This semiannual report summarizes the work of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) from April 1, 2008, through September 30, 2008. This past 6 -month period was one of the most productive and challenging periods for the OIG, as we completed reviews on a variety of important issues affecting the Department of Justice (Department).
Of special significance, during this semiannual period we issued three reports of investigations relating to allegations of politicized hiring in the Department and the removal of nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006. These investigation s were jointly conducted with the Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.
The first report, issued in June 2008, examined hiring practices in the Department’s Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program. The report found t hat committees used by the Department to screen applications for the two programs inappropriately used political or ideological affiliations to “deselect” candidates for these programs. The second report, issued in July 2008, found that staff in the Office of the Attorney General improperly considered political or ideological affiliations in screening candidates for certain career positions at the Department, in violation of federal law and Department policy.
The third report, issued in September 2008, examined the removal of nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006. This report concluded that the process the Department used to select the U.S. Attorneys for removal was fundamentally flawed, and that the oversight and implementation of the removal process by the Department’s most senior leaders was significantly lacking. Our investigation also found evidence that partisan political considerations played a part in the removal of several of the U.S. Attorneys.
In these three reports, we made a series of recommendations designed to ensure that the problems we found do not occur again. The Department has agreed with these recommendations and either has implemented them or is taking steps to implement them.
In other areas, we continue to review significant programs and issues within the Department. For example, we issued a lengthy report examining the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) involvement in and observations of detainee interrogations in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq. We also completed an investigation examining the mishandling of classified documents by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. In addition, we issued audit reports examining the FBI’s name check procedures for immigration applications; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) controls over its weapons and laptop computers; and the management of Department grant programs for victims of human trafficking.
We currently have many other important reviews ongoing, including reviews of the Department’s involvement with the Terrorist Surveillance Program, a follow-up review of the FBI’s use of exigent letters, an audit of the coordination between the FBI and ATF in explosives investigations, an evaluation of the Department’s protection of the federal judiciary and federal prosecutors, an evaluation of the Department’s efforts to combat gang violence, and a follow-up audit of the FBI’s watchlist nomination process.
Finally, I want to commend the talented OIG employees who continue to produce high quality reports and work diligently to fulfill the OIG’s critical mission.
Glenn A. Fine
October 31, 2008