Justice watchdog Fine leaves after 10 years

By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

Glenn Fine is leaving his job as the top watchdog at the Department of Justice after ten years in that role.

Fine, who has been with the Office of the Inspector General for more than 15 years, told Federal News Radio that the priorities of the IG shifted to counterterroism after Sept. 11.

The OIG issued “some very important reports” since the attacks, including a 2003 report about the treatment of undocumented immigrants in a detention center in Brooklyn, Fine said his office also has issued a report about the FBI’s lack of internal controls for using national security letters.

“I think that was a wake-up call to the FBI,” Fine said.

The OIG oversees all of Justice, including the FBI, the U.S. Marshals, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, among other components of Justice. Fine said the role of the IG is not only to identify problems but also offer recommendations to improve the department.

“While we are not management and we cannot require anyone to implement the recommendation, [managers] have to respond to them,” Fine said. “I’ve been lucky the department has taken our recommendations seriously.”

Fine first joined the federal service as an assistant district attorney in Washington, D.C., after graduating Harvard Law School in 1985.

His career could have taken a much different turn earlier in his life. As an undergraduate at Harvard College, Fine had been drafted by the San Antonio Spurs. However, Fine said he knew he would not make a career out of basketball.

He said most people are surprised he was drafted because he is not very tall. “I say to them, Before I started this job as the IG, I was six-foot-nine, not five-foot-nine,” he joked.

As IG, Fine said one initiative he pushed for was the inclusion of jurisdiction over “attorneys in the exercise of their legal duties,” such as attorney misconduct, Fine said. Instead, that duty falls on the Office of Professional Responsibilities.

“I’ve argued that we ought to have jurisdiction over attorneys, just like we have jurisdiction over other parts of the department,” Fine said. “Every other inspector general in the federal community has jurisdiction over their entire department except for us.”

Starting Monday, Fine’s new job will be carpool duty for his kids. He said he doesn’t know yet where the next chapter of his career will lie, but will “take some time and look widely.”

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