Administration of Department of Justice Grants Awarded to
Native American and Alaska Native Tribal Governments

Audit Report 05-18
March 2005
Office of the Inspector General


Findings and Recommendations


  1. EFFECTIVENESS OF GRANT MONITORING
  2. The COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are not effectively monitoring the tribal-specific grant programs. We found that only 4 percent of the 102 grant files reviewed contained on-site monitoring reports, only 12 percent contained office-based desk reviews, and none contained evidence that telephone monitoring was conducted. Officials in the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW stated that they rely on required financial and progress reports, which do not generally contain documentation supporting the information reported, to monitor tribal grantees. However, 81 percent of the grant files reviewed were missing one or more required financial reports and 80 percent were missing one or more required progress reports. Moreover, financial reports were not submitted in a timely manner for 97 percent of grants and progress reports were not submitted in a timely manner for 88 percent of the grants. Further, the COPS Office has only sporadically required progress reports for its grants and no progress reports have been required for grants awarded after FY 2001. We also found that, despite the fact that required financial and progress reports are not being submitted for certain grants, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW did not prohibit those grantees from drawing down funds totaling $10.69 million.

    Grant monitoring is an essential management tool to ensure that grant programs are implemented, objectives are achieved, and tribal grantees are properly expending funds. To this end, federal regulations require that grantees be monitored throughout the life of the grant to ensure that: 1) the grantee complies with the programmatic, administrative, and fiscal requirements of the relevant statutes, regulations, policies, and guidelines; 2) programs initiated by the grantee are carried out in a manner consistent with the relevant statutes, regulations, policies, and guidelines of the program; 3) the grantee is provided guidance on policies and procedures, grant program requirements, general federal regulations, and basic programmatic, administrative and financial reporting requirements; and 4) any problems that may impede the effective implementation of the program are identified and resolved.

    To assess the adequacy of monitoring related to tribal-specific grant programs, we judgmentally selected a sample of 102 grants totaling $82.74 million awarded to tribal governments. Our sample consisted of 59 COPS Office grants totaling $32.16 million, 34 OJP grants totaling $47.43 million, and 9 OVW grants totaling $3.15 million.16 For each grant selected, we reviewed the grant file(s) to determine whether the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW were monitoring grants awarded to tribal governments, and whether required financial and progress reports were submitted in a timely manner.

    Based on the results of our review, we determined that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are not effectively monitoring grants awarded to tribal governments. As a result, the DOJ has no assurances that the objectives of its tribal-specific grant programs are being met or that expenditures of grant funds are in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions of the grants. Specifically, we found that:

    • only 4 percent of the 102 grant files reviewed contained on-site monitoring reports, only 12 percent contained office-based desk reviews, and none contained evidence that telephone monitoring was conducted;

    • 81 percent of the grant files reviewed were missing one or more financial reports, and financial reports were not submitted in a timely manner for 97 percent of grants;

    • 80 percent of the grant files reviewed were missing one or more progress reports, and progress reports were not submitted in a timely manner for 88 percent of the grants;

    • the COPS Office has only sporadically required progress reports for its grants and no progress reports have been required for grants awarded after FY 2001; and

    • the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW allowed grantees to draw down funds totaling $10,689,765 during periods when required financial and progress reports had not been submitted.

    Formal Grant Monitoring

    Tribal-specific grant programs should be monitored through formal methods such as on-site monitoring and office-based desk reviews. Grant managers in the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are responsible for conducting on-site programmatic monitoring for their respective grants. On-site programmatic monitoring provides grant managers with the opportunity to observe and discuss with the grantee specific issues related to implementation plan progress, observe grant activities, and provide on-site technical assistance. The OJP Office of the Comptroller (OC) is responsible for conducting on-site financial monitoring reviews for the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW. The OC develops an annual monitoring plan for conducting on site financial reviews that takes into account risk-based factors such as new grantees, new grant programs, and discretionary grants of $1 million or more. In addition, the OJPís National Institute of Justice is responsible for conducting evaluations of the long-term impact that grant programs have on crime control and criminal justice issues.

    Office based desk reviews involve a review of the grant file in order to: 1) ensure that files are complete, 2) determine if the grantee is in compliance with the program guidelines, 3) determine if grant special conditions are being implemented and properly cleared, and 4) assess the progress of the program and identify any administrative or budgetary problems. Office based desk reviews often require grant managers to make direct contact with the grantee in order to obtain documentation to demonstrate whether the grantee is in compliance with grant requirements.

    The COPS Office has a monitoring division that is responsible for conducting on-site monitoring and office-based desk reviews. The COPS Office prioritizes monitoring using a three tiered system based on population served and grant funding received. Each year, the COPS Office Monitoring Division selects grantees for both on-site monitoring and office based desk reviews. Generally, only grantees servicing a population greater than 150,000 or receiving funding of $1 million or more are selected for on-site monitoring. Grantees that would not normally be selected for an on-site review may be selected for an office based desk review.

    The OJP and OVW require that grant managers conduct office based desk reviews for all grants at least quarterly. Further, OJP and OVW require grant managers to develop monitoring plans that includes on-site monitoring based on the assessed risk of the grantee. The timing and frequency of on site reviews is determined by each bureau or program office.

    For each of the 102 grants selected, we reviewed the grant file(s) to determine whether: 1) a monitoring plan was developed, 2) telephone monitoring contacts were documented, 3) office based desk reviews were conducted, and 4) on-site program monitoring visits were conducted. Based on the results of our review, we found that formal program and financial monitoring generally did not occur.17

    TABLE 3: FORMAL MONITORING ANALYSIS
     COPS OFFICEOJPOVW
    Percentage of grant files that contained
      monitoring plans
    N/A26%22%
    Percentage of grant files that contained
      on-site program monitoring reports
    2%6%11%
    Percentage of grant files that contained
      on-site financial monitoring reports
    5%6%11%
    Percentage of grant files that contained one
      office-based desk review report
    2%18%56%
    Percentage of grant files that contained
      evidence that office-based desk reviews
      were conducted quarterly
    N/A0%0%
    Percentage of grant files that contained
      evidence that telephone monitoring was
      conducted
    0%0%0%

    Source: COPS Office, OJP, and OVW grant files

    As shown in Table 3, most of the OJP and OVW grant files reviewed did not contain the required program monitoring plans, which should establish the type and timing of monitoring activities anticipated, including quarterly desk reviews or annual on-site monitoring visits. The COPS Office does not require monitoring plans for its grants. Although the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW grant managers stated that they made periodic telephone contacts with grantees to discuss grant activities and project status, we found no evidence of routine telephone contacts documented in the grant files. We also found that OJP and OVW grant managers did not conduct quarterly office-based desk reviews; however, the OVW had conducted at least one office-based desk review for 56 percent of the grants reviewed. Both program and financial on-site monitoring reviews were not conducted for the majority of grants reviewed.

    We discussed the lack of formal monitoring with grant managers from the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW. The COPS Office grant managers stated that formal program monitoring is conducted by the COPS Office Monitoring Division. Officials in the COPS Office Monitoring Division stated that they do not specifically target tribal grantees for on-site monitoring reviews. Grantees are generally selected for monitoring based on population, funding, and additional factors including the location of the grantee. COPS Office officials stated they will conduct site visits of multiple grantees within selected geographical areas, which generally would exclude tribal grantees because they are often located in remote locations.

    Officials from the OJP Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) stated that they are in the process of developing a risk assessment tool to select grantees for on-site visits. The risk assessment will include the amount of the award, compliance with grant requirements, and number of other OJP awards. Additionally, BJA officials are working on a formalized process that would require desk reviews of all grantees. Other OJP officials stated that only grantees with extreme problems are selected for site visits. OVW officials stated that they have not conducted any site visits since August 2002 because of high staff turnover.

    We also determined the number of office-based desk reviews and on site monitoring visits conducted by the COPS Office Monitoring Division for tribal grantees during FYs 2000 through 2003. We found that out of the 900 grants awarded during that period, the COPS Office had only conducted 4 office-based desk reviews and 35 on-site program monitoring visits. For the 35 on-site monitoring visits, 15 were conducted in FY 2000 and 19 in FY 2002. No on-site monitoring visits were conducted in FY 2001 and only one was conducted in FY 2003. Officials from the COPS Office Monitoring Division stated that on-site monitoring has decreased because of budgetary constraints.

    The limited on-site monitoring reviews are currently selected based on factors including the award amount, type of program, and population, rather than past performance and compliance. In our judgment, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW should conduct a risk assessment of each grantee based on past performance and compliance with grant requirements to determine the relative priority, timing, and frequency of office-based and on-site monitoring.

    In the absence of formal monitoring, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW officials stated that to monitor tribal grantees they rely on required financial and progress reports. However, the accuracy of financial and progress reports can only be assessed through on-site monitoring since grantees are not required to provide accounting records and other documentation supporting the information included in their reports. However, we found that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW did not ensure that these financial and progress reports were submitted or submitted in a timely manner.

    Financial Reports

    Pursuant to federal regulations, grantees must submit quarterly financial reports that include actual and cumulative expenditures, and unliquidated obligations for the reporting period (calendar quarter) for each grant. As stated previously, according to the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW, grantees are monitored primarily through these quarterly financial reports. However, our audit found that 81 percent of the grant files did not contain all required financial reports. In addition, financial reports were not submitted in a timely manner for 97 percent of the grants. We also found that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW generally did not follow up with grantees to request missing and late financial reports. In our judgment the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW cannot adequately monitor grantees if required financial reports are not submitted or are not submitted in a timely manner. As a result, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW do not have any assurances that tribal grant funds are being properly administered.

    For each of the 102 grants selected, we reviewed the grant file(s) to determine whether: 1) all required financial reports were submitted, 2) financial reports were submitted in a timely manner, and 3) the granting agency followed-up with grantees to request missing and late financial reports.18

    TABLE 4: FINANCIAL REPORT ANALYSIS
     COPS OFFICEOJPOVW
    Percentage of grant files missing one or
      more financial reports
    83%76%89%
    Percentage of grant files where one or
      more financial reports were not
      submitted in a timely manner
    97%100%89%
    Percentage of grant files that contained
      documentation requesting missing and
      late financial reports
    21%0%13%

    Source: COPS Office, OJP, and OVW grant files

    As shown in Table 4, more than 75 percent of the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW grants files reviewed were missing one or more financial reports and almost all grants had one or more reports that were not submitted in a timely manner.

    We discussed the issue of missing and late financial reports with COPS Office and OJP financial officials. COPS Office financial officials stated that they generate a delinquency report quarterly. If financial reports are not received, COPS Office officials stated that they make telephone contact with grantees to request the delinquent reports. In June 2003, the COPS Office stated that they started sending "dunning letters" to follow up with grantees that are delinquent. However, we found that the telephone contacts and "dunning letters" generally were not documented in the sample case files. OJP financial officials stated that there are controls in place to ensure that financial reports are received. For example, pursuant to OJP policy, grantees are prohibited from drawing down grant funds if required financial reports are not filed. However, based on our audit results, we found these controls do not appear to be working and that the policy to withhold funds has not been fully enforced.

