- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 6, 2002

The Justice Department has undertaken a modernization of its antitrust division that department officials say will create a structure to address new industries, network competition and other emerging trends in the economy.
Assistant Attorney General Charles A. James, who heads the department's antitrust division, said the program is designed to deploy division resources in a manner that responds to "an increasingly complex business environment" by redefining areas of responsibility and streamlining reporting lines to improve the overall efficiency of the division.
It also transforms certain task forces into full-fledged sections, Mr. James said.
"Currently, multiple sections tend to share enforcement responsibilities for certain commodities," he said. "The modernization plan is designed to concentrate investigatory and enforcement expertise and resources for commodities within a particular section, and minimize the dispersion of enforcement efforts across sections."
Mr. James said the modernization plan also assigns to each section enforcement responsibility for both civil merger and non-merger matters reflecting what he described as "the actual practice of most sections."
The modernization effort, he said, also recognizes the emergence and future importance of certain areas of the economy and the need for concentrated, focused expertise in these industries. These would include information technology, telecommunications and industries characterized by network competition.
Mr. James said the new plan will improve the division's ability to effectively marshal and deploy its resources and expertise in investigating and enforcing the antitrust laws in these as well as all other areas.
"The modernization is good government," he said. "It positions the antitrust division to address the challenges of the new economy in the 21st century while strengthening enforcement capability in traditional industries."
Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona said that while the restructuring effort in large measure confirms the antitrust division's present structure, it will result in some "significant organizational and programmatic changes."
Various litigation groups within the antitrust division will be renamed and reorganized to allow antitrust lawyers to maintain a Washington criminal enforcement presence with nationwide responsibility, to oversee a full range of civil enforcement responsibilities and to balance the merger workload while ensuring a continued focus on non-merger matters.
Also, Miss Talamona said the telecommunications task force will be expanded, the computers and finance section will be strengthened and the antitrust division will no longer have a separate health care task force.
She also said that each of the antitrust division's five deputy assistant attorneys general will have oversight of a specific major program area, including civil enforcement, regulatory matters, criminal enforcement, economic analysis and international enforcement.
"The modernization effort affords us the opportunity to clarify areas of responsibility, sharpen lines of reporting, increase accountability and ultimately improve efficiency and productivity in carrying out the division's mission," Mr. James said.
Both House and Senate appropriations subcommittees have authorized the modernization plan, which consistent with Justice Department policy required Office of Management and Budget and Congressional notification prior to implementation. The plan is expected to be fully implemented by February.


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