The Justice Department agency that awards anticrime grants has halted its participation in a governmentwide outsourcing project that a union had charged could have resulted in contracting out the work of most of the unit’s employees. Assistant Attorney General Regina Schofield, head of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), told employees of the action last week. OJP includes the Justice Department’s research, statistics, and grantmaking arms, as well as the Office for Victims of Crime. Under the process, which has been discussed internally for several years, some workers were to be told next week if their jobs would be downgraded. Many employees have taken early retirement packages or otherwise resigned because of the outsourcing initiative, which is named A-76 for an Office of Management and Budget order on the subject.
Schofield did not explain the reasons for the unexpected action. Crime & Justice News was told that it stemmed largely from objections from key members of Congress. The Justice Department refused to discuss the matter, instead releasing a statement that “There were sufficient issues raised concerning the proposal that OJP decided not to continue the process.” Stuart Smith, president of AFSCME Local 2830, which represents OJP employees, said the union was “relieved that we don’t have go through downgrading.” He noted that because an employee group had won a competition to perform the work, the union had avoided the prospect of layoffs. Still, OJP’s employee count has fallen from 837 in 2002 to 620 as the outsourcing plan has been under consideration with a hiring freeze in force. OJP said it would use lessons learned from the process “to incorporate efficiencies into existing operations where changes add value and result in efficiency or cost savings.”