    OJP financial officials stated that on the 46th day after the end of each quarter, its system automatically places a hold on grant drawdowns until the financial report is submitted. However, as discussed in Finding IV of this report, we determined that for 31 percent of the OJP grants and 25 percent of the OVW grants audited, grantees were able to draw down funds totaling $1,263,942 during periods for which a current financial report had not been submitted.

    Progress Reports

    According to federal regulations, grantees are required to submit periodic progress reports that provide information on grant activities and accomplishments during the reporting period. Unlike financial reporting requirements, the reporting period and due dates for progress reports are set by the granting agency. The OJP and OVW required semi-annual progress reports for the tribal-specific grant programs included in our audit. For most COPS Office grants, prior to the 2003 awards, the grant guidelines required that grantees submit progress reports for its grant programs annually. However, as shown in Table 5, we found that the reporting periods for the required "annual" reports generally covered more than 1 year. The required reports for the tribal-specific grant programs are shown in Table 5.

    TABLE 5: COPS OFFICE PROGRESS REPORTS REQUIREMENTS
     PROGRAMREPORTING PERIODNO. OF DAYS IN
    REPORTING PERIOD
    REPORT DUE
    DATE
    1999TRGP - Hiring
    TRGP - Hiring
    TRGP - Equipment
    9/1/99 - 12/31/00
    1/1/01 - 12/31/02
    9/1/99 - 12/31/00
    488
    730
    488
    6/29/01
    3/21/03
    6/29/01
    2000TRGP - Hiring
    TRGP - Equipment
    TMHCSI - Hiring
    TMHCSI - Equipment
    9/1/00 - 12/31/02
    9/1/00 - 12/31/02
    9/1/00 - 12/31/01
    9/1/00 - 12/31/01
    852
    852
    487
    487
    3/14/03
    3/14/03
    11/29/02
    11/29/02
    2001TRGP - Hiring
    TRGP - Equipment
    8/1/01 - 12/31/03
    8/1/01 - 12/31/03
    883
    883
    3/12/04
    3/12/04

    Source: COPS Office

    In our judgment, the COPS Office progress reporting requirements are not adequate for effectively monitoring grant activities. As shown in Table 5, the COPS Office has only required one progress report for the 2000 Tribal Resource Grant Program, 2000 Tribal Mental Health and Community Safety Initiative, and 2001 Tribal Resource Grant Program Hiring grants. No other progress reports have been required for these 3 year grant programs. Further, the required progress reports covered more than a 2 year period for the 2000 and 2001 Tribal Resource Grant Program Hiring and Equipment grants. As a result, in the absence of a grant extension, the 1 year 2000 and 2001 Tribal Resource Grant Program Equipment grants had expired long before the COPS Office received any information on grant activities and accomplishments necessary to determine whether grant programs were being implemented and objectives were being achieved.

    Further, the COPS Office changed its progress reporting criteria for most grants awarded after 2002 and now only requires periodic progress reports (to be defined by the COPS Office). Under this revised approach, the COPS Office has not yet required any progress reports for the tribal-specific grant programs shown on the following page.

    COPS OFFICE GRANTS FOR WHICH
    NO PROGRESS REPORTS HAVE BEEN REQUIRED

    • 2001 Mental Health and Community Safety Initiative - Hiring
    • 2001 Mental Health and Community Safety Initiative - Equipment
    • 2002 Tribal Resource Grant Program - Hiring
    • 2002 Tribal Resource Grant Program - Equipment
    • 2002 Mental Health and Community Safety Initiative - Hiring
    • 2002 Mental Health and Community Safety Initiative - Equipment
    • 2002 Tribal Hiring Renewal Grant Program
    • 2003 Tribal Hiring Renewal Grant Program
    • 2003 Tribal Resource Grant Program - Hiring
    • 2003 Tribal Resource Grant Program - Equipment

    In the absence of formal monitoring, COPS Office officials stated that they rely on periodic progress reports. However, it is not possible to rely on progress reports for monitoring purposes if the COPS Office does not require reports to be submitted. In our judgment, the COPS Office must require, at a minimum, annual progress reports for the 3-year hiring grants and semi annual progress reports for the 1 year equipment grants, which should be submitted within 30 days after the end of the reporting period.

    We discussed the changes to the progress report requirements with COPS Office officials. They stated that the changes were made to ease the reporting burden on both the tribal grantees and COPS Office grant managers. The COPS Office officials also stated that it is difficult enough to get grantees to fill out the currently required paperwork without adding more frequent progress reports. In our judgment, the COPS Office progress reporting requirements are inadequate for effectively monitoring grant activities. Especially, since in the absence of formal monitoring, the COPS Office officials stated that to monitor tribal grantees they rely on required progress reports.

    For each of the 102 grants selected, we reviewed the grant file(s) to determine whether: 1) all required progress reports were submitted, 2) progress reports were submitted in a timely manner, and 3) the granting agency followed-up with grantees to request missing and late progress reports, and 4) progress reports were annotated to document that the report was reviewed by the grant manager. Our audit found that 80 percent of the grant files did not contain all required progress reports and progress reports were not submitted in a timely manner for 88 percent of the grants. We also found that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW generally did not follow up with grantees to request missing and late progress reports, and that progress reports were not annotated to document that they were reviewed by the grant manager.

    TABLE 6: PROGRESS REPORTS ANALYSIS
     COPS OFFICEOJPOVW
    Percentage of grant files missing one or
      more progress reports
    62%1997%100%
    Percentage of grant files for which no
      progress reports have been required
    24%N/AN/A
    Percentage of grant files where one or more
      progress reports were not submitted in a
      timely manner
    76%100%100%
    Percentage of grant files that contained
      documentation requesting missing
      progress reports
    33%3%33%
    Percentage of grant files that contained
      documentation requesting late progress
      reports
    32%0%0%
    Percentage of grant files that contained
      evidence that the progress reports had
      been reviewed
    31%0%0%

    Source: COPS Office, OJP, and OVW grant files

    As shown in Table 6, most of the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW grant files reviewed were missing one or more required progress reports and almost all grants had one or more progress reports that were not submitted in a timely manner. Progress reports were not required for 24 percent of the COPS Office grant files we reviewed. COPS Office, OJP, and OVW officials stated that they follow up with grantees and request any missing progress reports. However, we found that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW generally did not document efforts to follow up with grantees on missing or late progress reports. Financial guidelines effective for reporting periods ending on or after June 30, 2002, require that grantees be prohibited from drawing down grant funds if required progress reports are not filed. However, although OJP program officials stated that they threaten to withhold funding if required progress reports are not submitted, they also stated that they do not prohibit grantees from drawing down funds, a position that contradicts their policy.

    Further, as shown in Table 6, less than a third of the COPS Office and none of the OJP and OVW grant files reviewed contained evidence that the progress reports submitted had been reviewed by the grant manager. COPS Office officials stated that they use a checklist to review progress reports for both equipment and hiring grants. However, we found no evidence in the grant files that the progress reports were reviewed for 69 percent of the grants reviewed. Additionally, some of the OJP and OVW grant managers stated that not all progress reports received are reviewed due to the heavy workload.

    As stated previously, OJPís system automatically places a hold on grant drawdowns until the most recent required financial report is submitted; however, OJP officials stated that there is no automatic hold on grant funds for grantees who fail to file required progress reports. As discussed in Finding IV of this report, grantees were able to draw down funds totaling $9,425,823 during periods for which a current progress report had not been submitted, $484,975 for COPS Office grants audited, $7,668,811 for OJP grants audited, and $1,272,037 for OVW grants audited. These figures do not include the 24 percent of COPS Office grants audited for which progress reports had not been required.

    Conclusion

    Grant monitoring is an essential management tool to ensure that grant programs are implemented appropriately, objectives are achieved, and tribal grantees are properly expending funds. However, only 4 percent of the 102 grant files we reviewed contained on-site monitoring reports, and only 12 percent contained office-based desk reviews. Additionally, none of the grant files contained evidence that telephone monitoring was conducted.

    In the absence of formal monitoring, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW monitor grantees primarily through required financial and progress reports. We found that the COPS Office has not routinely required progress reports for all of its grants and has not required any progress reports for grants awarded after FY 2001. For those COPS grants for which progress reports were required, we found a significant period of time during which the COPS Office did not have the information necessary to adequately monitor its tribal-specific grant programs.

    Additionally, our review of a sample of tribal specific grants revealed that the majority of grant files were missing one or more of the required financial and progress reports and almost all grants had one or more financial and progress reports that were not submitted in a timely manner. Nevertheless, we found that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW generally did not follow up with grantees to request missing reports. We also found that, despite the fact that required financial and progress reports are not being submitted, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW allowed grantees to draw down funds totaling $10,689,765 over the life of the grants.

    Based on the significance of the findings noted above, in our judgment the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are not effectively monitoring grants awarded to tribal governments. Therefore, the DOJ has no assurances that the objectives of its tribal-specific grant programs are being met or that expenditures of grant funds are in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions of the grants.

    Recommendations

    We recommend that the COPS Office:

    1. Ensure that monitoring plans are developed for each grantee that includes a risk assessment of each grantee based on past performance and compliance with grant requirements to determine the timing and frequency of office-based and on-site monitoring.

    2. Ensure that required financial and progress reports are submitted in a timely manner.

    3. Ensure that grant managers follow up with grantees if required financial and progress reports are not submitted or are not submitted in a timely manner.

    4. Ensure that grantees do not draw down grant funds if required progress reports are not filed.

    5. Ensure that periodic progress reports are required to be submitted at least annually for the 3-year hiring grants and semi-annually for the 1 year equipment grants. These reports should be due within a reasonable period of time after the end of the reporting period.

    We recommend that OJP:

    1. Ensure that monitoring plans are developed for each grantee that includes a risk assessment of each grantee based on past performance and compliance with grant requirements to determine the timing and frequency of office-based and on-site monitoring.

    2. Ensure that required financial and progress reports are submitted in a timely manner.

    3. Ensure that grant managers follow up with grantees if required financial and progress reports are not submitted or are not submitted in a timely manner.

    4. Ensure that grantees do not draw down grant funds if required financial or progress reports are not filed.

    We recommend that OVW:

    1. Ensure that monitoring plans are developed for each grantee that includes a risk assessment of each grantee based on past performance and compliance with grant requirements to determine the timing and frequency of office-based and on-site monitoring.

    2. Ensure that required financial and progress reports are submitted in a timely manner.

    3. Ensure that grant managers follow up with grantees if required financial and progress reports are not submitted or are not submitted in a timely manner.

