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$130 Million Dollars in Cost Savings and Efficiency Measures
October 7, 2011 Posted by

 The following post appears courtesy of Attorney General Eric Holder

Since this Administration’s earliest days, President Obama has signaled his commitment to conserving resources – and saving precious taxpayer dollars – by cutting costs, streamlining government operations, and working to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse wherever we find it.  Across the Justice Department, achieving these goals has been a top priority.  And we’ve made critical – and, at times, extremely difficult – decisions to improve efficiency and reduce spending.

For example, at the beginning of this year, I ordered a Justice Department-wide hiring freeze, and instructed my colleagues at every level to limit travel, training, and other costs to only those needs that are absolutely essential.  This order remains in effect – and, to date, the reductions in conference spending alone have already provided savings of $14 million over the same period last year.

In June, President Obama and Vice President Biden launched an Administration-wide Campaign to Cut Waste, and directed every office and agency in the Federal Government to take their cost-cutting efforts to the next level.  Once again, the Justice Department rose to the challenge.

I am proud to report that the Department has taken significant, aggressive action to make good on our promise to act as sound stewards of taxpayer funds.  [Earlier this week/Last week], we announced a series of measures that will increase our efficiency, maintain our critical law enforcement and public safety activities, and save more than $130 million.

We’re determined to meet current budgetary challenges by more effectively using the Department’s resources, realigning functions in various offices, and lowering lease costs by consolidating or reducing office space wherever possible.  Based on the guidance of Deputy Attorney General James Cole, the recommendations of Justice Department leaders at every level, and the robust efforts of the Advisory Council for Savings and Efficiencies – which I created in July 2010, and which has already provided more than $50 million in savings – my colleagues and I will continue to seek new ways to reduce spending and increase the efficiency of our day-to-day-operations, without compromising our effectiveness.

In this time of uncommon challenges and unprecedented threats, the need to conserve scarce resources – and to accomplish more with less – has never been more apparent, or more urgent.  Across the Department of Justice, we are fully committed to these efforts.  And, throughout the Administration, I am confident in our ability to build on this record of success.

Learn more about the cost-saving measures recently announced by the Justice Department.

Improving Public Safety & Creating Jobs
October 5, 2011 Posted by

 

Attorney General Holder announces COPS grants in Ohio.

Attorney General Holder announces COPS grants in Ohio.

 

The following post appears courtesy of Attorney General Eric Holder.

Today, along with COPS Director Barney Melekian, I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, to discuss the Justice Department’s most recent efforts to support our nation’s law enforcement community – and to ensure that police officers from coast to coast have the resources that they need and deserve.

In recent years, police departments like Cincinnati’s – and law enforcement agencies nationwide – have faced extraordinary budget difficulties and have been asked to do more with less.  All across the country, law enforcement officials have risen to the challenge – and found innovative, collaborative ways to improve public safety and to keep crime trends heading in the right direction.  But at a time when approximately 10,000 officer jobs have been cut, and three times as many positions are currently unfilled due to fiscal constraints, we have a looming national crisis on our hands, both in terms of public safety and public employment.  In short, our citizens need protection – and our police officers and other first responders need jobs.

As part of the Department’s ongoing effort to meet these needs, I’m proud to report that the COPS Office is providing more than $240 million in new grants to support the hiring and retention of more than 1,000 officers in nearly 240 agencies and municipalities across the country.  The Cincinnati Police Department alone was awarded more than $6.8 million in grant money from the COPS Hiring Program, which will fund 25 critical positions for three years. 

Such targeted investments are essential to advancing the Department’s mission to be smart, as well as tough, on crime.  These same priorities are reflected in President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act, which – in addition to creating new employment opportunities and bolstering economic growth – aims to put more officers on the beat and strengthen public safety efforts nationwide. 

Although we all can be proud of – and inspired by – the courage and commitment that our nation’s law enforcement officers exhibit every day, we must find ways to take this work to the next level.  The COPS Hiring Program – and this Administration’s determination to create and restore law enforcement jobs across the country – will allow us to do just that.

To learn more about the COPS Hiring Program and the Department’s ongoing work to support our law enforcement partners at every level, read the press release or visit http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October 4, 2011 Posted by

The following post appears courtesy of Susan B. Carbon, Director of the Office on Violence Against Women.

The Justice Department and The Office on Violence Against Women join all our partners in recognizing October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Since the Sept. 13, 1994 passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), there have been significant changes in society’s understanding of and response to violence against women – but there is much more that needs to be done to end domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.

