03.11.08

The New Policy From The Department Of Justice On Selection And Use Of Corporate Monitors

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, March 11, 2008) -- The Justice Department yesterday issued new guidelines for the awarding of contracts to firms that monitor compliance with out-of-court settlements and deferred prosecution agreements in criminal investigations.  The new policies come more than two months after press reports signaled that the Justice Department was awarding no-bid contracts to former Justice Department officials, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s firm.  Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)wrote to Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Jan. 10, seeking details of the contracts, including a list of all contracts awarded since 2001 to outside lawyers for monitoring purposes, and the procedure by which firms are selected for the contracts.  Leahy has not yet received a response from the Attorney General.  Also in January, Leahy and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate the awarding of the no-bid contracts. 

“The Department's new policies regarding the selection and use of monitors is an overdue step to make sure that lucrative contracts are not funneled to insiders, including former political office-holders and appointees.  I am disappointed that the policy does not appear to address possible excessive compensation in some of these agreements, such as the contract worth as much as $52 million directed by New Jersey U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie to former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s consulting firm.  These new policies may be a step in the right direction, but I still await important answers to questions I asked the Attorney General two months ago about these contracts, their amounts, and how they have been awarded and implemented.”

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