Term Paper: Government Performance Results Act

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[. . .] ojp.usdoj.gov),where visitors find a huge self-congratulatory news release on grants. Visitors learn that on June 10, 2003, DOJ "accepted an E-Gov 2003 Explorer Award today honoring innovation in e-government for its Grants Management System (GMS)." Is this a rebuttal to criticism of loosely-administered grants? Possibly, it is.

As to the GAO's criticism of the INS: "there is some question about the credibility of the performance data"; data for deterrence of entrance by illegal aliens "were [only] estimated because data was not available"; "...43% of aliens released from detention prior to a determination of their asylum status had not appeared for subsequent removal hearings"; "INS has failed to identify many deportable criminal aliens." Meanwhile, the DOJ's Web site offers its "performance report" for 2002, which claims "...nearly 100% of INS systems and sites are expected to meet IT security requirements by FY 2003." Also, DOJ admits that "Service-wide security vulnerabilities (identified in FY 2001 and FY 2002) may still exist," but not to worry, they "will be addressed through intrusion detection and auditing capability," and thus "ensure increasing protection of the confidentiality and integrity of information and reduce vulnerability to penetration of the INS systems." That sounds like a direct rejoinder to the GAO's 2001 critique. And so, if indeed the DOJ is getting its act together, the GAO is doing the job that GPRA authorized it do to - put pressure where pressure is needed to encourage reform.

The DOJ's Web site assures visitors that "The Department is responsible for ensuring [INS] detainees are housed in humane and safe environments. This flies in the face of allegations, widespread allegations - particularly following the 9/11 incidents - that Muslims have been subject to inhumane treatment. To wit, a story in the Los Angeles Times (Perry, 2002) quotes an immigration attorney charging the INS with "atrocious and inhumane" treatment after their sudden arrests under the U.S.A. Patriot Act. Attorney Banafsheh Akhlaghi said her seven clients were "shackled at the hands and waist" and "denied permission to see their families. These "detainees" had voluntarily appeared at the INS as "over-stayers."

As to the additional measures put in place by the controversial USA Patriot Act: the DOJ's Web site asserts that "Section 215 of the Patriot Act," which authorizes the government to demand that any form of American organization - including a school, a bookstore, a hospital, or a library - must turn its records over to the FBI, cannot be put into place unless "probably cause" can be demonstrated by the government. But the American Civil Liberties Union says that, in fact, the law "contains no such restriction. Section 215 requires only that the DOJ declare that the records are 'sought for' an ongoing investigation," the ALCU asserts. "The 'sought for' standard is an extremely lenient one, and it bears no resemblance to 'probable cause' - they continue. "That the standard is so low is especially troubling in light of [Ashcroft's] recent acknowledgement (at a June 2003 Congressional hearing) that the FBI could use Section 215 to obtain not only library and bookstore records but also computer files, educational records, and even genetic information."


It is clear the GAO, acting under the authority of Congress and the GPRA legislation, has a big job to do, and is doing it as well as anyone could expect, given the reticence of some departments to provide "performance" data and goals. And yet, there is only so much that the GAO can do. The media has a duty and a watchdog's responsibility to dig out the truth about waste, mismanagement, and violation of human and civil rights. After all, the current Attorney General, John Ashcroft, is a hard-line religious right ultra conservative who has shown a contempt for the Bill of Rights - through his brutal post-9/11 arrests and treatment of foreign visitors not even suspected of terrorist connections - and his pushing of the U.S.A. Patriot Act II (ripe with abusive power to potentially snoop on innocent civilians). And this is an AG who had more votes against his nomination (42) than any previously nominated individual. Should the GAO be given more power? No. But the Congress has a duty to enter into a new post-9/11 phase, and stand up to the executive branch - which has pretty successfully wrapped all current issues in secrecy, the flag, and patriotism - and independently protect Americans from waste, abuse, and mismanagement of resources.


American Civil Liberties Union (2003). "ACLU Demands Truth From Justice

Department: New Report Details False Claims about SCOPE, Impact of PATRIOT Act." http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=13100&c=206.

Kast, Sheila (2001). "Terror probe raises concerns about civil rights." CNN.com. http://www.cnn.com/2001/U.S./10/22/inv.civil.rights/

Perry, Tony (2002). "Immigration Attorney for 7 Detainees Lashes Out At INS:

Lawyer says the Patriot Act has been applied unevenly, resulting in 'atrocious and inhumane' treatment. Los Angeles Times.

The United States General Accounting Office (2001). "Reports on the Government Performance and Results Act: GAO Reports on Agencies' Fiscal

Year 2000 Performance Reports and Fiscal Year 2002 Performance Plans:

Department of Justice: Status of Achieving Key Outcomes and Addressing

Major Management Challenges.

GAO-01-729, June 26." http://www.gao.gov/new.items/gpra/gpra.htm.

The U.S. Department of Justice (2003). Office of Justice Programs. "U.S.


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