September 22, 2000
|MEMORANDUM FOR:||Mary Lou Leary
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs
|FROM:||Glenn A. Fine
Acting Inspector General
|SUBJECT:||Oversight of the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners Formula Grant Program, I-2000-022|
This final memorandum report presents information to assist the Corrections Program Office (CPO), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), strengthen its administration of the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners Formula Grant (RSAT) Program. The information is based on the Inspections Division, Office of the Inspector General (OIG), interviews with CPO managers, reviews of grant files maintained by the CPO and the OJP Office of the Comptroller (OC), and on-site reviews of six states that had been awarded federal RSAT funds. For each state, we evaluated whether the grantee was adhering to the CPO's program design and implementation guidance and complying with other administrative and financial requirements. Attachment I summarizes the major findings and recommendations for the six states reviewed.
RSAT Program Background
The RSAT Program, created by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, as amended (the Crime Act), provides formula grant funds to the states1 to develop or enhance residential substance (drug and alcohol) abuse treatment programs for adult and juvenile offenders in state and local correctional facilities.
Program Design and Implementation Guidance
According to the CPO's RSAT Program Guidance and Application Kit, the grant-funded residential substance abuse treatment programs must:
The RSAT Program encourages states to adopt comprehensive approaches to substance abuse treatment for offenders, including relapse prevention and aftercare services.2 In designing and implementing the RSAT Program, states must ensure coordination between correctional representatives and alcohol and drug abuse agencies at the state and, if appropriate, local levels. The states must also agree to implement or continue to require testing for drug and alcohol use by inmates in residential substance abuse treatment programs. Such testing includes inmates released from residential substance abuse treatment programs who remain in the custody of the state.
State Eligibility and Responsibilities
States could apply annually to the CPO for a formula grant award under the RSAT Program, which has been appropriated a total of $246,000,000 for fiscal year (FY) 1996 through FY 2000. Under the RSAT formula grant, each eligible state receives a base amount plus an allocation from the remaining funds equal to its proportional share of total prison population in all participating states.3 The recipients of the grant awards from the CPO are the state offices that administer the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Formula Grant Program. Using their own procedures, these state "Byrne" offices could award RSAT subgrants to state agencies and units of local government.
For the RSAT Program, each state office is responsible for preparing the application for formula grant funds and administering the awarded funds. Administration includes establishing funding priorities; receiving, accounting for, and disbursing funds; reviewing, awarding, monitoring, and evaluating subawards; preparing required reports; complying with audit requirements; and providing guidance and technical assistance to subgrantees. As part of their responsibilities for monitoring and fiscal oversight of subgrant projects, the state offices must establish regular progress and financial reporting requirements for subgrantees. These reports should be retained by the state office and made available for review during monitoring visits, inspections, or audits.
For the six states we reviewed, the state offices had established reporting requirements, performed or planned on-site visits, and maintained files on subgrantees. However, the reports from the subgrantees to the state offices varied in content quality, from a few generalized sentences about project activities to more substantive descriptions. We also found that the states' on-site visits to subgrantees were affected by travel distances, available travel funds, and competing work priorities. At the time of our reviews, one state office had not conducted any site visits to its subgrantees, four state offices had conducted site visits to a few of their subgrantees, and one state office had conducted several visits to each of its subgrantees. The state offices differed in the extent of documentation they captured on their visits. The visit summaries ranged from detailed (covering each major program, administrative, and financial requirement) to general (broad statements of overall compliance and progress).
The CPO administers the RSAT Program, which includes responsibility for developing grant program guidance and application procedures, receiving and reviewing grant applications, awarding grant funds, providing advice and technical assistance to grantees and subgrantees, and monitoring programmatic issues related to the grant program.4 The Crime Act established the RSAT Program as a formula grant; therefore, the CPO must award funds to the states in accordance with the Act's requirements. Under the formula RSAT Program, the CPO does not have flexibility in selecting the grantees, subgrantees, and allowable treatment projects. The state "Byrne" offices are the designated grantees that may solicit subgrantee applicants and determine the projects to fund.
For each year of the RSAT Program, the CPO issued a program guidance and application kit for the states. The CPO's kit provided the state offices with the legislative requirements, program requirements, and other administrative and financial requirements associated with federal grant administration, such as reports, assurances, and certifications. As necessary from year to year, the CPO revised information in the kit to clarify and improve the annual application process and modify implementation requirements for treatment projects. For example, beginning in the second year of the program, the CPO added information about the use of grant funds for aftercare, drug testing, and evaluations of grant-funded activities. The CPO also clarified the reporting requirements for the RSAT Program and expanded them to explicitly include the semi-annual progress reports.
