Department of Justice Open Government Progress Report July 2015

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

OPEN GOVERNMENT

PROGRESS REPORT

July 2015

 

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 June 30, 2015, of some of these commitments. You can find further details on each of these in the Plan

Our last status report was dated April 2015.

 

Access to Justice (ATJ)

Through the Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable, or LAIR, the Department’s Office for Access to Justice and National Institute for Justice, and the National Science Foundation co-hosted the Civil Legal Aid Research Workshop on May 20-21, 2015.  The workshop was kicked off by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and other federal leaders, including Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason, ATJ Director Lisa Foster, NSF Assistant Director Fay Lomax Cook, and LAIR co-chairs Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart Delery and White House Domestic Policy Counsel Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity Director Roy Austin, welcomed the attendees. 

The multi-disciplinary workshop was attended by domestic and international experts, including civil legal aid practitioners, researchers, government officials - including representatives of the Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable - and private funders.  Panels were convened on topics where the civil and criminal justice systems intersect: domestic violence, human trafficking, consumer fraud, elder abuse and helping people with criminal records successfully reenter society.  The participants also discussed the ongoing United Nations activity to establish the post-2015 sustainable development goals and likely inclusion of access to justice in that framework. ATJ will generate a report summarizing the presentations and discussions, including the participants’ recommendations on a research agenda and federal priorities to advance this work. 

LAIR created a new Working Group on Self-Represented Parties in Administrative Hearings, co-chaired by ATJ and the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS).  The Working Group began exploring best practices for hearing procedures involving the self-represented, drawing on a growing body of case law, studies, and experience in the access to justice field.  Working Group goals include ensuring more fair and accurate outcomes as well as increasing efficiency in administrative hearings.

Recent LAIR agency activities include:

  • HHS Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has long promoted comprehensive preventive health care services that address the social determinants of health.  In recognition of the link between health and legal needs for vulnerable and low-income populations, HRSA recently clarified that civil legal aid may be included in the range of "enabling services" that HRSA-funded health centers can provide to meet the primary care needs of the population and communities they serve. 

  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched Your Money, Your Goals Toolkit, a comprehensive and interactive guide designed for organizations that serve low-income consumers, covering topics like budgeting for daily expenses, managing debt, and avoiding common financial traps.   In April 2015, CFPB launched a new version of the toolkit for legal aid organizations, and included numerous legal aid organizations among the sites targeted for workshops to train staff and volunteers to help their clients.

 

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

The ATF, as a data leader within the U.S. Government, has made its information available in an open, interactive format. Published in accordance with the digital government strategy and the executive order on open data, the ATF open data portal allows users to dive into the data, search and browse.

ATF’s web site also now includes a Firearms Dashboard, which allows users to interact with publicly available information provided by ATF.

 

Bureau of Prisons

In April, we made our public website mobile friendly.  In addition, next week we are surveying our inmate population about our reentry efforts.  The survey is part of an effort to gain a better understanding of how we are perceived by various stakeholders, including our staff, members of the public and inmates.

 

Civil Rights Division

Immigration:  The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is the section within the Civil Rights Division that enforces the anti-discrimination provision (§ 274B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1324b. This federal law prohibits: 1) citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, 2) national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, 3) document abuse (unfair documentary practices during the employment eligibility verification, Form I-9, process, and 4) retaliation or intimidation.   Current information about OSC’s enforcement activities is also available.

 

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

We continue to manage our twitter feed, post dozens of new stories on DEA.gov each week, update/keep DEA.gov current with new information about leadership and division activities, and give public Congressional testimony and remarks.

As of May 15, 2015, we have a new Acting Administrator, Chuck Rosenberg, who is committed to greater openness in our communication with partners and the public, particularly on emerging trends and ongoing drug threats.

We have also recently published two important new publications: DEA Drug Fact Cards: five drug fact cards on Ecstasy, Heroin, Marijuana, Spice/K2, DXM. We currently have two more on Methamphetamine/Prescription Drug Abuse and What You Should Know About Marijuana Concentrates.

 

Justice Management Division

JMD’s Office of the Chief Information Officer created a new online ASKDOJ form, with drop-down menu of topics and major offices & components. Messages from the public are transmitted to JMD’s Mail Referral Unit for cataloging and referral to the appropriate Department offices.  After the first few weeks of operation, MRU reported that the topics are working well and speeding up the referral process.

