Federal Efforts to Eradicate Employment Discrimination in State and Local Governments: An Assessment of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Employment Litigation Section

Appendix B

ELS’ Resources

The Budget Process

To carry out its civil rights enforcement responsibilities, the Civil Rights Division must receive sufficient resources (appropriations and staff) to support all 12 of its sections (10 program-related sections, the Office of Redress Administration, and the Administrative Management Section). In explaining how appropriations are allocated to the Division’s sections, ELS’ section chief indicated that budget submissions are guided by outside priorities and initiatives of the Department, administration, and the courts, and not solely on the Section’s own assessment of its needs.[1]

Numerous steps in the budget process and decisions about funding and enhancement do not include the input of the Section.[2] After a directive from the Division on the budget parameters, the section chiefs submit budget requests to the Division’s Administrative Management Section (AMS). AMS reviews the submissions and prepares the Division’s budget request as a package. AMS forwards the package to the Division’s executive or “front” office under the assistant attorney general for civil rights. The front office and the assistant attorney general review the submissions, make any necessary changes to ensure that the priorities of the Division are reflected, and resubmit the budget package to AMS. It is at this point that decisions about any enhancements are made.[3] Once the Division’s budget is finalized, it is forwarded to the Department’s Justice Management Division (JMD), which is in the attorney general’s executive office.[4] JMD finalizes the Department’s budget package, making any changes it deems necessary with approval of the attorney general, and submits the package to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).[5]

Oversight of the entire budget process for the Division is handled by the Office of the Assistant Attorney General, and the ELS section chief acknowledges that it is unclear to her what occurs between that office and OMB.[6] Except for any requests for clarification, the offices handling the budget communicate very little with the sections. In some cases, AMS may contact a section in its review, and at that time, sections may have the opportunity to respond.[7] The section chief said that, for the most part, the budget process is handled “on paper.”[8] ELS usually does not get final feedback on its request until the budget has undergone full review and is part of the Department’s approved budget.[9]

Appropriations and Staff Allocations

ELS has been working under budget limitations for the past 20 years. Although the Section’s actual appropriations more than doubled in the period between 1980 and 2000, the increase has not been sufficient to account for inflation and increased enforcement responsibilities. During the 1980s, ELS’ budget appropriations fluctuated only modestly. On average, the Section’s appropriations increased between $200,000 and $300,000 from year to year, although there were two years when the Section received less than the year prior (1982 and 1986).[10] Overall, between 1980 and 1990, the Section received a nearly 75 percent increase in appropriations, but in “real” dollars (accounting for inflation) this was not a significant increase.

As table B1 demonstrates, during the 1980s, ELS’ actual staffing numbers also remained consistent, but there was a marked decrease in the number of congressionally authorized position allotments. Between 1981 and 1982, the Section lost 14 positions as a result of administration budget cuts.[11] As the following discussion will show, both position allotments and staffing numbers remained consistent, after this initial decrease, through fiscal year 2000.

During the past five years, in particular, ELS has also received consistent appropriations. Table B2 shows that between 1995 and 2000, ELS’ budget increase totaled slightly more than $1 million, increasing from $5.40 million in FY 1995 to $6.50 million in FY 2000. Table B2 also indicates that the change from year to year was, on the average, $220,000 with the largest increase, $430,000, in FY 2000 and the smallest increase, $100,000, in FY 1997. Despite the modest increase in appropriations, it is noteworthy that ELS has been required to maintain its enforcement responsibilities.

TABLE B: ELS Appropriations and Staff

(1) Selected Early Years









Permanent position allotments 




Actual full-time-equivalent work years





Allocation (in millions)*





(2) Fiscal Years 1995–2000









Permanent position allotments 







Actual full-time-equivalent work years








Allocation (in millions)*







 * Dollar amounts are rounded to the nearest hundredth.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, FY 1980–2000 Congressional Budget Submissions.

During fiscal year 1995, ELS received funding of $5.40 million, which represents no substantial increase in allocations. Despite this, ELS’ responsibilities increased with the addition of more defensive matters to its workload as a result of the 1995 Adarand decision.[12]

Again, in fiscal year 1996, the appropriations for the staffing of ELS changed very little.[13] The Section received $5.63 million to support 62 permanent positions.[14] This was $114,000 less than the $5.74 million ELS had requested, but the Section did receive the 62 permanent positions requested.[15] The increase in appropriations supported cost of living increases and general operational costs, but was not sufficient to increase program initiatives during fiscal year 1996.[16] Despite not receiving a real increase in funding, ELS experienced another increase in its workload, particularly with respect to its right-to-sue program.

