Justice Department officials on Monday rolled out the department's $28.2 billion fiscal year 2012 proposed budget, which calls for adding attorneys to focus on national security, appellate litigation and intellectual property enforcement.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole, discussing the budget with reporters at the Justice Department, said the request marks a 1.7% increase over the continuing resolution level that extended previous spending until March.
Cole said the attorney general has implemented a temporary hiring freeze and a freeze on non-essential spending “to ensure that we have the funds that we really need to perform our essential function and our essential mission.”
“This budget is going to strengthen national security, preserve the department’s traditional missions, maintain prison and detention operations and assist our state, local and tribal law enforcement partners,” Cole said.
The DOJ budget proposal calls for five additional attorneys and 71 agents in the national security arena, including two lawyers to focus on counterterrorism and counterespionage. The proposed budget asks for $122.5 million in additional funding for the FBI, including funding for electronic surveillance improvements.
The budget also asks for two more lawyers in the Office of the Solicitor General. DOJ officials said the request for the two attorneys stems from an increasing work load on terrorism and financial crisis cases. In December, the department began advertising for an appellate chief to oversee a national docket of terrorism cases. For OSG, the proposed budget totals $11.3 million, a 5% increase from the 2011 continuing resolution level.
DOJ officials want to pump $3 million more into the Criminal Division, including adding six attorneys, to focus on transnational intellectual property enforcement. Overall, the department is asking for 22 more attorneys for the division in a budget request that is a 13.4% increase over previous funding.
The budget requests a total of $8.4 billion for prisons and detention, a 10% increase in response to prison crowding, DOJ officials said. Part of the prison increase includes activating three prisons. The additional money would also fund 800 new correctional staffers.
DOJ officials said cuts include slashing the funding for the National Drug Intelligence Center in half, to about $25 million. The department also wants to eliminate the Drug Enforcement Administration Mobile Enforcement Team program, saving the department nearly $40 million. The teams assist local law enforcement agencies conduct drug investigations.
“We’re operating in an austere fiscal environment. There’s no question about it,” Assistant Attorney General Lee Lofthus said Monday, addressing reporters. “So we looked hard at operations that we could rescale. We looked at duplication across the department. We looked at information technology projects. We looked at administrative areas for savings.”