Hundreds of thousands of victims have benefitted, and their lives forever changed, because of the resolve and commitment to end violence. This has been demonstrated not only by Congress, but by all those who have diligently worked so hard over the past 17 years to implement this legislation in their crisis centers, police departments, emergency rooms, prosecutors’ offices, courtrooms and communities. 

But we cannot rest upon our laurels and let slide the progress we have made, or think that we don’t need to maintain our vigilance.  We have an enormous responsibility, to our friends, family, colleagues, communities, strangers, people from all walks of life in every corner of this country, to continue and broaden our efforts to end violence against women, children and men.  Sadly too many continue to be victimized; and as new professionals and volunteers enter the field, we need to ensure that they have access to the best practices and  training as we are faced with new challenges and tools of abuse.

In his proclamation marking October 2011 as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, President Obama noted the effects of domestic violence, especially on young people and children:

… The ramifications of domestic violence are staggering. Young women are among the most vulnerable, suffering the highest rates of intimate partner violence. Exposure to domestic violence puts our young men and women in danger of long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Children who experience domestic violence are at a higher risk for failure in school, emotional disorders, and substance abuse, and are more likely to perpetuate the cycle of violence themselves later in life.

Prevention and intervention efforts focused on breaking the cycle of abuse and violence is an important part of OVW’s ongoing work.  Over the past couple of years, OVW has embarked upon the development of a new program to broaden the reach of those working to end violence against women by engaging men and boys to work together as allies with women and girls. 

 This is the first time in the history of OVW that a grant program focuses primarily on the prevention of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking by acknowledging the critical role men and boys play in addressing these issues.  That, along with the program’s focus on the creation of public education campaigns through the work of community-based organizations and local community partners, has generated great interest and excitement. With men as partners in this work, we have the potential to reach men and boys in new and creative ways, implementing programs most relevant to them and their communities. 

We continue to work along many paths to convey the message, loud and clear, that violence against women will not be tolerated.  We ask you to do the same in your own communities, at work and at home.  Your efforts and voices are vital.  Please join in this important dialogue.

We remind all those in need of assistance, or other concerned friends and individuals, to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

Attorney General Holder Meets with Muslim Leaders in Portland
September 30, 2011 Posted by
Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton meet with Arab-American and Muslim leaders in Portland, Oregon

Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton meet with Arab-American and Muslim leaders in Portland, Oregon

This week, Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Dwight Holton met with Arab-American and Muslim leaders in Portland to discuss the department’s commitment to protecting the rights of the Muslim, Sikh, Arab-American, and South Asian communities.  

Attendees included: Salma Ahmad, Gulzar Ahmed, Shariar Ahmed, Shamima Banu, Mohammed Ridha, Mostafa Arifin, Ronault Catalani, Mohamed Farah, Samira Godil, Jamal Haagi, Mohammed Haque, Tahmina Hossain, Muhammad Najieb, Nadira Najieb, Musse Olol, Athar Pasha, Ayoob Ramjan, Zaki Said, Mozafar Wanly, Yosof Wanly, Anam Pasha and Mohamed Alyajouri.

The Justice Department, under Attorney General Holder, has emphasized outreach to American Muslim and Arab communities, building upon efforts by the Civil Rights Division, which has met with national leaders of Arab American and Muslim American organizations, as well as with other community groups across the country. These meetings are one way to ensure we continue to protect against threats to our national security while building trusting, collaborative, and productive relationships that facilitate mutual understanding between certain communities, and the law enforcement officials serving them.

Attorney General Holder has said:

“In this nation, our many faiths, origins and appearances must bind together, not break us apart.  In this nation, the document that sets forth the supreme law of the land – our Constitution – is meant to empower, not exclude.  And in this nation, security and liberty are – at their best – partners, not enemies, in ensuring safety and opportunity for all.”

The Department’s engagement efforts have two central components. First we seek to build trust by working with Muslim leaders to find out how we can better serve the community on issues like civil rights enforcement to anti-bullying efforts. In addition, we work to equip and empower local Muslim leaders to help them guard against violent extremists who are targeting young people in their communities for recruitment to misguided, violent causes.

The Muslim leaders who met with the Attorney General pledged their support and are undertaking practical steps resist violent extremists targeting their young people and help federal law enforcement do its job better. 

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks with Zaki Said during a meeting with Muslim leaders in Portland, Oregon.

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks with Zaki Said during a meeting with Muslim leaders in Portland, Oregon.