In fiscal year 1997, ELS requested an increase in appropriations to $6.31 million, but actually received $5.64 million, while the staffing stayed consistent at 62 permanent positions.[17]

Ultimately, however, ELS was required to process a significant increase in EEOC referrals and requests for right-to-sue letters, and ELS staff had to maintain a high level of defensive activity while receiving only a slight increase in funding of about $100,000 for fiscal year 1997.[18]

In fiscal year 1998, the budget increased modestly to $5.86 million for 62 full-time employees, an increase of slightly more than $220,000 from the previous year.[19] In fiscal year 1999, ELS again received a modest increase in appropriations: $6.07 million, an increase of approximately $210,000, barely enough to cover cost of living increases, let alone additional workload.[20]

In fiscal year 2000, ELS had the largest increase in funding since 1995. ELS was appropriated $6.50 million for 62 permanent positions and a full-time equivalent of 59 persons.[21] This was less than the $6.52 million requested, but an increase of $430,000 from the $6.07 million received the previous year.[22] This increase, which was the largest funding increase over the five-year review period, arrived at an appropriate time, as the number of EEOC referrals and the number of cases pending had also increased, but still the demands on the Section’s resources exceeded the available funding.

In summary, although the appropriations for ELS increased from $5.40 million in FY 1995 to $6.50 million in FY 2000, ELS has not had an increase in staffing since FY 1995 with the number of authorized full-time personnel remaining at 62, and the actual number of full-time employees fluctuating between 61 in FY 1995 and 58 in FY 2000.[23] Despite minimal increases in appropriations and no increase in authorized staff, the actual workload of ELS has steadily increased, as this report has demonstrated. In essence, significant increases in workload occurred with only modest increases in budget, most of which covered increases in operational expenses, and none of which included funding for additional program initiatives.

[1] Katherine Baldwin, chief, Employment Litigation Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, interview in Washington, DC, Nov. 28, 2000, p. 103 (hereafter cited as Baldwin interview); William Yeomans, acting assistant attorney general for civil rights, and Richard Jerome, counsel to the assistant attorney general, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, interview in Washington, DC, May 30, 2001, pp. 30–32, 43 (hereafter cited as Yeomans and Jerome interview).

[2] Yeomans and Jerome interview, pp. 50–53.

[3] Baldwin interview, pp. 93–94; Yeomans and Jerome interview, p. 51.

[4] Baldwin interview, pp. 92, 96; Yeomans and Jerome interview, p. 51.

[5] Yeomans and Jerome interview, pp. 50–52.

[6] Baldwin interview, pp. 94–96.

[7] Yeomans and Jerome interview, p. 52.

[8] Baldwin interview, p. 96.

[9] Ibid., pp. 95–96.

[10] U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Federal Enforcement of Equal Employment Requirements, clearinghouse publication 93 (July 1987), p. 62. The 1986 budget decrease was the result of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings budget deficit reduction legislation.

[11] Ibid., pp. 63–64. Note that in 1983 the Civil Rights Division underwent a reorganization, and the Federal Enforcement Section was renamed the Employment Litigation Section, although the shift in workload was minimal.

[12] U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Financial Operations Staff, FY 1997 Congressional Budget Submission, p. G-46 (hereafter cited as CRD, FY 1997 Budget Submission).

[13] CRD, FY 1998 Budget Submission, p. G-62.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] CRD, FY 1999 Budget Submission, p. G-80; CRD, FY 1998 Budget Submission, p. G-62.

[18] CRD, FY 2000 Budget Submission, p. G-88.

[19] CRD, FY 2001 Budget Submission, p. G-84; CRD, FY 2000 Budget Submission, p. G-88.

[20] CRD, FY 2001 Budget Submission, p. G-84.

[21] Ibid.

[22] CRD, FY 2000 Budget Submission, p. G-88.

[23] Ibid.; CRD, FY 2001 Budget Submission, p. G-84.