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Department of Justice Criticized for Hiding Findings on Diversity

The Department of Justice has recently come under harsh scrutiny from Democrats for the heavy editing of an internal report, tracking the diversity of the department, which was posted on their web site. Russ Kick, a writer and editor from Tucson who operates the website, electronically stripped the blacked out passages of the version of the report the Justice Department had posted, according to the New York Times. Kick found the deleted passages of the report revealed more diversity problems at the Department of Justice than department officials were willing to publish.

The report by consulting firm KPMG was sought by the Department of Justice itself to review its record on race and gender diversity in its attorney workforce. Deleted findings of the KPMG report, however, include details of the "significant diversity issues" faced by the department, the Times reports. Some shortcomings of the department include a perception of "unfairness in a number of human resources practices, such as hiring and promotion" by minorities; the "significant" under-representation of minorities in management ranks; and a higher likelihood of racial minorities to "leave the Department than whites," according to Kick's website. Also deleted was the fact that only 60 percent of women thought the promotion process was fair in regard to gender, as opposed to 81 percent of men, according to columnist Derrick Z. Jackson of the Boston Globe. Jackson also points out that the conclusion that "race and gender combine for a particularly strong negative effect of identity for women" was also deleted.

This week, Representatives John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) have drafted a letter asking Glenn Fine, the Justice Department's inspector general, to investigate the department's decision to delete large portions of the report before publicly releasing it, according to the New York Times. Conyers and Nadler wrote that they found it "outrageous that the very agency that is charged with rooting out discrimination would make it so difficult for the public to scrutinize its own civil rights record," the Times reports. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) has also criticized the way the department has handled the report. At a recent Senate hearing, Kennedy told James B. Comey, deputy attorney general Larry Thompson's successor, that deleting parts of the report "gives the distinct impression that the department commissioned the report, then left it on the shelf, ignoring its recommendations," according to the Times. The study on gender and racial diversity cost the Department $2 million, was finished two years ago, and had not yet been released until October of this year, despite numerous Freedom of Information Act requests.

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Media Resources: New York Times 11/4/04, 10/31/03;; Boston Globe 11/5/03

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