    4. Ensure that grantees do not draw down grant funds if required financial or progress reports are not filed.

  3. UTILIZATION OF GRANT FUNDS
  4. We determined that OJP and OVW are not ensuring that funds for tribal-specific grant programs are made available to tribal grantees in a timely manner. Additionally, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are not monitoring the utilization of grant funds. We reviewed 1,535 tribal-specific grants, including 900 COPS Office grants, 495 OJP grants, and 140 OVW grants. We found that grant funds totaling $58.93 million were not obligated until more than 6 months after the beginning of the award period for 199 OJP and OVW grants. As a result, during this time grantees could not receive reimbursement for grant expenditures, which could result in significant delays in the implementation of grant programs. We also found that for the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW grants, no grant funds had been drawn down for 78 grants awarded prior to FY 2003, totaling $38.21 million. These amounts included 40 grants which had expired totaling $3 million. Grant funds were not drawn down for more than 1 year after funds were obligated for 281 grants totaling $105.75 million. Finally, for expired grants, grantees were allowed to draw down funds totaling $0.93 million that based on financial reports exceeded cumulative grant expenditures. As a result of the significant deficiencies identified, the DOJ cannot ensure that the grantees are properly utilizing grant funds and implementing grant programs in a timely manner.

    To ensure the effectiveness of the DOJ grant programs in meeting the criminal justice needs of tribal governments, it is essential that grant funding is both made available and utilized in a timely manner. To determine the effectiveness of the COPS Office, OJP, and OVWís administration of tribal specific grant programs, we reviewed grant obligations and drawdowns for all tribal-specific grants. We recognize that drawdowns are not the only definitive indicator of grant activity; however, in our judgment drawdowns are an important indicator of overall grantee progress toward achieving the grant objectives. Our review included 900 COPS Office grants totaling $165.47 million, 495 OJP grants totaling $204.09 million, and 140 OVW grants totaling $41.78 million. Based on the results of our review, we found that:

    • grant funds totaling $58,928,223 were not made available to grantees in a timely manner (i.e., within 6 months of the award start date);

    • for more than 2 years after the obligation date, grantees had not yet utilized $38,210,363, including $3,003,616 related to expired grants;

    • grantees were slow to utilize grant funds totaling $105,748,735 (i.e., more than 1 year after the funds were obligated);

    • grantees had not utilized available grant funds totaling $5,601,557 (i.e., more than 1 year prior to our review); and

    • for expired grants, grantees drew down funds in excess of cumulative grant expenditures, for which we are questioning $930,248.20

    Availability of Grant Funds

    For each tribal-specific grant, we obtained and reviewed the grant payment history to determine whether grant funds were made available (obligated) to the grantee in a timely manner. We found that the COPS Office generally obligated grant funds within 60 days of the award start date, the beginning of the grant period; however, OJP and OVW did not obligate grant funds totaling $58,928,223, more than 20 percent of total grant funds; within 6 months of the award start date.

    TABLE 7: OBLIGATION OF GRANT FUNDING (Dollars in Millions)
     COPS OFFICEOJPOVW
    NO. OF MONTHS TO
    OBLIGATE FUNDS
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    GRANT FUNDINGNO. OF
    GRANTS
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    < 2 Months863$160.64279$162.1431$3.87
    3 to 5 Months142.108812.45388.48
    6 to 11 Months232.7312127.84257.82
    12 to 23 Months----3614.71
    24 to 35 Months--71.67--
    > 36 Months----106.90
    TOTAL21900$165.47495$204.09140$41.78

    Source: COPS Office, OJP, and OVW listing of tribal-specific grants awarded and the grant payment histories

    As shown in Table 7, grant funds were obligated within 60 days for 863 of the 900 COPS Office grants (96 percent), which we consider timely. However, grant funds were not obligated until more than 6 months after the award start date for 128 OJP grants totaling $29,501,235 and 71 OVW grants totaling $29,426,988. As a result, during this time grantees could not receive reimbursement for grant expenditures, which could result in significant delays in the implementation of tribal-specific grant programs that provide essential criminal justice services in Indian Country.

    We discussed this issue with OJP financial officials to determine the amount of time it should take for grant funds to be obligated and possible reasons for the delays in obligating grant funds. The financial officials stated that it can take up to a year from the award start date until funds are obligated. The financial officials stated that delays in obligating grant funds could be caused by problems encountered in finalizing the grant budget. The financial officials further stated that delays in obligating grant funds can be caused by the granteesí failure to submit current financial and progress reports for prior grants. This statement is contradictory to financial guidelines which required that future grant awards be withheld if the grantee has not provided current financial and progress reports for all prior grants.

    In our judgment, OJP and OVW should ensure that grant funds are obligated in a timely manner to avoid delays in the implementation of grant programs in Indian Country. The OJP and OVW should consider withholding awards if the proposed grant budget requires significant adjustments, and withholding the award as required if the applicant is delinquent in reporting requirements on prior grants so that limited grant funds can be utilized by other tribal governments.

    Utilization of Grant Funds

    For each tribal-specific grant, we obtained and reviewed the grant payment history to determine whether: 1) grant funds had been drawn down, 2) the length of time between the date the grant funds were obligated and the date of the initial drawdown, and 3) the length of time between the date of the last drawdown and the date of our review. During our review of the grant drawdowns, we identified:

    • grants totaling $38,210,363 awarded more than 2 years prior to our review for which no funds had been drawn down, indicating that the grant program had not yet been implemented;

    • grants totaling $105,748,735 for which the initial drawdown occurred more than 1 year after the funds were obligated, indicating that the grantee may have encountered problems implementing the grant program; and

    • grants with available funds totaling $5,601,557 for which the last drawdown occurred more than 1 year prior to our review, indicating that the grantee may have encountered problems after the grant was initiated and that the grant program was not fully implemented.

    As detailed in the following sections, we found that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are not monitoring the utilization of grant funds awarded to tribal governments. Based on our review of grant drawdowns, we identified 78 tribal specific grants awarded prior to FY 2003, totaling $38,210,363, for which no grant funds had been drawn down.

    TABLE 8: INACTIVE GRANT ANALYSIS (Dollars in Millions)
     COPS OFFICEOJPOVW
    NO. OF MONTHS
    SINCE FUNDS
    OBLIGATED22
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    12 to 23 Months19$4.6017$10.543$0.15
    24 to 35 Months2111.26210.13--
    36 to 47 Months121.3630.13--
    > 48 Months--10.04--
    TOTAL52$17.2223$20.843$0.15

    Source: COPS Office, OJP, and OVW listing of tribal-specific grants awarded and the grant payment histories

    As shown in Table 8, we identified 52 COPS Office grants totaling $17,222,013, 23 OJP grants totaling $20,838,805, and 3 OVW grants totaling $149,545, for which no funds had been drawn down as of the date of our review. Generally, these grants were awarded between FYs 1999 through 2002, more than 2 years prior to our review. Further analysis of the 78 grants shown in Table 8 revealed that 29 COPS Office grants totaling $2,278,520, 9 OJP grants totaling $625,551, and 2 OVW grants totaling $99,545 had expired, indicating that the grant programs had not been implemented. Unused funds related to expired grants are detailed further in Finding III of this report.

    Failure to draw down grant funds is not a definitive indicator of grant activity since it is possible that funds have been expended but not yet drawn down as a reimbursement. To further analyze this condition, we selected a sample of 75 grants for which no grant funds had been drawn down, consisting of 41 COPS Office grants, 29 OJP grants, and 5 OVW grants. For each of the grants in our sample we obtained and reviewed financial reports to determine whether the grantees reported financial activity. We found that 61 percent of the COPS Office grants, 31 percent of the OJP grants, and 40 percent of the OVW grants reported no financial activity. Further, for those grants that did report financial activity, the amounts reported were generally minimal. For example, on average only 23 percent of the total award had been expended after more than 2 years since the funds were obligated, indicating that the grantee may have encountered problems implementing the grant program.

    As discussed in Finding IV of this report, we conducted audits of tribal grantees to determine whether costs charged to the grant programs were allowable and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions of the grants. For each grant included in our audit for which no funds had been drawn down, we interviewed grantee officials to determine whether the grant program had been implemented and the reasons for any delays in implementation. Based on these interviews, we determined that the majority of the grants audited had not yet been implemented. Tribal officials were frequently unable to provide a reason for the delay in implementing grant programs, citing turnover in tribal staff. However, some of the reasons cited for the delays in implementing the grant programs were:

    • delays in hiring positions awarded under the grant;

    • grant funds from prior grants awarded for the same program had not yet been fully utilized; and

    • grant funds were being withheld by the granting agency for failure to comply with the Single Audit Act or other requirements on prior grants.

    We also identified 281 grants totaling $105,748,735, for which the initial drawdown occurred more than 1 year after the funds were obligated, indicating that the grantee may have encountered problems implementing the grant program.

    TABLE 9: INITIAL DRAWDOWN ANALYSIS (Dollars in Millions)
     COPS OFFICEOJPOVW
    NO. OF MONTHS
    SINCE FUNDS
    OBLIGATED
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    12 to 23 Months157$26.2259$64.856$0.87
    24 to 35 Months365.24106.7910.36
    36 to 47 Months60.3620.2520.54
    > 48 Months10.07--10.19
    TOTAL23200$31.9071$71.8910$1.96

    Source: COPS Office, OJP, and OVW listing of tribal-specific grants awarded and the grant payment histories

    As shown in Table 9, we identified 200 COPS Office grants totaling $31,899,822, 71 OJP grants totaling $71,887,908, and 10 OVW grants totaling $1,961,005, for which the initial drawdown did not occur for over 1 year after the funds were obligated. Generally, these grants were awarded between FYs 1999 through 2002, indicating the grantee encountered problems implementing the grant program.

    Finally, we identified 171 grants, with remaining grant funds totaling $5,601,557, for which the last drawdown occurred more than 1 year prior to our review, indicating that the grantee encountered problems after the grant was initiated and that the grant program was not fully implemented.

    TABLE 10: LAST DRAWDOWN ANALYSIS (Dollars in Millions)
     COPS OFFICEOJPOVW
    NO. OF MONTHS
    SINCE LAST
    DRAWDOWN
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    REMAINING
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    REMAINING
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    REMAINING
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    12 to 23 Months68$1.9719$1.11--
    24 to 35 Months480.76100.475$0.30
    36 to 47 Months100.0750.1350.75
    > 48 Months----10.05
    TOTAL24126$2.8034$1.7111$1.09

    Source: COPS Office, OJP,and OVW listing of tribal-specific grants awarded and the grant payment histories

    As shown in Table 10, we identified 126 COPS Office grants with remaining grant funds totaling $2,800,735, 34 OJP grants with remaining grant funds totaling $1,706,726, and 11 OVW grants with remaining grant funds totaling $1,094,096 for which the last drawdown occurred more than 1 year prior to our review. Additionally, based on further analysis of these grants, we determined that 112 COPS Office grants, 28 OJP grants, and 8 OVW grants had expired, indicating that the grant program was not fully implemented. Unused funds related to expired grants are detailed further in Finding III of this report.

    Overall, we identified:

    • grants totaling $38,210,363 for which no funds had been drawn down, indicating that the grant program had not been implemented;

    • grants totaling $105,748,735 for which the initial drawdown occurred more than 1 year after the funds were obligated, indicating that the grantee may have encountered problems implementing the grant program; and

    • grants with available funds totaling $5,601,557 for which the last drawdown occurred more than 1 year prior to our review, indicating that the grantee encountered problems after the grant was initiated and that the grant program was not fully implemented.

