The Department of Justice Gets Blasted Again, This Time by the GAO
Members of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) haven’t responded to Congressional inquiries in as timely of a manner as they should, and that matters because Republicans next year will scrutinize that agency…harshly.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office published a report last week calling out the DOJ for how long they take to reply to members of Congress.
This is a problem, especially now that Republicans are set Tuesday to retake their past majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and possibly even the U.S. Senate.
Republicans will no doubt demand early next year that members of the DOJ — under the leadership of Attorney General Merrick Garland — account for their overly partisan behavior. DOJ and FBI members, as of late, seem to have abused their powers to favor Democrats and undermine conservatives nationwide, especially, former President Donald Trump.
Will DOJ members answer to incoming Congressional Republicans’ requests in a timely manner? Or will the DOJ try to run out the clock?
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“In recent years, certain members of Congress and Committee leaders have raised questions, including during Congressional hearings, about DOJ’s and the FBI’s responsiveness to congressional requests for information. For example, in a June 2021 committee meeting, Members of Congress raised concerns about DOJ’s and FBI’s failure to fully respond to congressional oversight inquiries in a timely manner,” GAO members wrote.
“A Member of Congress expressed similar concerns in an October 2021 hearing. Further, members of Congress questioned the FBI’s responsiveness to congressional correspondence in an August 2022 hearing, stating that the FBI had not responded to certain letters and, in certain instances, provided a response that the FBI would not answer the questions.”
GAO members reviewed the extent to which the DOB tracks and monitors responses to Congressional correspondence and the timeliness of its responses. They reviewed material between 2012 and 2021 and interviewed DOJ officials.
Among the GAO findings:
• The DOJ does not track and monitor the status of its responses to members of Congress.
• The DOJ does not systematically maintain readily available, accurate, and complete data on the universe of responses to Congressional requests in DOJ’s department-wide correspondence management system.
• The DOJ does not maintain reliable data on Congressional correspondence from receipt to disposition.
“For example, GAO analysis of available DOJ congressional correspondence data found that there are records with hundreds or over a thousand days between the date on the letter and the date DOJ documented receipt of the letter,” GAO members wrote.
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As a part of their oversight function, Congressional committees and members of Congress hold hearings and send hundreds of information requests to DOJ and its components each year. These can include requests about DOJ policies or positions on certain issues, requests made as part of congressional hearings for a subsequent written response, and constituent requests for information.
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