Civil Rights Division

Policies and Procedures for Establishing Litigation Priorities, Tracking and Managing Casework, and Disseminating Litigation Results Gao ID: GGD-00-58R February 17, 2000

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division's, which uses the abbreviation CRT, management of its responsibilities, focusing on: (1) CRT's role in establishing and coordinating governmentwide civil rights policies and litigation priorities; (2) the division's guidelines, policies, and procedures for tracking and managing its caseload; and (3) the division's guidelines, policies, and procedures for disseminating the results of litigation.

GAO noted that: (1) CRT's role in establishing civil rights policies and litigation priorities and coordinating these with other federal agencies is varied; (2) CRT officials told GAO that they have had a role under Executive Order 12250 to coordinate and review federally assisted programs to ensure consistent and effective enforcement of federal statutes prohibiting discrimination; (3) CRT's Coordination and Review section has had primary responsibility for this function; (4) division officials said that they also coordinated with federal agencies that have civil rights enforcement responsibilities to share information about cases, discuss litigation strategies, review and comment on policy issues, and help ensure legal consistency; (5) CRT officials told GAO that CRT established de facto civil rights policies as the primary litigator of civil rights cases and that, in its capacity as investigator and litigator, CRT also identified policy issues; (6) CRT's primary tool for tracking and managing most of its caseload has been its Case Management System (CMS); (7) sections within the division have used auxiliary systems for case management to track some of their activities because the CMS did not meet their needs; (8) at the time of GAO's review, CRT was implementing a new database system called the Interactive Case Management (ICM) system; (9) the new system was designed to include functions for case management, correspondence tracking, debt collection, and staff time reporting; (10) it was also to provide standard data fields and to document divisionwide processes, procedures, and rules; (11) according to division officials, the ICM system will enable division managers to: (a) analyze performance; (b) improve accountability; and (c) report accurate data at all levels of the organization; (12) GAO observed that the ICM as designed will not enable CRT to report cost-based performance measures, a requirement of the Government Performance and Results Act; (13) litigation results are disseminated internally and externally through a variety of methods, according to the Voting, Employment, and Housing sections chiefs; (14) some of the methods involve one-on-one communication, and others involve communication through various public media, the Internet, and newsletters; and (15) several specialized professional legal publications track civil rights law and report on CRT's cases and policies.

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