A Justice Department plan to eliminate regional offices might lead “dozens of career antitrust lawyers” to quit their jobs, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
Closing offices in Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, and Philadelphia could save the agency $8 million annually, The Post reported. Staff willing to move would be transferred to offices in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, and the department has promised to pay for their relocation.
But “there aren’t a lot of people who’ve been with the division a long time who can pick up and move,” a Philadelphia-based antitrust lawyer told The Post. “Many people have families and spouses with jobs where they’re already located. And there’s no assurances that in two years there won’t be further cuts, and then we’ll lose a job we picked up and moved for.”
The Post quoted Attorney General Eric Holder as saying that the relocation plan “complies with President Obama’s order to dispose of unneeded federal real estate, which saves American taxpayer dollars." Department officials told the paper that consolidation would allow attorneys to focus on larger investigations, and that the move wouldn't reduce nationwide enforcement.
Like other government agencies, DoJ is grappling with both immediate cuts and the specter of deeper cuts in the future. In addition to the planned consolidation of regional offices, the department has implemented a hiring freeze and cut the budget for conferences.
One Atlanta attorney told The Post that, thanks to antitrust litigation, his office brings in 10 times the revenue in fines that it costs the government to maintain.
“If IBM had an office that cost it $2 million a year and it collected $20 million a year, I dare say IBM wouldn't close that office,” the attorney told The Post.
The House and Senate appropriations committees are reviewing the proposed cuts.