CBSN

DOJ Censors Diversity Study

Department of Justice race diversity
CBS/AP
A report by consultants about hiring and promotion of minority and women attorneys at the Justice Department was heavily edited to delete criticisms before it was publicly released on the Internet.

Although the statistical information was kept in the edited version, most of the conclusions by KPMG Consulting and Taylor Cox & Associates — even some complimentary ones — were blackened out. The report was initiated in January 2002 and completed in June 2002, but kept under wraps until its partial release earlier this month.

Justice Department officials Friday defended the editing as recommended by career lawyers at the agency because it is part of the "deliberative process" prior to a decision. They stressed numerous ongoing programs to hire and retain greater numbers of minority and women attorneys.

"This wasn't required of us to do," said Stacey Plaskett Duffy, senior counsel to the deputy attorney general. "We wanted an outside assessment of what the department looked like."

After the edited version was released on the Justice Department's web site, the deleted portions were electronically reconstructed by the Tucson, Ariz. operator of a web site called thememoryhole.org. The original report was then posted on that web site.

It shows that the Justice Department's editors chose to delete most of the conclusions, which Duffy said was necessary because they were opinions and recommendations meant for internal department decision-making. She said the statistics, which were released, adequately portray the situation.

One deleted passage says improving diversity "will take extraordinarily strong leadership" among top Justice Department officials. Another says the agency "does face significant diversity issues" and that "minorities are significantly more likely than whites to cite stereotyping, harassment and racial tension" in the workplace.

The statistics show that Justice's 9,200 attorneys are actually more diverse than the nation's ranks of lawyers as a whole. The department's attorneys are 38 percent female, compared with 30 percent nationally, and 15 percent minority, compared with 12 percent.

Yet minorities made up only 7 percent of career management-level attorneys and 11 percent of supervisory assistant U.S. attorneys, with women making up 31 percent and 37 percent respectively. Minorities also were 49 percent more likely to leave the Justice Department than whites.

Duffy said that despite the editing, many of the KPMG-Taylor Cox report's recommendations had been implemented along with others not suggested. These include mentoring programs, money for repayment of student loans, department-wide posting of attorney job openings and expanded efforts to recruit a more diverse work force. =

Announcing the study in January 2002, the-Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson said: "The success of the Justice Department's mission depends on public confidence in the ability of the Department to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans. To maintain that trust, the Department must build and retain an attorney work force that, in addition to a demonstrated commitment to excellence, appropriately reflects the diversity of our society."