The CPO is responsible for ensuring the grantees' applications are complete and that the proposed uses of the grant funds meet the requirements of the RSAT Program. For the six states we reviewed, the state offices had adhered to the CPO's application procedures and were awarded their portion of the grant funds based on the legislative formula. However, the grantees' applications did not always specify the projects that would receive RSAT funds. Rather, some applications simply expressed the states' need for grant funds to treat increasing numbers of inmates with substance abuse problems and indicated the funds would be used for allowable purposes. At the time of application, five of the six grantees had not completed their solicitation of project proposals from potential subgrantees and the subsequent selection of projects that met the RSAT Program requirements and made best use of the grant funds. Based on the legislative formula, the CPO awarded funds to the grantees while the grantees continued their own subaward processes. In these instances where projects were not initially identified in the applications, the CPO was dependent on the grantees' forthcoming RSAT Program reports to identify and describe the selected projects. In the interim, the CPO did not know how the grant funds would be used. During our reviews, we found that all six state offices had subawarded grant funds to state and local agencies for treatment projects that met the RSAT Program requirements.
Throughout the life of the RSAT Program, the CPO provides technical assistance and training on effective substance abuse treatment strategies and programs to assist states with implementation of their grant-funded treatment projects. The assistance is provided through national and regional workshops, as well as on-site technical assistance to address specific needs. The CPO publicizes the available assistance in its annual Technical Assistance Plan. All six states reviewed had attended selected CPO workshops. Only two states had requested and received on-site technical assistance. When queried, the states were satisfied with the workshops and the on-site assistance.
Monitoring of Grantees Should be Strengthened
The CPO monitors grantees' compliance with the requirements of the RSAT Program through periodic reports and on-site visits. The CPO should enhance its monitoring activities by obtaining more timely and definitive information about project funding and the progress of program implementation from grantees. The CPO should also improve the quality of its monitoring efforts by ensuring the results of its report reviews, on-site visits, and other interactions with grantees cover critical aspects of the RSAT Program and are well documented.
For the RSAT Program, the CPO requires grantees to submit:
The six grantees we reviewed did not consistently submit the required reports to OJP. During our reviews, the grant files maintained by the CPO and the OC did not contain all the grantees' reports for reporting periods that were past due.5 Two grantees' files were missing semi-annual progress reports and two files were missing individual project reports for grant-funded substance abuse treatment projects. Five grantees also did not submit individual project reports for using RSAT grant funds for grant administration purposes.
For the reports that were on file, their timeliness varied. For example, two grantees submitted late individual project reports, some up to six months after projects had been funded. Five grantees submitted their semi-annual progress reports from a few days to four months late. Two states submitted some financial status reports from a few days to two months late. Two other states submitted their first (March 1998) annual evaluation report from 15 days to five months after the due date.
In addition to untimely reports, we found that the information provided to the CPO by grantees in their semi-annual progress reports and individual project reports needs to be improved. Quality reports are vital to the CPO's monitoring efforts, especially for states that could not identify their RSAT-funded projects during the grant application process. For these states, the reports represent the only grantee-initiated documentation of their use of grant funds. However, some of the semi-annual progress reports were too vague or generalized to glean a substantive status of specific RSAT-funded projects. For example, the grantees' reports reiterated the RSAT Program requirements from the RSAT Program Guidance and Application Kit rather than identifying individual state program goals for residential drug treatment of prisoners and explaining the progress of each RSAT-funded project in contributing to those state goals. The semi-annual progress reports should also discuss changes to project activities, problems with project implementation, the corrective actions taken or planned, the impact on achieving program goals, and any technical assistance required. We found that the reports often did not contain sufficient information on project accomplishments or activities. Changes in projects selected for funding or expansion of projects through additional funding were not consistently reported to the CPO.
The grantees' individual project reports did not always contain data that was consistent with CPO's guidance and with information in other RSAT reports. Contrary to program guidance, three grantees grouped projects together and reported them as one project, when individual project reports should have been prepared for each project. Two grantees reported individual project data (such as the program capacity, treatment services, project start dates, and project budget) that was different from the data for similar data items in the semi-annual progress reports and the annual project-level evaluation reports. For projects that had been modified since first reported to the CPO or that had received funding for more than one fiscal year, grantees rarely updated the individual project reports. When some projects had more than one individual project report on file, the most current report was not always evident because the report form does not require the "date of preparation." Thus, the CPO was not aware of actual program capacity, program services, program funding, and other program activities-information that is important for assessing whether grant funds were being used effectively.
Some reporting problems may have occurred because of the grantees' need for additional guidance from the CPO. For example, the RSAT Program Guidance and Application Kit does not describe content expectations and provide a pre-designated format for the semi-annual progress report. For the individual project report, grantees were uncertain whether "program capacity" meant the "RSAT-funded" treatment beds in a program or "all" the beds available in a treatment program. Grantees also did not universally know that the use of grant funds for grant administration must be reported through an individual project report. The RSAT Program Guidance and Application Kit does not state this requirement.
The CPO should have discerned the grantees' reporting problems by comparing information contained in the grantees' applications and required reports. However, we saw little documentation in the grant files that CPO performed such reviews, questioned the contents of the reports, and sought more substantive or corrected information from the grantees. Without follow-up with the grantees, the reports alone do not readily provide the correct number of treatment programs funded, program capacity and services provided, and the progress of program implementation. Because of the grantees' uneven reporting practices, the CPO did not have important management information about the RSAT Program.
