Threats to Feds Not Tracked
December 1, 1997
The Justice Department has asked Congress to eliminate a requirement that it
publish a list of threats and violence against government employees, The
Washington Post reported Monday.
"We have sent draft legislative language to Congress asking that the mandate
for a report to Congress be lifted because it was too hard for the FBI to
identify bona fide threats," Justice Department spokesman John Russell said.
The 1996 anti-terrorism bill, which was adopted after the Oklahoma City
bombing, requires the Justice Department to publish statistics going back to
1990 on threats or crimes against federal, state and local employees and
their immediate families when the wrongdoing is related to the workers'
official duties. The numbers are supposed to be published in an annual report.
The Justice Department, though, said the statistics are too difficult to
collect because threats are not routinely reported to the FBI and law
enforcement agencies do not normally categorize crimes according to the
employment of the victims.
National Treasury Employees Union President Robert M. Tobias said he will
fight the Justice Department's request.
"Of course there is no easy system for collecting this data, but that is not
an excuse not to do it," he said. "These numbers are sufficiently important
that a system ought to be created to assemble them."
In 1995, employees at the IRS reported 29 assaults and 825 verbal threats,
according to agency records. The Federal Protective Service reported that in
1995, 10,816 serious crimes, including rape, robbery and aggravated assault,
occurred in federal buildings.
In October, Vice President Al Gore issued guidelines aimed at reducing
violence in the federal workplace. The guidelines are contained in a 135-page
handbook, "Dealing with Workplace Violence," developed by the Office of
Personnel Management and an interagency work group. The guide describes how
to create crisis management teams, gives examples of written policies on
workplace violence and discusses the legal issues involved when protecting
employees from danger.
Congress is expected to consider the Justice Department's proposal to scrap
the requirement to tally threats and violence against government employees
when it convenes in January.