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.