Wednesday, June 25, 2008

DOJ's Compliance Program Fails With Disgraceful Politicized Hiring

The Report titled an Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring in the Department of Justice Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program presents a review of appalling conduct occurring with respect to DOJ hiring practices. There is no excuse for hiring civil servants based upon politics.  Yet the Report provides ample evidence that this is what occurred in DOJ. The Report states " based on the results of our data analysis, we found that Honors program candidates whose applications reflected liberal affiliations were deselected at more than three times the rate (55 percent) of candidates whose applications reflected conservative affiliations (18 percent) and more than twice the rate of candidates whose applications reflected neutral affiliations (23 percent)."  The Report in its conclusion states that "[t]he evidence in our investigation -- including the documentary evidence, the testimony of witnesses, and the analysis of the applications of candidates who were selected for interviews and who were deselected by the 2006 Screening Committee -- supports the conclusion that political or ideological affiliations were used to deselect candidates from the Honors Program and from SLIP (Summer Law Intern Program)."

Kudos go to the Office of the Inspector General and OPR for issuing this Report.  But it is not enough. It is clear that DOJ did not have a proper compliance program in place, and still has insufficient measures to assure that conduct such as this will not happen again. It is also clear that an independent body needs to examine what has happened here and make recommendations as to how best to proceed.

The bottom line is that DOJ needs a better compliance program - yes, an "effective program" like they require of others.  And there needs to be oversight to make certain this never happens again. It is ironic that the department that requires others, namely corporations, to have appropriate compliance programs in place, failed to have one that would meet their own criteria.

AG Mukasey's assurance of - it's wrong and I'll change - is not enough.  He stated that he "accept[s], and have directed the implementation, of all of those recommendations" in the Report. (See AG Mukaseys' comment here) But would such a response be sufficient if this was a corporation that had failed to abide by the law?  Wouldn't they be asking for the appointment of a monitor?  And what would the fine be, even if they did give a deferred prosecution agreement?

And is the statement of "no more politics" sufficient. Should there not be a review of those who secured jobs via this appointment process to see if they were the most qualified?  Should there not be contact made with those who were deprived of the jobs because of this hiring practice to see if they would like to be a part of DOJ?  It is pretty frightening to think that the department that will monitor elections has been compromised and continues to be compromised by political hiring practices. More needs to be done here to rectify these past practices.


What Others Are Saying:

Carrie Johnson, Washington Post - here (noted previously)

Dan Slater, WSJ - here

Eric Lichtblau, NYTimes here -

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