Engagement is just one way that the Justice Department is building stronger relationships with Arab and Muslim-American communities.  The Attorney General has met with Arab and Muslim-American community leaders in Washington, D.C. and across the country to discuss the federal government’s relationship the community and to improve the Department’s communication and collaboration with members of the community. Attorney General Holder also established an Arab and Muslim-American Engagement Advisory Group.  That group helps to coordinate and review community outreach efforts and policy initiatives that affect the community.

The department’s individual components have been active in the effort to address the concerns of Arab/Muslim communities through engagement and outreach. Many FBI field offices hold conference calls with local community leaders, and each field office employs a Community Outreach Specialist to engage the community through town hall meetings, public speaking, youth initiatives and citizens’ academies.  The Department’s Community Relations Service has responded to allegations of disparate and discriminatory treatment faced by Arab, Muslim, and Sikh communities across the country by offering conciliation and mediation services, as well as appropriate training programs for law enforcement, government officials and members of the community. 

In addition, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices are working in their districts to engage with their local Arab and Muslim-American communities.

  • U.S. Attorneys’ Offices are reaching out directly to local Arab and Muslim-American leaders and groups to develop closer relationships, participating in local events hosted by Arab and Muslim-American groups in their districts, including annual dinners, mosque openings, lectures and town hall meetings.  And they have sponsored conferences to promote cultural understanding between law enforcement and Arab, Muslim and Sikh-Americans.
  • U.S. Attorneys have worked with other agencies, including the FBI and various Department of Homeland Security components, to conduct outreach through programs such as Project Safe Neighborhood, Weed and Seed, hate crimes task forces, civil rights initiatives and anti-gang efforts.
  • U.S. Attorneys have conducted outreach to the international community, including foreign nationals working in embassies, to share general information about the United States, with a focus on elections, governmental transparency and improving interfaith efforts and race relations.

Working together we will continue to protect and defend our homeland, while upholding the promises of  the Constitution, including respect for civil liberties, a commitment to religious freedom and honor for the diversity of the American people.

Online System Can Help Consumers Avoid Buying Flood-Damaged Vehicles
September 28, 2011 Posted by

The following post appears courtesy of Denise E. O’Donnell, Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

 On August 29th, the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Irene was devastating the eastern coastline of the United States.  Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee both caused major flooding. Evacuations were ordered from Vermont to North Carolina.  

As recovery efforts are underway, one flood-related hazard consumers may want to keep in mind is the impact of floods on vehicles. Severe water damage can make vehicles’ electrical systems, including their airbag sensors, prone to failure.  Despite compromised electrical systems, these vehicles may be dried out, cleaned, and sold to unsuspecting consumers.

Consumers can protect themselves from unknowingly buying a flood-damaged vehicle by purchasing a National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) vehicle history report available at www.vehiclehistory.gov

 This system was created by federal law and is the only publicly available system in the country that requires all insurance carriers, auto recyclers, junk and salvage yards, and states to report vehicle information.  Currently, there are 35 million salvage or total loss records in the system.  In addition, 87 percent of the country’s Department of Motor Vehicle data is represented in the system.  

 A NMVTIS vehicle history report provides information on the five key indicators associated with preventing vehicle-related fraud and theft:

  • Current state of title and last title date;
  • Brand history, a descriptive label assigned by states to indicate a vehicle’s current or prior state—for example: “junk,” “salvage,” “flood;”
  • Odometer reading;  
  • Total loss history; and
  • Salvage history. 

 The report also helps consumers verify the validity of the title to prevent fraud and identify vehicles that are potentially unsafe. If a vehicle has a brand, total loss, or salvage history, then the consumer is warned that the vehicle may be unsafe.  A NMVTIS vehicle history report does not include vehicle repair histories, recall information, and other care and maintenance data available in alternative vehicle history reports.

 Shop smart. Make sure you have all the information about a vehicle before making a purchase.

 For more information about NMVTIS, visit www.vehiclehistory.gov.

Justice Department Asks the Supreme Court to Review the Affordable Care Act
September 28, 2011 Posted by

The Department of Justice filed a cert petition today asking the Supreme Court to review the 2-1 decision of the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit striking down a portion of the Affordable Care Act.   The following statement was released today regarding this action.

“The Department has consistently and successfully defended this law in several court of appeals, and only the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled it unconstitutional. We believe the question is appropriate for review by the Supreme Court.

 “Throughout history, there have been similar challenges to other landmark legislation such as the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act, and all of those challenges failed.  We believe the challenges to Affordable Care Act — like the one in the 11th Circuit — will also ultimately fail and that the Supreme Court will uphold the law.”

 For more information about the Justice Department’s continued defense of the Affordable Care Act, visit justice.gov/healthcare.

 
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