We used to work in a U.S. attorney’s office, so we know firsthand that federal government service ain’t Fat City. Having to chip in $25 to attend a colleague’s farewell party, at a venue bearing a suspicious resemblance to a Knights of Columbus Hall, would never happen in the private sector. Law firm good-bye lunches are held at Le Bernardin and Jean-Georges. There’s a reason they call it public service.
But it seems fiscal conditions have worsened since we left government service. The Los Angeles Times reports:
At the [Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's] office in the downtown federal courthouse, basic supplies, like envelopes and binder clips, are scarce.
“It’s nickel-and-dime stuff,” said another member of the office. “If you want to fly a witness in or travel to interview someone, they’re really taking a look at that stuff now.”
Attorneys have been advised to remove microwaves and small refrigerators from their offices because high power bills have prompted their landlord, the General Services Administration, to threaten to raise the rent.
What’s next? Telling assistant U.S. attorneys that “if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down”?
And it’s not just a West Coast problem. Sources also tell us that a number of U.S. Attorney’s Offices on the East Coast have unofficial hiring freezes in effect. These include the venerable Southern District of New York — the traditional “golden child” of federal prosecutors’ offices — and its neighbor across the river, the District of New Jersey. The New Jersey office has over a dozen AUSA vacancies right now, roughly ten percent of the total positions in the office.
The upshot: It’s hard out here for an AUSA.
Attorney’s Offices’ Staffing Is Decried [Los Angeles Times]
Lawmakers Urge Funds for U.S. Attorneys [Washington Post]