Changes In ATF Resulting From The Signing Of
Two separate bureaus created
Washington, DC - On November
25, 2002, President Bush signed into law the Homeland Security Bill, which created
a new Cabinet-level agency by consolidating a number of existing agencies and
devoting them to making America safer and more secure.
The Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) was not included as a part of that new agency. The
Homeland Security Bill did, however, affect ATF directly, since part of the legislation
provided for a split of ATF into two separate bureaus.
By January 24, 2003 (60 days after the Homeland Security Bill became
law), one part of the existing ATF will be established in the Department
of Justice as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
(ATF). This new bureau will oversee firearms, explosives and arson programs.
The new Department of Justice bureau will also deal with the Federal criminal
laws concerning alcohol and tobacco smuggling and diversion.
On the same day, a corresponding entity will be created to handle
the regulatory and taxation aspects of the alcohol and tobacco industries. This
will be known as the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), and will remain within the Treasury
Department, where the current ATF and its predecessors have served honorably for
some two hundred years.
ATF wishes to assure the public and our partners
in law enforcement and the regulated industries that these moves have not been
The move of most of the existing ATF to the Justice
Department makes sense, in that it would partner ATF special agents and inspectors
with traditional law enforcement agencies. This, in turn, should work toward eliminating
duplication and giving a stronger unity of direction toward federal law enforcement
efforts. Similarly, revenue collection and regulation of the legitimate alcohol
and tobacco industries remains a perfect fit within the Treasury Department.
important, though, is ATF's commitment to continue to serve the public in all
these areas, and to do so with as little interruption as is possible. As ATF assembles
its management teams to facilitate the transfer of program functions to their
new homes, we recognize that we face some big changes in the future. We want to
make sure, though, that those changes will not create any immediate problems for
our industry and law enforcement partners.
Bradley Buckles, ATF's Director,
may have said it best when he told employees on November 25, "while the new
entities become official in 60 days, two physically separate and distinct units
will not magically appear on that date. Almost everyone will be sitting in front
of the same computer, behind the same desk, in the same office" on January
24. He added, "While rapidly moving to independent, self-sustaining structures
will remain a goal, it will not be pursued at the expense of unnecessary disruption
of employees or mission activities."