    We discussed these issues with officials from the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW and found that grant managers do not routinely monitor grant drawdowns for indications that the grant programs have not yet been implemented or implemented fully. In our judgment, failure to draw down grant funds is an indication that the grantee is experiencing difficulties in implementing the grant program. Therefore, grant managers should be required to monitor grant drawdowns and follow up with grantees to identify and resolve any problems. Further, if it is determined that the grantee cannot or will not implement the grant program in a timely manner, grant funds should be deobligated and made available to other grant recipients.

    Drawdowns in Excess of Cumulative Grant Expenditures

    Financial guidelines require that grantee drawdowns should be based on immediate disbursement requirements. Grantees are required to time the drawdown requests to ensure that federal cash on hand is the minimum needed for grant disbursements to be made immediately or within a few days. As a part of our review of grant drawdowns, we selected a sample of grants to determine whether grantees were drawing down funds in excess of grant expenditures. For each grant in our sample, we obtained the most recent financial report submitted and compared reported grant expenditures to grant drawdowns to identify if grantees had drawn down grant funds in excess of expenditures. Our sample included 116 COPS Office grants totaling $23.04 million, 81 OJP grants totaling $35.57 million, and 29 OVW grants totaling $6.22 million. Based on our review, we found that grantees were allowed to draw down funds in excess of reported cumulative grant expenditures. This could be an indication that rather than using grant funds to provide essential criminal justice services, grantees may be using grant funds for other purposes. For expired grants, we identified questioned costs totaling $930,248 for which drawdowns exceeded reported cumulative grant expenditures. Specifically, for expired grants we identified:

    • excess grant funds totaling $713,567 were drawn down by 18 COPS Office grantees,

    • excess grant funds totaling $145,818 were drawn down by 9 OJP grantees, and

    • excess grant funds totaling $70,863 were drawn down by 2 OVW grantees.

    The expired grants for which we are questioning costs totaling $930,248 related to excess drawdowns are detailed in Appendices IX through XI.

    Conclusion

    Overall, we identified grant funds totaling $58,928,223 that were not obligated until more than 6 months after the beginning of the award period (award start date). Some of the reasons cited for the delays in obligating grant funds included problems encountered in finalizing the grant budgets and failure of grantees to provide current financial and progress reports.

    We also determined that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW do not systematically monitor grant drawdowns to determine whether grant funds are utilized and grant programs are being implemented. Our review of grant drawdowns for the tribal-specific grants identified: 1) grant funds totaling $38,210,363 which had not been drawn down; 2) grant funds totaling $105,748,735 for which the initial drawdown occurred more than 1 year after the grant funds were obligated; and 3) grants with available funds totaling $5,601,557 for which the last drawdown occurred more than 1 year prior to our review. Each of our findings related to grant drawdowns are an indication that the grantee may have encountered problems in implementing the grant programs or that the grant programs were not fully implemented.

    Finally, for expired grants tribal grantees were allowed to draw down funds totaling $930,248 that exceeded cumulative grant expenditures as listed on grantee financial reports; as a result, we are questioning this amount.

    In sum, OJP and OVW are not ensuring that funds for tribal-specific grant programs are made available to tribal grantees in a timely manner. Additionally, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are not monitoring the utilization of grant funds. If grant funds are not obligated in a timely manner, tribal governments may encounter delays in providing essential criminal justice services. Further, failure to utilize grant funds in a timely manner may be an indication that the grant programs are not meeting the criminal justice needs of tribal governments.

    Recommendations

    We recommend that the COPS Office:

    1. Ensure that grant drawdowns are monitored to determine if grant funds are being utilized in a timely manner.

    2. Follow up with grantees that have not drawn down any grant funds to determine whether the grantees have encountered difficulties in implementing the grant program, and provide assistance as necessary.

    3. Ensure that grant funds are deobligated and the grants are closed if grantees are unable or unwilling to implement grant programs in a timely manner.

    4. Ensure that grantees are not allowed to draw down grant funds in excess of reported cumulative grant expenditures.

    5. Remedy the $713,567 in questioned costs related to excess drawdowns on expired grants.

    We recommend that OJP:

    1. Ensure that grant funds are obligated in a timely manner.

    2. Withhold grant awards if the applicant is delinquent in complying with prior grant requirements.

    3. Establish procedures to ensure that adjustments to the grant application budget are completed timely, including revoking grant awards if the applicant is delinquent in complying with budget revision requests.

    4. Ensure that grant drawdowns are monitored to determine if grant funds are being utilized in a timely manner.

    5. Follow up with grantees that have not drawn down any grant funds to determine whether the grantees have encountered difficulties in implementing the grant program, and provide assistance as necessary.

    6. Ensure that grant funds are deobligated and the grants are closed if grantees are unable or unwilling to implement grant programs in a timely manner.

    7. Ensure that grantees are not allowed to draw down grant funds in excess of reported cumulative grant expenditures.

    8. Remedy the $145,818 in questioned costs related to excess drawdowns on expired grants.

    We recommend that OVW:

    1. Ensure that grant funds are obligated in a timely manner.

    2. Withhold grant awards if the applicant is delinquent in complying with prior grant requirements.

    3. Establish procedures to ensure that adjustments to the grant application budget are completed timely, including revoking grant awards if the applicant is delinquent in complying with budget revision requests.

    4. Ensure that grant drawdowns are monitored to determine if grant funds are being utilized in a timely manner.

    5. Follow up with grantees that have not drawn down any grant funds to determine whether the grantees have encountered difficulties in implementing the grant program, and provide assistance as necessary.

    6. Ensure that grant funds are deobligated and the grants are closed if grantees are unable or unwilling to implement grant programs in a timely manner.

    7. Ensure that grantees are not allowed to draw down grant funds in excess of reported cumulative grant expenditures.

    8. Remedy the $70,863 in questioned costs related to excess drawdowns on expired grants.

  5. GRANT CLOSEOUT
  6. The COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are not closing out expired grants, and the small percentage of grants that have been closed were generally not closed in a timely manner, resulting in questioned costs of $6.06 million and funds put to better use of $10.95 million.25 We reviewed 758 expired tribal-specific grants and found that only 149 grants (20 percent) had been closed. For the 149 closed grants, only 32 grants (21 percent) were closed in a timely manner (within 180 days after the grant expired). The closed grants included COPS Office and OVW grants with remaining funds totaling $207.25 thousand that should have been deobligated and put to better use. We also identified 460 expired grants more than 180 days past the end of the award period (grant end date) that had not been closed, of which 112 had been expired for more than 2 years. Further, we identified questioned costs totaling $6.06 million related to drawdowns that occurred on expired grants more than 90 days past the grant end date and funds put to better use totaling $10.75 million associated with expired grants more than 90 days past the grant end date.

    An important aspect of grant monitoring and administration is timely and proper grant closeout. As a part of the closeout process, grant managers are required to ensure that grant objectives have been achieved. Therefore, timely grant closeout is essential to determine whether grant programs are effectively meeting the criminal justice needs of tribal governments. According to federal regulations, official closeout of a grant should occur when the awarding agency determines that the grantee has completed all applicable administrative actions and work required under the grant.26 Grants should be closed out when the grant has expired (reached the award end date) and all open administrative, compliance, legal, and audit issues have been resolved. An awarding agency may choose to close a grant administratively if the grantee fails to provide the required documents, is no longer a valid operating entity, is nonresponsive, or fails to cooperate during the closeout process.

    Additionally, OJP and OVW policy requires that grants should be closed within 180 days after the award end date. The COPS Office does not have a specific timeframe in which expired grants should be closed. In our judgment, 180 days after the award end date is a reasonable timeframe for closing out expired grants.

    To determine the effectiveness of the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW closeout process for tribal-specific grant programs, we reviewed all 758 expired tribal-specific grants. Our review included 507 COPS Office grants totaling $62.08 million, 177 OJP grants totaling $51.11 million, and 74 OVW grants totaling $19.58 million. Based on the results of our review, we found that:

    • only 149 grants (20 percent) had been closed, including the COPS Office and OVW grants with remaining funds totaling $207,249 that should have been deobligated and put to better use;

    • of the 149 closed grants, only 32 grants (21 percent) were closed in a timely manner (within 180 days after the grant expired);

    • despite the fact that financial guidelines require that grant funds must be drawn down within 90 days after the end of the grant period, grantees were allowed to draw down grant funds totaling $6,063,471 more than 90 days after the grant end date; and

    • unused grant funds for expired grants totaling $10,745,048, which should have reverted back to the granting agency pursuant to financial guidelines, had not been deobligated.

    Grant Closeout

    We analyzed all 758 expired tribal-specific grants to determine whether they were properly closed. Based on the results of our audit, we found that 337 COPS Office grants, 91 OJP grants, and 32 OVW grants had not been closed. Overall, only 15 percent of expired COPS Office grants, 29 percent of expired OJP grants, and 27 percent of expired OVW grants had been closed. We determined that the COPS Office and OVW failed to deobligate remaining grant funds totaling $207,249 prior to closing the grants.

    TABLE 11: CLOSED GRANT ANALYSIS
     COPS OFFICEOJPOVW
    NO. OF MONTHS TO
    GRANT CLOSEOUT
    NO. OF GRANTSNO. OF GRANTSNO. OF GRANTS
    < 6 Months16115
    6 to 11 Months4206
    12 to 23 Months30156
    24 to 35 Months2753
    > 36 Months1--
    TOTAL27785120

    Source: COPS Office, OJP, and OVW listing of tribal-specific grants awarded and the grant payment histories

    As shown in Table 11, only 16 COPS Office grants, 11 OJP grants, and 5 OVW grants were closed within 180 days after the grant expired. We identified 28 COPS Office grants, 5 OJP grants, and 3 OVW grants that were not closed until more than 2 years after the grant expired. Further, we identified 8 COPS Office grants with funds totaling $200,380 and 1 OVW grant with funds totaling $6,869 that should have been deobligated and put to better use prior to closing the grants. The closed COPS Office and OVW grants for which funds totaling $207,249 should be deobligated and put to better use are detailed in Appendices XII and XIII.

    We also analyzed all remaining expired tribal specific grants that had not been closed to determine the number of these grants that were more than 180 days past the grant end date. Our review disclosed that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW failed to close 460 expired tribal specific grants that were more than 180 days past the grant end date.

    TABLE 12: EXPIRED GRANTS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN CLOSED
     COPS OFFICEOJPOVW
    NO. OF MONTHSNO. OF GRANTSNO. OF GRANTSNO. OF GRANTS
    6 to 11 Months1345515
    12 to 23 Months1191411
    24 to 35 Months66226
    > 36 Months18--
    TOTAL3379132

    Source: COPS Office, OJP, and OVW listings of tribal-specific grants awarded and closed grants

    As shown in Table 12, we identified a total of 337 COPS Office grants, 91 OJP grants, and 32 OVW grants that had not been closed, despite the fact that the grants were more than 180 days past the grant end date. Further, 84 COPS Office grants, 22 OJP grants, and 6 OVW grants have been expired more than 2 years but had not been closed.

