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From Congress Daily:

Attorney general orders refresher courses for federal prosecutors
CongressDaily April 15, 2009

In the wake of the botched prosecution of former Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, Attorney General Eric Holder is ordering all federal prosecutors to take a refresher course in their requirements to turn over all evidence to the defense in criminal cases. Failure of prosecutors to give the Stevens defense team key documents led Holder to drop the case April 1…

In the coming week, Holder said “federal prosecutors throughout the department” will get supplemental training in their obligations to give the defense all evidence in criminal cases. Holder set up a working group of senior prosecutors and department officials to review practices in criminal cases. The group will be headed by the assistant attorney general of the criminal division and the chairman of the attorney general’s advisory committee.

Attorney General Holder is emerging as among the most intriguing figures in the Obama cabinet. The legacies of the Bush administration have created an environment favoring Holder’s efforts to revise and reinforce legal professionalism in DOJ. He is a “true believer” and seems intent on (re)infusing a particular set of professional values through the ranks. Unfortunately, from a scholarly perspective, this type of leadership strategy is not particularly well-structured. It seems to me there is room to think more systematically about the interplay between presidents and the variety of professionalisms –¬† PA, law, accounting, the sciences.

One knock on the Obama administration thus far is that it has not articulated a “management” philosophy – it’s all policy, leaving management in the lurch. History and the heavy hand of the Bush administration’s President’s Management Agenda (PMA) lead observers to expect a big set of administrative principles and priorities. The uncertainty one hears from managers across the agencies could become an important weakness in the administration’s efforts to enact a broad and ambitious set of policy commitments. And, no doubt, the failure of the administration to get many senior positions confirmed and in place has been an exacerbating factor. However, a contrasting perspective emphasizes instead an administrative strategy rooted in a professional as opposed to a managerial logic. (Here I am borrowing Eliot Freidson’s language). Rather than shape bureaucratic behavior through management and planning, a professional logic shapes behavior through¬† norms, prestige, and professional governance. I’m certain there are many counter-examples, but certainly at DOJ, FEMA, the agencies responsible for science policy – the Obama approach to the agencies seems rooted in a kind of contingent strategy oriented around varieties of professionalism. Naive? Perhaps.

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