The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-76) mandated an independent assessment of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. The National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy) was chosen to conduct this review that focused on the management and operations of the Civil Rights Division including policies, protocols, and practices related to enforcement actions and decision-making, hiring, and other human resource practices.
To answer our charge, the Academy convened an expert Panel of six Fellows with broad federal, executive leadership, legal, and academic experience, as well as knowledge and experience in the Department of Justice and in human resource management.
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The Panel found that the Civil Rights Division comprises a workforce of deeply committed employees dedicated to the division’s mission and that leadership has made positive changes to address issues identified in previous reviews and in response to employee concerns. The Panel also found that division leadership’s primary focus is on cases and legal issues and determined that the Civil Rights Division could improve employee morale, teamwork, and productivity by placing greater emphasis on operational management. The division has an opportunity to build on the progress it has made and the deep commitment of its employees to the mission to provide a strong institutional foundation for making continued improvements that will position the division for the future.
Based on the management and operational issues identified, the Panel developed a series of recommendations, including implementation steps, to strengthen the management and operations of the Civil Rights Division. Specifically, the recommendations are designed to help the division take additional steps to promote public confidence in the division’s fair and impartial enforcement of civil rights laws and foster and maintain a professional, collegial, and teamwork-oriented work environment. In addition, the report sets forth an integrated management framework designed to institutionalize best practices that encompass operational management policies and processes, strategic planning, communication practices, employee engagement, performance management, and staff and leadership development. To assist leaders in assessing the performance of the division and developing strategies that promote continuous improvement, the Panel recommends that the Civil Rights Division implement a management review process.