    As a part of the grant closeout, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are required to ensure that grant objectives and special conditions have been met. Based on the results of our review, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are not closing out grants or are not closing grants in a timely manner. As a result, the granting agencies cannot determine whether grant programs are effectively meeting the criminal justice needs of tribal governments.

    Analysis of Drawdowns on Expired Grants

    According to policy, grant funds must be drawn down within 90 days after the end of the grant period, and any funds not drawn down within the required timeframe will lapse and revert to the awarding agency. However, we found that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW allowed grantees to draw down funds totaling $6,063,471 from 188 expired grants more than 90 days past the grant end date. This funding should have reverted back to the awarding agency and made available for other purposes.

    TABLE 13: DRAWDOWNS OCCURRING 90 DAYS PAST THE GRANT
    END DATE
    (Dollars in Millions)
     COPS OFFICEOJPOVW
    NO. OF MONTHS
    PAST END DATE
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    AMOUNT
    DRAWN
    DOWN
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    AMOUNT
    DRAWN
    DOWN
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    AMOUNT
    DRAWN
    DOWN
    3 to 11 Months94$2.2839$2.20200.51
    12 to 23 Months190.5740.1130.17
    > 24 Months90.23----
    TOTAL122$3.0843$2.3123$.068

    Source: COPS Office, OJP, and OVW listing of tribal-specific grants awarded and the grant payment histories

    As shown in Table 13, we determined that:

    • For 122 tribal-specific grants, the COPS Office allowed grantees to make 174 drawdowns totaling $3,077,157 more than 90 days past the grant end date; as a result, we are questioning this amount. It should be noted that 57 drawdowns totaling $792,951 occurred more than 1 year after the grant expired. The expired COPS Office grants for which we are questioning costs related to drawdowns occurring more than 90 days after the grant end date are detailed in Appendix XIV.

    • For 43 tribal-specific grants, OJP allowed grantees to make 73 drawdowns totaling $2,305,298 more than 90 days past the grant end date; as a result, we are questioning this amount. It should be noted that 9 drawdowns totaling $105,872 occurred more than 1 year after the grant expired. The expired OJP grants for which we are questioning costs related to drawdowns occurring more than 90 days after the grant end date are detailed in Appendix XV.

    • For 23 tribal-specific grants, OVW allowed grantees to make 32 drawdowns totaling $681,016 more than 90 days past the grant end date; as a result, we are questioning this amount. It should be noted that 3 drawdowns totaling $166,641 occurred more than 1 year after the grant expired. The expired OVW grants for which we are questioning costs related to drawdowns occurring more than 90 days after the grant end date are detailed in Appendix XVI.

    Additionally, for expired tribal-specific grants we identified a significant amount of unused grant funds that had not been drawn down within 90 days after the grant end date. Pursuant to DOJ policy, these funds should have reverted back to the awarding agency and made available for other purposes.

    TABLE 14: GRANT FUNDS REMAINING FOR EXPIRED GRANTS
    90 DAYS PAST THE GRANT END DATE
    (Dollars in Millions)
     COPS OFFICEOJPOVW
    NO. OF MONTHS
    PAST END DATE
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    REMAINING
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    REMAINING
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    NO. OF
    GRANTS
    REMAINING
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    3 to 11 Months121$4.6548$2.2821$1.04
    12 to 23 Months641.37120.4360.09
    24 to 35 Months240.34150.3030.12
    > 36 Months80.13----
    TOTAL217$6.4975$3.0130$1.25

    Source: COPS Office, OJP, and OVW listing of tribal-specific grants awarded and the grant payment histories

    As shown in Table 14, we identified a total of 322 grants that were 90 days past the grant end date with total funds remaining of $10,745,048, which had not been deobligated and put to better use. This is also an indication that tribal-specific grant programs in Indian Country may not have been fully implemented. Specifically, we identified:

    • 217 COPS Office grants 90 days past the grant end date with remaining grant funds totaling $6,487,356; as a result, these funds should be deobligated and put to better use. The expired COPS Office grants for which funds should be deobligated are detailed in Appendix XVII.

    • 75 OJP grants 90 days past the grant end date with remaining grant funds totaling $3,006,770; as a result, these funds should be deobligated and put to better use. The expired OJP grants for which funds should be deobligated are detailed in Appendix XVIII.

    • 30 OVW grants 90 days past the grant end date with remaining grant funds totaling $1,250,922; as a result, these funds should be deobligated and put to better use. The expired OVW grants for which funds should be deobligated are detailed in Appendix XIX.

    Further, of these amounts, 32 COPS Office grants with funds remaining of $465,255, 15 OJP grants with funds remaining of $296,549, and 3 OVW grants with funds remaining of $116,614 have been expired more than 2 years. We discussed this issue with OJP financial officials, who stated that tribal grantees are allowed to draw down grant funds for expenditures incurred during the grant period until the grant is fiscally and programmatically closed, a position that is contrary to their own financial guidelines. The COPS Office financial officials stated that grants with unused funds are not identified until the closeout process has begun; therefore, prior to closeout, grantees may be drawing down funds more than 90 days after the grant end date. However, as stated in previous sections of this report, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are not closing out grants in a timely manner.

    As stated in Finding II, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW should monitor grant drawdowns to ensure that grant programs are fully implemented. In our judgment, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW should also review grant drawdowns prior to the end of the grant period to determine if all grant funds have been drawn down. The COPS Office, OJP, and OVW should follow up on any grants with remaining funds to determine if the grantee has expended or plans to expend remaining funds prior to the end of the award period. Based on the results, of our review, the failure of the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW to monitor grant drawdowns has resulted in $6,063,471 in questioned costs and $10,745,048 in funds put to better use, which should have been used by tribal governments to improve criminal justice services.

    Conclusion

    An important aspect of grant monitoring and administration is timely and proper grant closeout. As a part of the closeout process, grant managers are required to ensure that grant objectives have been achieved. Therefore, timely grant closeout is essential to determine whether grant programs are effectively meeting the criminal justice needs of tribal governments. We found that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are not closing out grants or are not closing grants in a timely manner.

    We found that out of the 758 expired tribal-specific grants, only 149 grants had been closed, including COPS Office and OVW grants with remaining funds totaling $207,249 that should have been deobligated and put to better use prior to closeout. We also identified 460 grants more than 180 days past the grant end date that had not been closed.

    Further, we identified questioned costs totaling $6,063,471 related to tribal grantees that were allowed to make 279 drawdowns more than 90 days past the grant end date. We also identified funds put to better use totaling $10,745,048 associated with unused funds for 322 expired grants that were more than 90 days past the grant end date.

    Recommendations

    We recommend that the COPS Office:

    1. Ensure that expired grants are closed in a timely manner and that remaining grant funds are deobligated prior to closing grants.

    2. Deobligate and put to better use the $200,380 in remaining funds related to grants that have been closed.

    3. Review grant drawdowns prior to the end of the grant period to determine if all grant funds have been drawn down, and follow up on any grants with remaining funds to determine if the grantee has expended or plans to expend remaining funds prior to the grant end date.

    4. Ensure that grantees are not allowed to draw down funds more than 90 days after the grant end date and that all funds remaining on grants that have been expired for more than 90 days are deobligated.

    5. Remedy the $3,077,157 in questioned costs related to drawdowns occurring more than 90 days past the grant end date.

    6. Deobligate and put to better use the $6,487,356 in remaining funds related to expired grants that are more than 90 days past the grant end date.

    We recommend that OJP:

    1. Ensure that expired grants are closed in a timely manner.

    2. Review grant drawdowns prior to the end of the grant period to determine if all grant funds have been drawn down, and follow up on any grants with remaining funds to determine if the grantee has expended or plans to expend remaining funds prior to the grant end date.

    3. Ensure that grantees are not allowed to draw down funds more than 90 days after the grant end date and that all funds remaining on grants that have been expired for more than 90 days are deobligated.

    4. Remedy the $2,305,298 in questioned costs related to drawdowns occurring more than 90 days past the grant end date.

    5. Deobligate and put to better use the $3,006,770 in remaining funds related to expired grants that are more than 90 days past the grant end date.

    We recommend that OVW:

    1. Ensure that expired grants are closed in a timely manner and that remaining grant funds are deobligated prior to closing grants.

    2. Deobligate and put to better use the $6,869 in remaining funds related to grants which have been closed.

    3. Review grant drawdowns prior to the end of the grant period to determine if all grant funds have been drawn down, and follow up on any grants with remaining funds to determine if the grantee has expended or plans to expend remaining funds prior to the grant end date.

    4. Ensure that grantees are not allowed to draw down funds more than 90 days after the grant end date and that all funds remaining on grants that have been expired for more than 90 days are deobligated.

    5. Remedy the $681,016 in questioned costs related to drawdowns occurring more than 90 days past the grant end date.

    6. Deobligate and put to better use the $1,250,922 in remaining funds related to expired grants that are more than 90 days past the grant end date.

    ALLOWABILITY OF COSTS CHARGED TO TRIBAL-SPECIFIC GRANT PROGRAMS

    We conducted audits of tribal-specific grants, including a total of 41 COPS Office grants totaling $16.80 million, 21 OJP grants totaling $36.64 million, and 6 OVW grants totaling $3.69 million. Based on the results of the individual grant audits, we found that unallowable and unsupported costs totaling $4.57 million were charged to the grants. Further, we identified funds put to better use totaling $0.97 million related grant funds that will not or should not be used. As a result, these costs were not used to meet the criminal justice needs funded under the grant program. We also found that essential grant requirements were not met. The frequency and magnitude of issues identified in our individual grant audits indicate that critical grant requirements are not being met. These findings indicate that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are not adequately monitoring the tribal-specific grant programs, resulting in significant numbers of tribal grantees that are not administering their grant(s) in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions of the grant(s).

    After the grant award has been accepted, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are responsible for managing and administering the programmatic and financial aspects of the award. As stated in the Background section of this report, from FYs 1998 through 2003 the OIG performed individual audits of 14 COPS Office grants and 13 OJP grants awarded to tribal governments.28 For the 27 prior grant audits, the OIG identified $4.19 million in questioned costs and $3.04 million in funds put to better use.29 Specifically, the prior audits disclosed that:

    • Unallowable costs were charged to the COPS Office grants by 43 percent of the COPS Office grantees and 77 percent of OJP grantees audited. Additionally, unsupported costs were charged to the grants by 21 percent of the COPS Office grantees and 31 percent of the OJP grantees audited.

    • Financial reports were not submitted or submitted in a timely manner by 79 percent of the COPS Office grantees and 54 percent of OJP grantees audited. Further, financial reports were inaccurate for 36 percent of the COPS Office grantees and 23 percent of OJP grantees audited.

    • Progress reports were not submitted or were not submitted in a timely manner by 57 percent of the COPS Office grantees and 69 percent of OJP grantees audited. Further, progress reports were inaccurate for 21 percent of the COPS Office grantees audited.

