More than two years into his term, President Obama has yet to appoint a permanent administrator to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), a federal agency that funds state-level juvenile programs and ensures federal standards are being met, says the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. The delay is partly due to failure of Congress to pass a bill removing the Senate confirmation requirement for this and hundreds of other executive branch appointments.
The push to remove Senate confirmation for the OJJDP top position has been strongly opposed in some quarters. “We have been advocating for a permanent administrator since the first day of the Obama administration,” said Tara Andrews of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice. “That office is small in terms of the federal budget, but in terms of its influence, it is huge.” OJJDP's Acting Administrator Jeff Slowikowski will likely continue to head the agency. “The acting administrator has done a really good job [ ] ut he doesn't have the clout,” said Marion Mattingly, Washington Editor of Juvenile Justice Update. Mattingly, who also opposes the change, added that, “the office really needs someone who was appointed by the president. [The loss of oversight] is bad because I think it lessens the importance of juvenile justice. I worry what the next step could be.” Spanning the last two presidencies, OJJDP has seen a steep decline in funding from a budget of $450 million in 2002, to approximately $180 million in 2011.