Justice Wins Flexibility to Avert Furloughs

Attorney General Eric Holder Attorney General Eric Holder Evan Vucci/AP

Update: Attorney General Eric Holder has announced there will be no Justice Department sequestration furloughs in 2013. See our story here

Congressional appropriators have agreed to allow the Justice Department to shift money within its budget to avoid employee furloughs this fiscal year.

The department last week asked lawmakers for the authority to transfer or “reprogram” funds from various budget accounts to cover shortfalls in salaries for thousands of employees because of sequestration. Rep. Frank Wolf, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies approved the proposed reprogramming authority in an April 24 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

“The committee understands that these actions, taken together, will enable the department to avoid any furloughs for the remainder of fiscal year 2013, within all its components,” the Virginia Republican wrote.

The Senate Appropriations Committee also has approved the department’s request, a Senate aide confirmed. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who leads the full Appropriations panel, also chairs the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee.

Lawmakers in March agreed to allow Justice to shift money within the Bureau of Prisons to avoid furloughing thousands of correctional workers. Also last month, Holder announced that he would postpone until mid-April a decision on furloughs at his department.

Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The green light from appropriators on shifting funds, however, should enable the department to avoid furloughs. The department in February sent letters to assistant U.S. attorneys notifying them of proposed 14-day furloughs during the rest of the fiscal year.

Justice will be able to use $251.5 million in deobligated and expired prior year funds for salaries and expenses at the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives under the request. The department also will shift money from its Election Monitoring Program account to pay employees in the Civil Rights Division, and reprogram funds from its Legal Education coffers to cover salaries within the U.S. Attorneys unit. In addition, the department will be able to move appropriations within its federal prisoner detention account to salaries and expenses at the U.S. Marshals Service; the Executive Office for Immigration Review; U.S. Parole Commission; U.S. Trustees Program, and the Office of Inspector General.

Wolf pointed out in his letter to Holder that the reprogramming “will use resources intended for a variety of law enforcement activities and priorities, but now must be used to prevent furloughing critical operational personnel.” The Republican also included a handwritten note at the bottom of the letter, criticizing the Obama administration’s decision to buy Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois last year for $165 million from the state.

“You really created a mess with your bailing out the state of Ill [sic] with the Thomson prison purchase,” Wolf scribbled. “This will continue to create problems for the Justice Dept., especially the employees.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.