 

Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties (OPCL)

The Chief Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer (CPCLO) and the Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties (OPCL) have taken a number of steps to implement the commitments made in the Department’s Open Government Plan 3.0, including:

Improve Privacy Compliance

  • Revisions to Privacy Compliance Process:  In an effort to enhance the Department’s privacy compliance process, OPCL recently revised its compliance documentation, including the Department’s Initial Privacy Assessment (IPA) and Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) templates, and introduced a new Administrative PIA template.  In addition, OPCL revised its Senior Component Official for Privacy (SCOP) Manual to account for the recent compliance revisions and to establish new compliance responsibilities for the Department’s SCOPs.

  • Component Meetings:The CPCLO and OPCL have continued to meet frequently with Department components to gather information about component privacy programs. In 2015, the CPCLO and OPCL met with the SCOPs and other component leadership.  Future meetings with other components have been scheduled, and the CPCLO and OPCL continue to hold informal meetings with components as issues arise.

  • Social Media Compliance:  OPCL has continued to work with the Department’s Web 2.0 Policy Working Group to ensure the Department’s use of social media and other communications technologies are compliant with applicable privacy laws and policies.  In June of 2015, OPCL and the Web 2.0 Policy Working Group successfully conducted a privacy compliance review prior to the launch of Attorney General Lynch’s Twitter account.

Increase Transparency of Privacy Policies

  • Outreach with Advocacy Groups and Other Agencies:  The CPCLO and OPCL have also worked with various advocacy groups and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) to address privacy concerns, as well as ways to improve agency outreach.  Moreover, the CPCLO and OPCL have met with other federal agencies to improve inter-agency coordination, and to discuss agency privacy practices and common concerns.  These meetings enable OPCL to review and assess the Department’s information and privacy-related policies, and make improvements where appropriate and necessary.

  • Speaking Engagements and Panel Participation:The CPCLO and OPCL have continued to participate in a number of panel discussions and speaking engagements to promote transparency of the Department’s policies, initiatives, and oversight with respect to the protection of privacy and civil liberties. 

  • Access to Privacy Policies and Compliance Reports:  The CPCLO and OPCL have been participating in meetings with the White House, the PCLOB, and other federal agencies to discuss ways to improve the privacy reports required by Section 803 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007.  Discussions on improving such reports are still ongoing.

  • Executive Order 13636 Annual Privacy Assessment:  OPCL recently published its annual privacy and civil liberties assessment of the Department’s cybersecurity activities, as required by Executive Order 13636, “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.”  The assessment describes the Department’s role in implementing the cybersecurity provisions of the EO and related initiatives during the reporting period of November 15, 2013 to September 30, 2014.

  • Website Frequently Asked Questions:  To increase transparency and better educate the public on the work of the CPCLO and OPCL, changes were made to OPCL’s website to include a “Frequently Asked Questions” section that details OPCL’s mission, structure, and statutory and administrative authorities.  

    Enhance Sharing of Best Practices on Data Privacy

  • Privacy Best Practices Resources:The CPCLO submitted to the White House a sampling of the Department’s privacy resources made available to state, local, and tribal law enforcement entities.  The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) have developed a suite of privacy resources to support law enforcement agencies in their efforts to implement privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties policies and protections for the information they access, collect, store, maintain, share, and disseminate.  These resources are publicly available at https://it.ojp.gov/PrivacyLiberty and http://ric-zai-inc.com/.

  • Outreach with State, Local, and Tribal Law Enforcement Entities:The CPCLO also submitted to the White House a description of the conferences and in-person meetings provided by the Department in 2014 in order to enhance collaboration and information sharing about privacy best practices among state and local law enforcement agencies receiving federal grants.  This privacy outreach is ongoing, and occurs regularly throughout the country.

 

Office of Public Affairs

Attorney General Loretta Lynch launched an individual Twitter account with @LorettaLynch on June 17, 2015.  This account will serve as a new way to directly engage with the American people and is part of the Attorney General’s commitment to make the Department more accessible. 

As another part of the initiative to use social media to increase transparency and improve communication with the public, in recent months the Department began live streaming press conferences .

 

 

 

 

 

Updated October 16, 2015