DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Since the release of the Department of Justice’s Open Government Plan 3.0 on June 1, 2014, Department components have been working hard to implement the commitments made. Following is a snapshot of the status as of December 31, 2015, of some of these commitments. You can find further details on each of these in the Plan.
Our last status report was dated October 2015.
Bureau of Prisons (BOP)
Reform and Reentry:
On Thursday, July 16, 2015, President Barack Obama visited the Federal Correctional Institution, El Reno, Oklahoma. This visit marked the first time in history a United States President had visited a federal prison while in office. President Obama met with inmates and staff about criminal justice reform and reentry.
In support of reentry, the BOP published revised Statements of Work (SOWs) for Residential Reentry Centers and for Community Treatment Services. The new SOWs provide enhanced services for returning citizens to increase the likelihood of their successful reentry, and thereby improve public safety.
On September 18, 2015, the Federal Correctional Complex Petersburg, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, held a Recognition Ceremony for more than 40 inmates who successfully completed all the requirements for their Class A or B licenses through the Commercial Drivers License (CDL) program. Since its implementation, 99 offenders (74 Class A and 25 Class B), have received their CDL licenses: 45 of them have since been released, and more than half are currently working in the trucking industry.
On September 9-10, 2015, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, in conjunction with the National Institute of Corrections, sponsored "The National Reentry Symposium: Promising Practices and Future Directions," a forum on innovative reentry services and practices throughout the country. Approximately 140 participants from state departments of correction, local agencies, other stakeholders, and BOP staff came together at the National Corrections Academy in Aurora, Colorado, to further their commitment to reentry and to aid offenders in their return to their communities. Forty-one states were represented at the inaugural event.
Outreach to Communities:
The Civil Division has continued to participate in a number of different outreach efforts. For example, on December 3, 2015, Director Michael S. Blume for the Consumer Protection Branch delivered remarks at the Consumer Federation of America Financial Services Conference. The conference is held to keep consumer advocates and educators informed about new products and regulation that continue to transform the consumer financial services marketplace. In addition, on October 22, 2015, Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer delivered remarks at the 16th Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress and Best Practices Forum. The Pharmaceutical Compliance Forum is held to promote effective corporate compliance programs. The forum focuses on open and informal sharing of compliance information, best practices and current developments in the field.
Using Information Technology for Transparency and Improved FOIA Administration:
The use of technology has continued to increase efficiency in FOIA processing in multiple ways. From fiscal year 2014 to fiscal year 2015, FOIA requests increased by 31%, yet the Civil Division managed to complete 57% more FOIA requests in fiscal year 2015 than in the previous year. In addition, the Civil Division has continued to meet its backlog reduction goal. In an effort to improve transparency and FOIA administration even further, we will explore “click to call/ email” capabilities on our website and updates to our FOIA library with frequently requested records.
The Criminal Division had three Open Government projects: (1) circulation of a Proactive Disclosure memorandum to all Criminal Division Sections, informing the Chiefs of our responsibilities and soliciting documents for disclosure; (2) a comprehensive System of Records Notice (SORN) review; and (3) broader publication of the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSPS) newsletter by linking that publication to the FOIA/PA Unit website. The Proactive Disclosure memorandum has been circulated among the section chiefs, and the HRSPS newsletter is linked to our website. The comprehensive SORN review remains on hold due to competing priorities.
National Security Division (NSD)
Foreign Agents Registration Act:
The FARA Unit, in conjunction with NSD IT, continues to take steps to enhance the functionality of its database and networks. Personnel are developing an improved, standardized web form that will provide greater uniformity in the responses and information received from registrants, as well as allow for significant improvements in search capability by the public and interested groups. The team is making steady progress and is committed to developing an enhanced system.
United States Trustee Program
One additional data set was posted in the fourth quarter of 2015; it is our chapter 7 asset cases data from Jul-Dec 2014. We usually post a number of data sets in the first quarter of the calendar year related to our prior fiscal year statistics, so we should have more to report for the first quarter of 2016.