Two weeks after President Reagan announced his ambitious plans to escalate the war on drugs and organized crime, Justice Department and Office of Management and Budget officials are still fighting over where the money will come from and who will control it.
A major unresolved issue is how much money will be required for the current fiscal year. Back when the program was just a gleam in the eye of Associate Attorney General Rudolph W. Giuliani, Justice wanted an additional $200 million for fiscal 1983 to hire 1,200 new agents and prosecutors for 10 new big-city task forces.
At the White House, that turned into 12 regional task forces covering the whole country except Florida, whose task force was the model for it all. But when the number of task forces grew, neither the funds or employes grew with it -- they were just spread further.
And, worst of all for the Justice planners, the idea of new money, at least for fiscal 1983, vanished. Instead the funds were to come out of existing budgets, with the tricky stipulation that none could come from the Justice Department or other law enforcement activities.
Now, with Attorney General William French Smith away on his world drug tour, OMB officials have been arguing that only about $100 million will be needed for this fiscal year. They say the program can't get under way before January at the earliest, and it will start up slowly, thus limiting the need for funds.
OMB officials also are trying to take some of the money from Justice accounts, though only those not directly involved in law enforcement activities.
Two other task force participants, the Treasury Department and the Coast Guard, that had been reassured that their funds would not be cut, have also balked at OMB's insistence that they support their new roles from existing funds. Treasury, according to OMB officials, is arguing that it needs new money if it is going to participate.
The arguments will have to end soon, however. The White House has promised that a reprogramming measure will be sent to Congress on Nov. 29, the day members return for their post-election session.
Then there's the question of who is going to control the money this first year.
Giuliani always thought that Justice would control the money for the first year, even though at least 10 agencies might be involved in some of the task forces. Not all the agencies see it that way, however. They want to handle their own money, and thus keep control of their own personnel.
Another loose end in the president's program is a classic bureaucratic battle within Giuliani's own domain. Who is going to run the task forces' prosecutions, and how will they be melded with U.S. attorneys' offices and the organized-crime strike forces that are already in place?
The roots of most of these conflicts can be found in a Justice Department memo put together by Giuliani and sent to Smith last Aug. 5.
It forcefully made the argument that the Reagan administration has not made publicly. "A healthy percentage increase in the criminal justice budget would not even approach the yearly development cost of a single new weapons system. Surely," Giuliani declared, "we owe domestic defense the kind of strong commitment we have given to our national defense."
Giuliani drew the line between OMB Director David A. Stockman and himself: "We cannot turn the tide against crime while keeping law enforcement budgets at their current services levels. Simply put, we need additional resources . . . . "
The program has been approved, and announced by the president, but the budget fight remains unresolved.