Attorney General Eric Holder sent a memo to Justice Department employees last week saying he has ordered a hiring freeze and is asking the FBI, ATF, DEA and U.S. Marshals Service to curb non-personnel spending.
In his memo Holder notes that the government is currently being funded until March 4 under a continuing resolution that keeps funding under last year's levels. In the memo, a copy of which was obtained by ABC News, Holder says the measures being implemented will help the Department avoid the possibility of "more severe measures such as staff furloughs."
Read the memo, "Budget Implications for the Department of Justice Workforce," HERE.
The Attorney General wrote in the memo, "As many of you know, agencies across the Federal Government are facing unprecedented budget challenges. The government is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) through March 4, 2011, with funding under the CR limited to last year's budget. While we do not yet know what actions will be taken to fund the Justice Department for the remainder of the fiscal year (FY) which ends September 30, 2011, there is a realistic prospect that the Department will have to operate for the entire fiscal year at last year's levels. This presents significant budget challenges as the cost of our operations and staffing is considerably higher this year."
The Justice Department's budget request for the current fiscal year included a 5.4 percent funding increase, with over 2,800 employees being added to department's workforce.
In his memo Holder writes, "This week, I issued a memorandum to all Component Heads outlining the financial measures that we need to take to ensure the Department can operate through FY 2011 within our budget. Given the Department's vast size and broad responsibilities, the financial restrictions that I announced will be difficult but given our funding constraints are required. One of the measures that I announced was a temporary freeze on hiring. I also directed that components curtail non-personnel spending unless it is necessary for essentail operations."
According to Justice Department officials the measures include canceling non-essential travel and attending conferences. The Department's missions for counterterrorism and anti-drug operations are not expected to be affected.
"The actions I have announced, including the general freeze on hiring, are designed to keep the Department operating as effectively as possible considering the budget constraints. We are taking these steps now in the hope that they will allow us to avoid more severe future measures, such as staff furloughs," Holder writes.
"Thank you for your outstanding contributions and ongoing commitment to the Department of Justice, especially in these difficult economic times."