On Tuesday, February 9, 2016, President Barack Obama announced that he was seeking $29 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) in his budget for fiscal year 2017. The requested funds will support federal law enforcement priorities and includes increases in funding for countering violent extremism and other national security areas, civil rights and advancing equality under the law. This amount represents an increase of less than 1 percent over what the department received in 2016.
The budget for 2017 allocates approximately $309.6 million to the DOJ-Civil Division, up 17.4 percent over what the section was given for 2016. The Civil Division is the largest litigating component of the DOJ, involved in litigating matters on behalf of over 100 federal agencies each year. The Civil Division handles contract disputes, efforts to combat fraud and the abuse of federal funds, benefits programs, multi-million dollar tort claims, alleged takings of property, intellectual property disputes, defending constitutional and other challenges to Congressional enactments, and defending national security prerogatives and decisions. In addition to litigation, the Civil Division aids in administering three compensation programs – the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program, and the September 11th Victim Compensation Program. In fiscal year 2015, the Civil Division secured over $4 billion in settlements, judgments, fines, and restitution.
The Civil Division budget request provides for 1,334 authorized positions, including 960 attorneys, and includes increases for Immigration Enforcement ($729,000 and 7 positions), Elder Justice ($558,000 and 2 positions), and E-Records ($1.6 million) as well as an increase to the appropriated reimbursement for the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.