The CPO conducts periodic site visits to the states to determine the status of program implementation and compliance with the requirements of the RSAT Program.6 According to the CPO's RSAT Program Guidance and Application Kit, the state offices are responsible for monitoring the subgrantees. Therefore, the CPO generally limits the level of its site visits to the state offices, where the CPO reviews grant files to assess the adequacy of the state's oversight of subgrantees. The CPO may also visit correctional institutions to observe RSAT-funded substance abuse treatment programs. However, the CPO does not routinely visit subgrantees--the organizations that receive the grant funds to implement the RSAT Program--to review their records and verify the completeness and accuracy of the information they provide to the state offices. We found that the grant files maintained by the state offices did not consistently provide definitive information about subgrantee projects and financial management. Therefore, without visits to the subgrantees, the CPO did not obtain enough information of significant detail to determine the subgrantees' full range of compliance with the RSAT Program and actual use of grant funds.
The CPO had developed an RSAT On-Site Monitoring Checklist as a guide in completing its site visits to the state offices. The Checklist covers both administrative and programmatic topics, which are to be assessed through documentation contained in the grantee's files. The administrative topics include the grantee's adherence to OJP reporting requirements; maintenance of the state's drug free policy and implementation plan; maintenance of current OJP grant program and financial guidance; and adherence to approved administrative budgets, accounting procedures for grant funds, and state matching fund requirements. The Checklist's programmatic topics include the grantee's adherence to the program design and implementation requirements, individual project reporting, and contracting procedures; achievement of project goals and objectives; and requirements for technical assistance. After completion of the Checklist, the CPO expects its grant managers to prepare a narrative site visit summary that discusses the grantee's adherence to the grant requirements and progress in implementing RSAT-funded projects and resolving problems. The site visit summary should recommend any corrective actions needed. For the six states visited, we found no completed RSAT On-Site Monitoring Checklists and only one state's site visit summary in the CPO grant files. Correspondence in some of the grant files indicated that CPO visits had occurred. However, the grant managers' formal documentation of the results of the visits was not evident. Therefore, we could not determine whether the CPO made adequate use of the site visits as a monitoring tool and provided grantees with useful feedback on their implementation of and compliance with the RSAT Program.
Other Contact With Grantees
In addition to reports and periodic site visits, the CPO maintains contact with grantees through correspondence, electronic mail, and telephone conversations. During our interviews with CPO staff, they stated that documentation of these contacts was not routinely required; therefore the grant files would not necessarily present the entire scope of the monitoring activities performed by CPO grant managers. However, without such documentation, CPO grant managers and outside review teams cannot readily determine the status of a grantee's compliance with the RSAT Program, the problems and questions discussed between the CPO and the grantee, and any agreed-upon instructions.
Through vigilant monitoring, the CPO can improve grantees' compliance with the requirements of the RSAT Program. During our reviews, the CPO stated that they were considering ways to improve the format and guidance for reports. For example, the CPO was revising the individual project report to better reflect the programmatic requirements of the RSAT Program. The CPO was also developing an in-house automated database for tracking reports received and overdue. At the time of our reviews, the CPO had recently hired additional grant managers. With the increased number of personnel, the CPO plans a corresponding increase in the number of site visits.
The CPO should further improve its monitoring by ensuring reports are received on time, cover critical aspects of the RSAT Program, clearly delineate the grant projects and any project changes and progress, and are consistent (to include compatible data for similar data items) from one reporting period to the next or offer an explanation of the changes. The CPO should also ensure that site visits of grantees cover critical aspects of the RSAT Program and verify information provided in grantees' reports. As resources permit, on-site reviews of selected subgrantees should be included. Appropriate documentation of the CPO's report reviews, site visits, and other interactions with grantees and subgrantees is critical to the monitoring process and should be prepared and maintained by grant managers for internal and external use.
The Inspections Division recommends that the Acting Assistant Attorney General, OJP, ensure the CPO:
Responding to the Report
On July 24, 2000, we sent copies of the draft memorandum report to your office and requested written comments on the findings and recommendations. Your August 30, 2000, response is at Attachment II. Based on your comments, we consider Recommendations 1 and 2 resolved and closed. Therefore, this memorandum report is closed and no further action by your office is required. Attachment III summarizes our analysis of your comments.
As a matter of policy, OIG final inspection reports are considered public records and will be included on the DOJ/OIG Internet website. However, prior to making this information available on the Internet, we ask that you review this memorandum report and advise us, under separate cover, of any concerns you have relative to proprietary, confidential, or personal information that should not be released to the general public pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, the Trade Secrets Act, or any other applicable law or policy.
We appreciate the courtesies extended to the inspection team by the CPO and the OC. We hope the information contained in this memorandum report will be useful in your efforts to enhance the management of the RSAT Program. Please let me know if we can provide you with any additional information. I can be reached on (202) 616-4620.
Corrections Program Office
Office of Justice Programs
Vickie L. Sloan
to the USDOJ/OIG Home Page
Return to the Table of Contents