    • There was no formal plan to retain grant funded positions for 36 percent of COPS Office grantees audited, while grant funded positions were not retained for 14 percent of the COPS Office grantees.

    • Grant funds were used to supplant local funds by 29 percent of the COPS Office grantees audited.

    • Grant activities were not implemented in a timely manner by 7 percent of the COPS Office grantees audited. Additionally, grant activities were not implemented or fully implemented by 8 percent of the OJP grantees audited.

    • The COPS Office failed to deobligate remaining grant funds for expired grants for 7 percent of the grantees audited.

    • Grant funds were drawn down after the expiration of the grant for 7 percent of the COPS Office grantees audited.

    • Reimbursements in excess of grant expenditures were received by 8 percent of OJP grantees audited.

    The results of these prior audits indicate that the COPS Office and OJP are not effectively managing the DOJís grant programs for tribal governments.30 Therefore, as a part of our audit, we conducted additional audits of selected COPS Office, OJP, and OVW tribal grantees to determine whether costs charged to the grant programs are allowable and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions of the grants.

    We selected a total of 41 COPS Office grants totaling $16.80 million, 21 OJP grants totaling $36.64 million, and 6 OVW grants totaling $3.69 million. Eighteen separate audit reports were issued for the grantees and grants selected.

    The individual grantee audits disclosed costs charged to the grant programs that were not allowable and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions of the grants. Additionally, the individual grantee audits disclosed that grantees were not always in compliance with grant conditions and reporting requirements. Specifically, these audits disclosed that:

    • Unallowable and unsupported costs were charged to the grants.

    • Grant funds in excess of grant expenditures were drawn down.

    • Financial and progress reports were missing, late, and inaccurate.

    • Drawdowns occurred after the grant end date.

    • Grants funds awarded were not used.

    Dollar-Related Findings

    Allowable costs are those costs identified in the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) Circulars and in the grant programís authorizing legislation. Grantees are only allowed reimbursement for those costs that are reasonable in nature and permissible under the specific guidance of the grant. For each grant award, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW issue a financial clearance memorandum to the grantee. The financial clearance memorandum includes: 1) the approved budget, budget categories, and budget period; 2) statements regarding the results of the fiscal integrity and financial capability reviews; 3) matching requirements; 4) verification of correct name, address and vendor number of the award recipient; and 5) any special conditions to the award.

    For each grant audited, we determined whether costs charged to the grant programs were allowable and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions of the grants. Based on the results of the individual grant audits, we found that unallowable and unsupported costs were charged to the grants. Further, we identified funds put to better use related grant funds that will not or should not be used. As a result, these costs were not used to meet the criminal justice needs funded under the grant program. In summary, the individual grant audits identified $5,542,540 in dollar-related findings, as shown in Table 15.

    TABLE 15: DOLLAR-RELATED FINDINGS FOR AUDITS OF GRANTS
    AWARDED TO TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS

    GRANTEE NAMEREPORT NO.QUESTIONED
    COSTS
    FUNDS PUT TO
    BETTER USE
    Passamaquoddy Tribe and Pleasant
      Point Reservation31
    GR-70-05-006$1,332,906-
    Blackfeet Tribal CouncilGR-60-04-0101,173,045$597,465
    Oglala Sioux TribeGR-60-05-0041,046,176-
    Navajo Nation Division of Public SafetyGR-60-05-001237,445-
    Lummi Indian NationGR-90-05-007173,040-
    Mississippi Band of Choctaw IndiansGR-40-05-003191,872-
    Eastern Band of Cherokee IndiansGR-40-05-004109,457-
    Chickasaw NationGR-80-05-003103,518-
    Chickasaw NationGR-80-05-00452,71120,701
    Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa
      Indians
    GR-50-05-00650,890-
    Chickasaw NationGR-80-05-00247,371-
    St. Regis Mohawk TribeGR-70-05-00820,47915,284
    Blackfeet Fish and Wildlife DepartmentGR-60-04-00818,375-
    Lummi Indian NationGR-90-05-0049,805-
    Navajo Nation Department of Resource
      Enforcement
    GR-60-04-0116,272115,632
    Choctaw Nation Law EnforcementGR-80-05-001-220,096
    Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries
      Enforcement
    GR-90-04-014--
    White Earth Reservation Tribal CouncilGR-50-05-005--
    TOTAL$4,573,362$969,178

    Source: OIG Audit Division

    The dollar-related findings for the individual grant audits included $4,573,362 in questioned costs and $969,178 in funds put to better use consisting of the following.

    • The grantee failed to provide auditable accounting records for one of the sites selected; therefore, we were unable to conduct the audit.

    • The grantee charged unallowable costs to the grant for 65 percent of the audits conducted, including: 1) costs that were not allowable per statutory or grant requirements; 2) costs that were not allowable per the financial clearance memorandum; and 3) salaries and fringe benefits in excess of approved amounts or for positions that were not approved for the grant.

    • The grantee charged costs that were not supported by adequate documentation for 59 percent of the audits conducted.

    • The grantee received drawdowns in excess of grant expenditures for 35 percent of the audits conducted.

    • The grantee received funding in excess of grant program needs resulting in funds put to better use for 35 percent of the audits conducted, e.g., the grantee did not intend to fill all positions approved under the grant; the grantee overestimated grant costs and funds that remained unspent after a reasonable amount of time.

    • The grantee transferred costs between budget categories in excess of 10 percent for which prior approval was not obtained from the granting agency for 50 percent of the OJP audits conducted.

    • The grantee failed to retain grant-funded positions for 13 percent of the audits conducted for COPS Office grants.

    Periodic Grantee Reports

    Financial and progress reports provide the awarding agency basic information regarding the status of the funds, the status of the project, a comparison of actual accomplishments to the grantís objectives, and other pertinent information. For each individual grant audit, we reviewed the granteeís compliance with financial and progress reporting requirements. Specifically, we: 1) determined if the last four financial reports and all progress reports were submitted in a timely manner; 2) determined if the financial and progress reports were not submitted or were submitted late, determined if the grantee received reimbursement(s) during the period(s) that the reports were overdue and the total amount of federal funding reimbursed to the grantee during these period(s); and 3) verified the accuracy of all financial and progress reports by comparing the reports to the source documentation maintained by the grantee.

    Based on the results of the individual grant audits, we found that periodic financial and progress reports were not regularly submitted or submitted in a timely manner. Specifically, we found that:

    • Not all required financial reports were submitted in a timely manner for 80 percent of the grantees audited.

    • Grantees were able to draw down funds totaling $1,263,942 during periods for which a current financial report had not been submitted.

    • Financial reports submitted were not accurate for 67 percent of the grantees audited.

    • Not all required progress reports were submitted for 53 percent of the grantees audited.32

    • Not all required progress reports were submitted in a timely manner for 73 percent of the grantees audited.

    • Grantees were able to draw down funds totaling $9,425,823 during periods for which a current progress report had not been submitted.

    Other Findings Reported

    • The grantee did not properly account for equipment purchased for 24 percent of the audits conducted.

    • The grantee did not have a formal plan to retain grant-funded positions for 25 percent of the audits conducted for COPS Office grants.

    • The grantee used grant funds to supplant local funds for 13 percent of the audits conducted for COPS Office grants.

    • The grantee charged unallowable or unsupported matching costs to the grant for 56 percent of audits conducted for OJP and OVW grants.

    • The grantee did not adequately monitoring subgrantees for 11 percent of the audits conducted for OJP and OVW grants.

    Conclusion

    Based on the results of the individual grant audits, we found that unallowable and unsupported costs totaling $4,573,362 were charged to the grants. Further, we identified funds put to better use totaling $969,178 related grant funds that will not or should not be used. As a result, these costs were not used to meet the criminal justice needs funded under the grant program. We also found that essential grant requirements were not met. Specifically,

    • Financial reports were not submitted in a timely manner and were often inaccurate.

    • Progress reports were not submitted or not submitted in a timely manner.

    • Grantees were allowed to draw down grant funds during periods when required reports had not been submitted.

    • Grantees did not properly account for equipment purchased.

    • COPS Office grantees did not have formal plans to retain grant funded positions and used grant funds to supplant local funds.

    • OJP grantees charged unallowable or unsupported matching costs and did not adequately monitor subgrantees.

    Based on the individual grant audits, we found that costs charged to the grant programs that were not allowable and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions of the grants. Further, the frequency and magnitude of issues identified in our individual grant audits indicate that critical grant requirements are not being met. In our judgment, these findings support our conclusion that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are not adequately monitoring the tribal-specific grant programs, resulting in significant numbers of tribal grantees who are not administering their grants in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions of the grants.

    We are not offering any recommendations related to the individual grant audits since recommendations were included in the separate audit reports. Additionally, recommendations related to the failure of the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW to adequately monitor tribal-specific grant programs are included in Findings I and II of this report.

  7. DOJ STRATEGY FOR AWARDING GRANTS TO TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS
  8. The BJA proposed to restructure its tribal-specific grant programs into a combined criminal justice program. Currently, the DOJ provides funding to tribal governments primarily through mandatory set-asides or programs intended specifically for tribal governments. This approach benefits tribal governments because they are not required to compete with state and local governments for limited funding. We found that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW did not ensure that tribal grantees submitted the information necessary to assess grant implementation and the achievement of grant program objectives. However, based on other measures, we determined that the tribal-specific grant programs were not always fully implemented in a timely manner or adequately monitored. Consequently, officials from the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW could not fully assess whether grant objectives have been achieved or whether current grant programs are effective in meeting the criminal justice needs of tribal governments. From past DOJ initiatives, we identified that coordination and training are critical to the success of any DOJ grant funding strategy. However, based on interviews with the granting agency and other DOJ officials, we found that the DOJ does not currently have a formalized process for coordination, information sharing, and training staff responsible for monitoring and administering grants awarded to tribal governments.

    A 1999 study found that from 1992 through 1996 the crime rate, especially the violent and juvenile crime rates, increased in Indian County while crime rates declined nationwide. According to a 2001 study conducted by the BJS, Native Americans are more likely to experience rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault than people of any other race.33 The DOJ recognizes that most of the responsibility for crime control and prevention rests with state and local governments, including tribal governments. To this end, the DOJ provides leadership and support to state, local, and tribal governments to further develop their capacity to prevent and control crime and administer justice fairly and effectively through various grant programs, training, technical assistance, research, and statistics.

    Our audit was initiated at the request of OJP who asked that the OIG conduct a review of the DOJ criminal justice funding awarded to tribal governments. In its request, OJP stated that ". . . a review should be conducted to determine how effective the various approaches [funding mechanisms] are in meeting short term and long term objectives and in having a long-term impact in the way criminal justice issues are handled by tribal governments." During our audit, we learned that the audit request was initiated by the BJA in part because of a proposal to restructure its tribal-specific grant programs into a combined criminal justice program.

