- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2000

The District of Columbia could lose $27 million for drug treatment if the presidential nomination of John A. "Jay" Carver III as head of the city's Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency is scuttled, congressional sources familiar with the funding said.

The House Appropriations subcommittee on the District was prepared to provide $27 million in drug treatment funding for the agency, but those funds have been jeopardized by the efforts of D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and the Justice Department to block Mr. Carver's nomination.

The funding was planned to provide drug treatment for 2,500 people on parole and establish a transition center for parole violators.

Mr. Carver's reform efforts at the agency have earned the respect of Rep. Ernest Istook, the subcommittee's chairman, and congressional sources tell The Washington Times the Oklahoma Republican is prepared to eliminate the $27 million item from the federal budget on Thursday.

Without Mr. Carver at the helm, Mr. Istook is concerned that the money could be wasted and the agency could become another dysfunctional city bureaucracy filled with political cronies, a Hill staffer familiar with the funding bill said.

Mr. Istook and Mrs. Norton were not available for comment on the matter yesterday, when The Times first reported that Mrs. Norton had blocked Mr. Carver's nomination.

The Times also learned yesterday that Justice Department officials are dissatisfied with Mr. Carver, who was appointed by Attorney General Janet Reno in 1997 to merge three troubled city agencies.

A criminal justice official familiar with negotiations between the Justice Department and Mr. Carver said Mr. Carver was supposed to announce his resignation Friday "and fade into the sunset." But at the last moment, Mr. Carver decided to stay.

"He was not federal agency director caliber," said the official. "They were trying to gently nudge him out so he could save face."

The official said it was unfortunate that Mr. Carver's refusal to resign would affect the additional funding for the agency he helped create.

Mr. Carver said through a spokesman yesterday that he will remain trustee until the merged agencies become one federal department on Aug. 5.

"He plans to fulfill the terms of the trusteeship, and he's going to leave the nomination process up to the president," said Robert Murphy, Mr. Carver's spokesman.

Mr. Carver has run the agency as trustee since 1997, when parole, public defender and pretrial services were removed from the D.C. government as part of the city's Revitalization Act.

Criminal justice sources told The Times last week that Mrs. Norton blocked Mr. Carver's nomination because he wasn't properly deferential, a charge sharply denied by members of Mrs. Norton's staff yesterday.

They said that Mrs. Norton does not intend to block the nomination by President Clinton, but that she did have concerns Mr. Carver had converted 300 former D.C. employees into the federal system against the advice of the Office of Personnel Management.

A statement from Mrs. Norton's office says Mrs. Norton "Believed that [Mr.] Carver should take action to resolve disagreements with the Office of Personnel Management and come into compliance with federal law."

Documents obtained by The Washington Times show that Mr. Carver has had legal opinions from the Justice Department since November 1997 that say he could provide federal pay and benefits to employees because the agency was in the process of being converted to a federal agency.

But letters between Mr. Carver and OPM show that he and OPM had different interpretations of the Revitalization Act.

Mr. Carver, in a May 17 letter to Janice R. Lachance, OPM director, said converting the employees back to the D.C. system and then again to the federal system in August is "an absurd and inequitable" demand.

"[W]e are currently proceeding down a path which, if not changed, will bring embarrassment to the administration, undermine Revitalization Act goals and make a mockery of Vice President [Al] Gore's signature issue of government reform," The letter said. "It is not too late to reassess where we are going, but to do so requires your leadership."

In an undated, eight-page response, Ms. Lachance chastised Mr. Carver.

"You have had 17 months to carefully plan for the correction of your employees' retirement and insurance enrollment, to seek technical assistance from OPM, to counsel your employees and to finalize corrective actions," the letter says. "Needless to say, a desire to avoid administrative inconvenience does not justify violations of the law."

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