The Department of Justice logo (Carlo Allegri/REUTERS)

We’re hearing that Tracy Schmaler, head of the Justice Department’s public affairs shop for the last four years, is going private, joining ASGK Public Strategies, the firm co-founded by former White House senior adviser David Axelrod.

Schmaler will be managing director and head of a new operation in Washington focusing on crisis communications, litigation, regulatory, congressional and other matters.

Before signing up at Justice, she oversaw Yahoo’s global public affairs office here, and before that was communications director for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Her departure, expected sometime next month, will add to a growing number of vacancies in the top spots at the department.

Justice looks to have “acting” people in charge of the civil division, the criminal division (as of March 1), national security (when CIA nominee John Brennan gets confirmed and assistant attorney general Lisa Monaco moves over to replace him at the White House), the office of legislative policy, the associate attorney general (the third-ranking official), the office of justice programs and, in March or April, the environmental and natural resources shop.

That’s about half the number of top officials.