The Department of Justice released President Obama’s FY 2017 Budget proposal on Tuesday, asking for an increase of $1.1 billion for the department’s law enforcement divisions. The overall FY 2017 Budget proposal is $29 billion to support federal enforcement priorities and the criminal justice priorities of state, local and tribal law enforcement partners.  The proposed budget break down is $27 billion for federal programs and $2 billion set aside for state, local and tribal assistance initiatives.

Included in the proposed $1.1 billion are investments in funding the U.S. Attorneys with a 3.7 percent increase for those offices’ efforts to improve eDiscovery capabilities and as well as other initiatives.  Specifically, the Department of Justice (“DOJ’) has requested $19.6 million to add 138 positions of which 24 will be attorneys, to address the need for additional resources and IT infrastructure in order to be competitive with the private sector in addressing the shift from paper discovery to electronic discovery.  The amount of electronic information that comprises the evidence in investigations has increased significantly therefore, the DOJ has stated their commitment to devoting more personnel to collect, process, review, and produce electronic discovery in their budget request. 

The litigation sections of the DOJ which include the U.S. Attorneys, Criminal and Civil Divisions are slated to see a $73 million increase in available funds. The FBI, DEA, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Marshals Service and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force will also see an increase in discretionary funds.  Should the proposed budget be approved, the DOJ’s Criminal Division would receive $198.7 million, a 9.3 percent increase from 2016, and the Civil Division would receive $309.6 million, up 17.4 percent from 2016.  OIG-HHS has $1.2 million earmarked in the budget to add 6 positions to help manage the dramatic increase in whistleblower retaliation cases. 

The DOJ’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) are seeking a 10 percent increase in funding, bringing the FTC to $342 million and the Antitrust Division to $180.5 million in allotted funds.  The Antitrust Division will use $15 million of the additional funding to add 152 new employees, including 98 attorneys.  The DOJ said it needs the additional funds because of the growth of both its merger and criminal cartel enforcement workload.

The FTC’s increased funding will allow the addition of 13 new positions dedicated to merger and anti-competitive conduct work as well as three positions for the Bureau of Economics to help support its data analysis for investigations and studies, particularly those dealing with the health care, pharmaceutical and energy industries. The agency said bringing economic experts in-house will reduce the agencies reliance on expensive outside experts.  The agency will also add a position in the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Office of Litigation Technology and Analysis for litigation and technical research for competition-related activities and lastly, the FTC will add three employees to the Office of Policy and Planning of the Executive Director to enhance its competition work by improving the agency’s IT infrastructure. 

The FTC and the Antitrust Division evenly split premerger filing fees companies pay if they trigger the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act filing thresholds.  The agencies are anticipating collecting $128 million in premerger filing fees which will provide the majority of funding for both agencies. The FTC also expects to receive $15 million in do-not-call fees.  Both of those estimates are higher than projected numbers for FY 2016 which are $124 million and $14 million, respectively.

Overall the FY 2017 Budget Proposal represents a comprehensive investment in the DOJ’s stated mission and provides increases in funding for key priorities: countering violent extremism and other national security areas, cyber security, Smart on Crime activities, community policing and public safety, protecting vulnerable populations, updating critical infrastructure and lastly, state, local and tribal assistance. 

“The FY 2017 budget reflects the attorney general’s highest priorities: safeguarding our national security, identifying and pursuing cyber threat actors, strengthening relationships with the communities we serve, protecting the most vulnerable among us and ensuring that we hold lawbreakers accountable regardless of whether they commit their crimes on the street corner or in the boardroom,” the DOJ said in a statement according to Law360.