Justice Department streamlines, reorganizes to focus on terrorism

Attorney General John Ashcroft on Thursday announced a major reorganization of the Justice Department and its bureaus aimed at making counterterrorism the department's top priority. Under Ashcroft's plans, 10 percent of the department's headquarters positions will be moved to field offices, duplicative functions will be consolidated and processes will be streamlined. Such efforts are expected to save 10 percent of Justice's budget, money that will be shifted to counter-terrorism efforts. "The fight against terrorism is now the first and overriding priority of the Department of Justice," Ashcroft said in a memorandum to bureau chiefs. "We must look closely at the many functions and responsibilities of the Department of Justice and realign our resources to support the critical tasks ahead-all while continuing to enforce vigorously the laws of the United States." Ashcroft laid out 10 goals for revamping Justice management.
  • Revise the department's performance plan to include clear performance measures that support the department's long-term goals, and link individual performance reviews to the performance of organization units.
  • Streamline, eliminate and consolidate functions, reallocating budget savings of 10 percent to counterterrorism efforts.
  • Reallocate caseload and field positions to match the new emphasis on terrorism and transfer 10 percent of headquarters positions to the field.
  • Make counterterrorism the FBI's top mission and implement a series of FBI management reforms previously recommended by the department's Strategic Management Council.
  • Restructure the Immigration and Naturalization Service by separating its enforcement and service functions; strengthen INS operations on the border and in the interior of the country; and streamline the operations of the Executive Office for Immigration Review to eliminate its backlog of cases.
  • Flatten the Office of Justice Programs' organizational structure and create a uniform application for department grants.
  • Improve cooperation with state and local law enforcement agencies and with U.S. attorney's offices.
  • Implement a uniform financial system and achieve unqualified opinions on all financial statements.
  • Develop a departmentwide hiring policy, boost training and improve diversity.
  • Develop a comprehensive information technology plan.
In a second memo, Ashcroft ordered Justice's bureaus, which include not just the FBI and the INS, but the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Prisons, to better share information with one another and with other federal, state and local agencies. The second memo also orders top officials at each Justice agency to assess their organizations' intelligence analysis capacity and to "instill a culture of cooperation throughout your component and an ethic of communication in all persons under your supervision."
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