Nepotism at the US Justice Department revealed by watchdog report

US Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the Justice Department.

Senior officials at the US Justice Department violated federal rules banning nepotism in hiring by giving jobs to their own family members or helping to hire colleagues’ relatives between May 2008 and September 2010, the department’s inspector general said today in a report, according to Federal Times.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said eight career employees in the federal agency’s Justice Management Division – the director and deputy director of facilities and administrative services (FASS), the director and two assistant directors of human resources and a senior adviser to a deputy assistant attorney general – improperly hired employees, the Associated Press reported.

After the division’s FASS Director Edward Hamilton hired the daughter of the assistant HR director in November 2009, the assistant HR director hired Hamilton’s son as a payroll specialist in January 2010, the IG’s report said, according to Federal Times. Meanwhile, in 2009, the director of the human resources office lobbied for jobs for his cousin and a nephew, resulting in a budget office position for the cousin and a paid summer internship in the national security division for the nephew. Of the three senior officials, only Hamilton is still working at the Justice Department, according to the report.

According to Government Executive magazine:

Relatives of JMD employees occupied six of its 11 paid human resources internships during the second quarter of 2010, which later gave those relatives a leg up in earning career appointments.

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It’s not the first time employees at the Justice Management Division have been accused of improperly hiring staff, Government Executive reported. The IG criticized directors at the agency in 2004 and 2008 for “manipulating the competitive hiring process to favor particular candidates,” according to Government Executive.

The Justice Department's Assistant Attorney General for Administration Lee J. Lofthus said today that the agency would take “appropriate and immediate corrective actions to ensure the problems are not repeated,” including “disciplinary and other actions as appropriate based on the circumstances of each of the cases raised in this report,” Government Executive reported.

“Nepotism has no place in any federal agency, and it is especially disturbing coming from the Department of Justice – the agency charged with enforcing the law,” Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), who asked the inspector general to investigate the latest nepotism allegations, said in a statement, according to the AP.

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