    Proposed Funding Strategy

    The BJA has proposed consolidating the Tribal Courts, Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Tribal Drug Courts, and Tribal Youth programs "in an effort to streamline funding" that would allow tribal governments increased flexibility in prioritizing criminal justice needs and determining how the grant funds will be utilized. According to the BJA, the proposed Tribal Justice Assistance Grant (TJAG) Program would also streamline the application process and grant requirements, and attempt to eliminate duplication of monitoring efforts. In its proposal, the BJA states that the design of the TJAG Program will:

    • Broaden the flexibility of tribal governments to use their funding by blending purpose areas to create a wider range of options that will more fully support the funding decisions made by tribal grantees.

    • Streamline funding initiatives and improve communication and cooperation among federal, tribal, state, and local partners.

    • Support a structured and intensive assessment and planning process that leads to the development and implementation of comprehensive justice system planning.

    • Provide efficient and effective services that make the most of limited program funding.

    • Implement strategies that reflect the values and culture of the people being served.

    • Maintain focus on sustainability from the programís start.

    In our judgment the BJA proposal does not provide support that the TJAG Program will accomplish the objectives listed above. The TJAG Program may provide more flexibility to tribal governments in assessing their criminal justice priorities and determining how the grant funds will be utilized. However, the proposal also does not provide any details on how the TJAG Program will improve: 1) the development and implementation of comprehensive justice system planning, 2) provide efficient and effective services with limited funding, or 3) maintain sustainability from the program start.

    The proposed TJAG Program is in line with the DOJ policy on tribal sovereignty, in that it would allow tribal governments to assess their criminal justice priorities and determine how the grant funds will be utilized. However, any proposed strategy must balance accountability with flexibility. Our audit identified several concerns that should be addressed to ensure that any planned or future strategy, including the TJAG Program, is successful. In Findings I through IV, we found that current grant programs have not been adequately monitored or effectively administered by the granting agencies. Further, we found that tribal grantees were not always in compliance with grant requirements, and did not always expend grant funds in accordance with laws, regulations, and the terms and conditions of the grant.

    Effectiveness of the Current DOJ Funding Strategy

    Currently, the DOJ provides funding to tribal governments mostly through mandatory set-asides or programs intended specifically for tribal governments. The approach benefits tribal governments because they are not required to compete with state and local governments for limited funding. For example, at least 5 percent of criminal justice funding is set aside specifically for grants to tribal governments for the: 1) Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders Program, 2) Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization Enforcement Grants Program, and 3) Safe Havens for Children Pilot Program.34 Additionally, The COPS Office, OJP, and OVW administer the following tribal-specific grant programs designed to address issues of law enforcement, domestic violence, child abuse, juvenile justice, and victimsí services.35

    TRIBAL-SPECIFIC GRANT PROGRAMS
    COPS OFFICEOJPOVW

    • Tribal Resource Grant Program
    • Tribal Hiring Renewal Grant Program
    • Mental Health and Community Safety Initiative
    • Tribal Courts Pilot Program

    • Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program
    • Tribal Courts Assistance Program
    • Correctional Facilities on Tribal Lands Program
    • Tribal Youth Program
    • Tribal Victim Assistance Program
    • Children's Justice Act Partnerships for Indian Communities Program

    • S•T•O•P Violence Against Indian Women Program

    Grant Program Effectiveness

    To adequately evaluate the effectiveness of the current tribal specific grant programs, it is necessary to assess whether the grants have been fully implemented and whether program objectives have been achieved. We found that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW did not ensure that tribal grantees submitted the information necessary to assess grant implementation and the achievement of grant program objectives. Additionally, there was no consistency in the information provided in the required progress reports that were submitted. As a result, our audit focused on the utilization of grant funding as an indicator of whether the grants have been fully implemented and program objectives have been achieved. The OIG is also planning to initiate a separate follow-on audit of a tribal-specific grant program to obtain grant performance information directly from the grantees and evaluate whether grant objectives are being achieved.

    Required financial and progress reports contain the minimum information necessary to determine whether grant programs have been implemented and grant objectives are being achieved. Financial reports include actual and cumulative expenditures, while progress reports provide information on grant activities and accomplishments during the reporting period. However, these reports generally do not contain documentation supporting the information reported and there was no consistency in the information provided in the required progress reports that were submitted. Additionally, we found that 81 percent of the grant files reviewed were missing one or more financial reports and financial reports were not submitted in a timely manner for 97 percent of grants. Additionally, 80 percent were missing one or more progress reports and progress reports were not submitted in a timely manner for 88 percent of the grants. Further, the COPS Office has only sporadically required progress reports for its grants and no progress reports have been required for grants awarded after FY 2001. As a result, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW do not have the most basic information necessary to determine whether grant programs have been implemented and grant objectives have been achieved.

    Further, timely closure of expired grants is important in determining whether grant programs have been effective in meeting the needs of tribal governments. As a part of the closeout process, grant managers are required to ensure that final financial and progress reports are submitted. They then review the reports to determine if grant objectives have been achieved. As discussed in Finding III of this report, we found that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW are not closing grants in a timely manner.

    Since the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW did not ensure that the grantees are providing the most basic information necessary to determine whether grant programs have been implemented and grant objectives have been achieved, DOJ grant managers cannot currently assess the effectiveness of tribal-specific grant programs. However, as a part of our audit we identified several measures that may help evaluate the effectiveness of the tribal specific grant programs. Specifically, our review of the obligations and drawdowns of grant funds provides an indication of whether the grants were fully implemented in a timely manner and the overall grantee progress toward achieving the grant objectives. We realize that while the rate of drawdowns is not a definitive indicator of grant activity, drawdowns can be an important indicator of overall grantee progress toward achieving the grant objectives.

    Based on our review, we determined that the tribal-specific grant programs were not always fully implemented in a timely manner. This is an indication that grant objectives have not been achieved and that the current programs are not effective in meeting the criminal justice needs of tribal governments. Based on the results of our review, we found that:

    • Funds were not obligated (made available) until more than 6 months after the award start date for 128 OJP grants totaling $29.50 million, and 71 OVW grants totaling $29.43 million. If grant funds are not obligated in a timely manner, tribal governments may encounter significant delays in implementing essential criminal justice programs.

    • For more than 2 years after grant funds were obligated, no funds had been drawn down for 52 COPS Office grants totaling $17.22 million, 23 OJP grants totaling $20.84 million, and 3 OVW grants totaling $0.15 million, indicating the grant programs had not been implemented.

    • The initial drawdown did not occur for over 1 year after the funds were obligated for 200 COPS Office grants totaling $31.90 million, 71 OJP grants totaling $71.89 million, and 10 OVW grants totaling $1.96 million, indicating that the grant programs were not implemented in a timely manner.

    • The last drawdown occurred more than 1 year prior to our review for 126 COPS Office grants with remaining funds totaling $2.80 million, 34 OJP grants with remaining funds totaling $1.71 million, and 11 OVW grants with remaining funds totaling $1.09 million, indicating the grant programs were not fully implemented.

    In sum, our audit disclosed that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW did not ensure that the grantees are providing the most basic information necessary to determine whether grant programs have been implemented and grant objectives have been achieved. Specifically, for the majority of the grants reviewed one or more required financial and progress reports, which contain the minimum information necessary to determine whether grant programs have been implemented and grant objectives are being achieved (especially final reports), were not submitted or were not submitted in a timely manner. Further, despite the fact that grant closeout includes a review to determine whether grant objectives were achieved, we found that grants were not closed out in a timely manner.

    Impairments to the Current Funding Strategy

    Our audit identified several concerns that could be impairments to the effectiveness of any strategy for providing criminal justice funding to tribal governments. These concerns must be addressed to ensure that any planned or future strategy is successful.

    In Finding I, we reported that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW did not adequately monitor tribal-specific grant programs. All required financial and progress reports that are essential for effective monitoring generally were not submitted or were not submitted in a timely manner. Further, the COPS Office has not routinely required grantees to submit progress reports and has not required any progress reports for grants awarded since FY 2001. If grant programs are not adequately monitored, the awarding agency cannot ensure that programs are meeting the criminal justice needs of tribal governments. Further, early identification and follow up with concerns related to tribal specific grants is essential to the successful implementation of the grant programs to ensure that the needs of tribal governments are met.

    In Finding II, we reported that OJP and OVW did not always ensure that funds were obligated in a timely manner due to inadequacies in proposed grant budgets and delays in grantees complying with single audit requirements or other conditions of prior grants. In our judgment, any future strategy should ensure that OJP and OVW improve the grant award and funding process.

    In Finding II, we also reported that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW do not monitor grant drawdowns. We recognize that failure to draw down funds is not a definitive indicator that grant funds are not being utilized and grant programs have not been implemented. However, in our judgment, monitoring grant drawdowns is an effective tool for identifying potential problems encountered by grantees in implementing grant programs. Early detection of potential problems in implementing grants is essential in ensuring the success of tribal-specific grant programs. Any successful strategy for funding tribal governments should ensure that grant managers are required to monitor grant drawdowns and follow up with grantees that are not drawing down grant funds in a timely manner.

    Finally, in Finding IV we reported that grantees are not always using grant funds in accordance with laws, regulations, and the terms and conditions of the grants. In our judgment, future funding strategies should ensure that grant programs are adequately monitored and that grantees are held accountable for complying with grant requirements. The successful implementation of the grant program, meeting grant objectives, and expending grant funds in accordance with laws, regulations, and the terms and conditions of the grant is essential to any successful funding strategy.

    Analysis of Current Tribal-Specific Grant Programs

    The BJA also requested that our audit identify areas to better administer grants. Based on the results of our audit, we have identified several tribal-specific grant programs that appear to be less effectively administered and, therefore, less effective in improving criminal justice in Indian Country. Our conclusions are based on the weaknesses identified previously in Findings II and III of this report.

    In Finding II, we identified 199 OJP and OVW grants totaling $58,928,223, for which grant funds were not always obligated in a timely manner. Delays in obligating grant funds could result in significant delays in the implementation of the grant programs. As shown in Table 16, concerns related to timely obligation of grant funds were most frequently identified for the following grant programs.

    TABLE 16: GRANT PROGRAMS MOST FREQUENTLY IDENTIFIED FOR
    WHICH OBLIGATIONS WERE NOT TIMELY
    (Dollars in Millions)
    PROGRAMNO. OF
    GRANTS
    % OF
    PROGRAM
    AWARDS
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    % OF
    PROGRAM
    FUNDING
    Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse
      Program
    1352%$3.7149%
    S•T•O•P Violence Against Indian Women
      Program
    7151%$29.4370%
    Tribal Youth Program9046%$20.6943%
    Children's Justice Act Partnerships for
      Indian Communities Program
    516%$1.4224%
    Tribal Courts Assistance Program2012%$3.6716%

    Source: OIG Audit Division

    In Finding II, we identified 78 COPS Office, OJP, and OVW grants totaling $38,210,363 for which no grant funds had been drawn down. We recognize that failure to draw down funds is not a definitive indicator that grant funds are not being utilized and grant programs have not been implemented. However, failure to draw down grant funds may be an indication that the grant program is not meeting the criminal justice needs of tribal governments. As shown in Table 17, concerns related to grant funds not being drawn down were most frequently identified for the following grant programs.

