees throughout the federal government in civil litigation. The Department’s civil defense litigators will continue to support client agencies by providing candid and professional assessments of litigation risk and defending against civil litigation to achieve just results.

Strategy 2: Protect the Justice Department from Improper Influence
The Department must be shielded from all forms of improper influence in its investigations and prosecutions.  The Department will continue to ensure that its career professionals, including prosecutors, attorneys, agents, and others, are protected from partisan motives or other improper influences.  While the Justice Department appropriately follows the Administration’s direction on policy matters, all Justice Department investigative and prosecutorial decisions will be made independently.  In protecting the Department from improper influence, we will be guided by Attorney General Edward Levi’s warning that “[n]othing can more weaken the quality of life or more imperil the realization of the goals we all hold dear than our failure to make clear by words and deed that our law is not the instrument of partisan purpose.”

Strategy 3: Protect Public Servants from Violence and Threats of Violence
We have seen an uptick in threats against public servants – from election officials to Members of Congress.  Expressing a political belief or ideology, no matter how vociferously, is not a crime, and the Department will not investigate or prosecute individuals because of their views.  But the Department will protect those who serve the public from violence and unlawful threats of violence.  To aid in this effort, we will continue to develop and deploy innovative protective approaches to anticipating and deterring threats against the judiciary.  In addition, we will create specialized training and guidance for those who are subjected to threats, including by helping potential victims understand the type of behavior that constitutes an unlawful threat and how to report threatening conduct to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.  Finally, we will work closely with state, local, Tribal, and territorial law enforcement to protect public servants from violence and threats of violence.

Strategy 4: Protect the Public Fisc from Fraud on Government Programs
The Department will deter and redress collusion, fraud, waste, and abuse targeting public programs by vigorously investigating and prosecuting culpable individuals and enterprises.  We will employ a whole-of-government approach, including, when appropriate, parallel investigations with federal and state law enforcement and regulatory agencies (including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission).  When losses to the public do occur, we will use all criminal and civil tools at our disposal to recover lost taxpayer funds.  Our efforts will include expanded use of data analytics to monitor federal spending for payment anomalies and other indications of fraud, waste, and abuse.  We will engage the public procurement and law enforcement communities to promote greater cooperation in identifying, deterring, and prosecuting schemes that seek to commit fraud on government programs.  And we will use every available tool – including criminal, civil, and administrative actions – to safeguard the integrity of taxpayer-funded programs and combat COVID-19 related fraud, including by holding accountable those who seek to exploit the pandemic for personal gain.

In addition to recouping stolen or fraudulently obtained government funds, the Department will use all available tools to ensure strong, consistent, and uniform enforcement of the internal revenue laws to help ensure that everyone pays what they owe.  Honest taxpayers must be able to trust that they will not bear an undue share of the federal tax burden.

Strategy 5: Combat Foreign Interference in Democratic Processes
Democracy depends on the free exchange of ideas, and the Justice Department will do everything in its power to respond to the efforts of foreign governments or other actors who seek to exploit that openness or suppress the voices of those seeking to participate.  To address the threat of improper foreign interference in American democratic processes, the Justice Department is taking a variety of actions, including prosecuting state agents for espionage; preventing hacking campaigns; preventing the repression of dissidents; and addressing efforts to manipulate public discourse in the United States. 

Strategy 6: Ensure Effective Oversight and Public Accountability
The principles of open government and democratic accountability are at the heart of who we are as public servants and as Americans.  Effective oversight and public accountability help ensure that the Department stays true to its goals and values.  The Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) will work closely with Congress to ensure the Department is responsive to Congress in a timely fashion, subject to the Department’s longstanding policies and practices that may limit what can be disclosed in response to particular requests.  More broadly, the Department will faithfully administer the Freedom of Information Act to allow for an informed citizenry that can hold accountable those who govern.

Key Performance Indicators:

  • Percent of Office of Professional Responsibilities (OPR) inquiries resolved within one year
  • Number of criminal government program fraud cases where the proactive use of data led to the opening of an investigation by the Criminal Division (CRM)
  • Number of U.S. Attorney’s Offices (USAO) that received proactive data leads in criminal government fraud cases from the Criminal Division
  • Percent of cases concerning COVID-19 related fraud in which the Department seeks restitution
  • Percent of COVID-19 related fraud cases favorably resolved
  • Ratio of backlogged to incoming FOIA requests

Contributing DOJ Components: All components