    TABLE 17: GRANT PROGRAMS MOST FREQUENTLY IDENTIFIED FOR
    WHICH GRANT FUNDS HAD NOT BEEN DRAWN DOWN

    (Dollars in Millions)
    PROGRAMNO. OF
    GRANTS
    % OF
    PROGRAM
    AWARDS
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    % OF
    PROGRAM
    FUNDING
    Correctional Facilities on Tribal Lands
      Program
    213%$16.7615%
    Tribal Resource Grant Program - Hiring229%$12.5619%
    Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse
      Program
    28%$0.527%
    Tribal Youth Program116%$3.106%
    Tribal Resource Grant Program -
      Equipment
    295%$4.626%

    Source: OIG Audit Division

    In Finding II, we identified 281 COPS Office, OJP, and OVW grants totaling $105,748,735 for which the initial drawdown occurred more than 1 year after the funds were obligated, indicating that the grantee may have encountered problems implementing the grant program. As shown in Table 18, concerns related to the initial drawdown were most frequently identified for the following grant programs.

    TABLE 18: GRANT PROGRAMS MOST FREQUENTLY IDENTIFIED FOR
    WHICH INITIAL DRAWDOWN OCCURRED MORE
    THAN ONE YEAR FROM THE DATE GRANT FUNDS WERE
    OBLIGATED
    (Dollars in Millions)
    PROGRAMNO. OF
    GRANTS
    % OF
    PROGRAM
    AWARDS
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    % OF
    PROGRAM
    FUNDING
    Correctional Facilities on Tribal Lands
      Program
    956%$60.3854%
    Tribal Mental Health and Community
      Safety Initiative - Hiring
    327%$0.3128%
    Tribal Resource Grant Program - Hiring6526%$15.5223%
    Tribal Mental Health and Community
      Safety Initiative - Equipment
    421%$0.1518%
    Tribal Resource Grant Program -
      Equipment
    12521%$15.0818%
    Tribal Hiring Renewal Grant Program217%$0.314%
    Tribal Youth Program3216%$8.3117%
    Tribal Victim Assistance Discretionary
      Grant Program
    814%$1.0215%
    Tribal Courts Assistance Program2012%$1.828%

    Source: OIG Audit Division

    In Finding III, we identified 322 grants that are 90 days past the grant end date with total funds remaining of $10,745,048, indicating that grant funds had not been fully utilized and that the grant program may not have been fully implemented. As shown in Table 19, concerns related to expired grants that are 90 days past the grant end date with funds remaining were most frequently identified for the following grant programs.

    TABLE 19: GRANT PROGRAMS MOST FREQUENTLY IDENTIFIED FOR
    WHICH GRANT FUNDS REMAINED FOR EXPIRED GRANTS
    90 DAYS PAST THE GRANT END DATE
    (Dollars in Millions)
    PROGRAMNO. OF
    GRANTS
    % OF
    EXPIRED
    PROGRAM
    AWARDS
    GRANT
    FUNDING
    Tribal Mental Health and Community Safety Initiative
      - Equipment
    1694%$0.26
    Tribal Victim Assistance Discretionary Grant Program1869%$0.62
    Tribal Courts Assistance Program3369%$0.93
    S•T•O•P Violence Against Indian Women Program3056%$1.25
    Children's Justice Act Partnerships for Indian
      Communities Program
    556%$0.31
    Tribal Youth Program1647%$0.51
    Tribal Resource Grant Program - Equipment17242%$4.33
    Correctional Facilities on Tribal Lands Program240%$0.46
    Tribal Resource Grant Program - Hiring2736%$1.83

    Source: OIG Audit Division

    Tribal Response to Current Funding Strategy

    As a part of our audit, the BJA also requested that we determine the tribal granteeís opinion of the DOJ tribal-specific grant programs. For the 15 grantees we conducted interviews to determine the granteeís opinion of the DOJ grant programs audited.

    For the COPS Office grants overall, we found that the tribal grantees generally were satisfied with the DOJ strategy for awarding grants because they did not have to compete with state and local governments for funding. However, several tribal grantees told the OIG that the COPS Office monitoring of its grant programs is inadequate. For example, they said that grant managers did not routinely contact them to determine if the grant program was being implemented as planned. The tribal grantees stated that they are only contacted by grant managers after a mistake has been identified. Further, one grantee stated that the COPS Office does not seem to understand the uniqueness of tribal structure and tribal systems, including procurement and record maintenance.

    We found that the grantees generally were satisfied with the COPS Office equipment grants. Grantees stated that the equipment grants were very helpful in bringing the tribal police department up to date technologically. Further, the equipment grants allow the tribal grantees to purchase much needed equipment for the entire police department. However, grantees had concerns related to the TRGP hiring grants because the programs only provide funding for a 3-year period which does not meet long-term personnel needs.

    Generally, grantees also were satisfied with OJP and OVW grant programs. Grantees stated that the programs were effective in meeting immediate funding needs. According to the grantees, the grant programs provide the funding necessary to get new programs started and continue existing programs. The OJP and OVW grant programs also provide funding for equipment and technology needs. One grantee stated that she did not have any concerns since there were so many options available for obtaining grant funding for programs.

    However, several grantees identified concerns that criminal justice programs will have to be discontinued if the DOJ funding for the program is not approved for future years. One grantee had concerns that the overall funding strategy appeared to be a piecemeal approach to meeting criminal justice needs and that funding is limited. Another grantee stated that the turnover of OJP employees responsible for monitoring grants appears to be high.

    Prior DOJ Funding Strategies

    Historically, the DOJ implemented a series of initiatives designed to improve law enforcement and the administration of criminal and juvenile justice in Indian Country. These initiatives also attempted to address some of the problems (discussed in the Background section of this report) that significantly impact the federal governmentís ability to effectively implement grant programs that provide funding to tribal governments.

    • Indian Country Justice Initiative - In November 1995, the DOJ launched the Indian Country Justice Initiative to improve the responsiveness of the DOJ to the criminal justice needs in Indian Country. The intent of this initiative was to: 1) improve coordination among federal and tribal justice systems as well as relevant service providers; 2) encourage and develop innovative approaches to justice; 3) improve existing systems including communications and procedures; 4) strengthen offender supervision and treatment; 5) expand prevention, intervention and training activities; and 6) enforce laws against major crimes, especially those involving violence.

    • Comprehensive Indian Country Law Enforcement Initiative - In October 1999, the DOJ announced the Comprehensive Indian Country Law Enforcement Initiative. This initiative was a 4 year joint project between the DOJ and the Department of Interior designed to improve law enforcement and the administration of criminal and juvenile justice in Indian Country. The initiative also addressed the need for additional resources to respond to crime in tribal communities, including increased funding for police officers, courts, detention facilities, and prevention and intervention programs.

    • Comprehensive Indian Resource for Community and Law Enforcement (CIRCLE) Project - The CIRCLE project was one component of the 1999 Comprehensive Indian Country Law Enforcement Initiative. The CIRCLE Project was a 3-year program designed to empower tribal governments to more effectively fight crime, violence, and substance abuse. The goal of the CIRCLE project was to assist tribal governments in addressing local problems in a comprehensive way through effective planning and appropriate funding. The CIRCLE project required tribal governments to develop a comprehensive strategy that incorporated coordinated and multi-disciplinary efforts for developing and implementing crime, violence, and drug control efforts.

    In 2000, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) initiated an evaluation of the effectiveness of the CIRCLE project, including the development and use of the comprehensive strategy, and coordination of the individual components. The CIRCLE project evaluation is a multi-phased 4-year evaluation. The first phase of the evaluation found that the CIRCLE project made significant contributions to the participating tribesí efforts to design and build stronger justice systems.36 Specifically, the first phase of the evaluation recommended that:

    • Efforts should be continued to support comprehensive justice system planning and improve communication and cooperation among federal agencies and between the federal and tribal governments.

    • Future initiatives should be supported only with a structured and intensive period of assessment and planning. Strategies that are implemented should result from this process. The notion that strategies will likely vary within the tribal setting should be built into any future initiative.

    • Future projects should focus on sustainability from the start. A critical investment in such an initiative is high quality, culturally competent technical assistance. This investment will increase the likelihood that a project will result in system change. At the least, such a project will leave behind human capital, data, or procedural tools.

    • The project coordinator position was found to be vital in promoting an emphasis on system planning and should be included in any future DOJ initiatives.

    Based on the results identified above, two key practices critical to the success of any DOJ funding strategy are training and coordination.

    Coordination and Training

    Based on discussions with the COPS Office, OJP, OVW, and Office of Tribal Justice (OTJ) officials, we found that agencies administering tribal specific grant programs are faced with a wide range of unique issues specific to Indian Country. These issues include the following:

    • Granting agencies and staff generally have little understanding of tribal culture.

    • There tends to be a high turnover in tribal leadership and tribal staff responsible for managing the grant programs.

    • There is a lack of adequate technology within Indian Country. Many tribal governments do not have funding necessary for advanced office automation, including accounting systems and training for staff.

    • There is a lack of comprehensive statistical data on crime committed in Indian Country, which is required in applications for many criminal justice grant programs.

    Further, the DOJ grants are administered by various DOJ components, bureaus, and offices, including the COPS Office, BJA, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), and OVW.37 The OJP is responsible for policy coordination and general management of the BJA, OJJDP, OVC, and the American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk (AI/AN Affairs Desk). 38 Additionally, the OTJ coordinates DOJ policies and positions on Indian Country issues. As a result, any comprehensive strategy to improve the responsiveness of the DOJ to criminal justice needs in Indian Country must start with the development of a formal process for coordination and training.

    To identify the extent of coordination and information sharing related to the DOJ efforts to address criminal justice needs in Indian Country, we interviewed program officials for each of the tribal-specific grant programs and supporting agencies. Based on our review, we determined that each component generally has an informal mechanism in place for coordination and information sharing. However, these coordination efforts appear to be ad hoc, occurring only when one of the participants initiates efforts for specific activities. There is currently no formal mechanism in place for ongoing coordination and information sharing within OJP and among the DOJ components. Nonetheless, all of the components, bureaus, and program offices stated that it would be beneficial to meet on a regular basis with representatives who are involved in the DOJ efforts to address criminal justice needs in Indian Country.

    In our judgment, coordination is essential in developing funding strategies and administering and monitoring grant activities. As stated previously, the first phase of the CIRCLE project evaluation conducted by the NIJ found that efforts should be continued to improve communication and cooperation among federal agencies and between the federal and tribal governments. The evaluations also found any future initiatives should be supported only with a structured and intensive period of assessment and planning. Any such effort would require systematic coordination among the DOJ components that provide criminal justice funding in Indian Country.

    Coordination and information sharing are also essential for effectively providing assistance to tribal governments and dealing with the wide range of issues specific to Indian Country. If a formalized mechanism for coordination and information sharing was in place, all granting agencies would be informed in a timely manner of changes in tribal leadership or staff. Further, if one grant manager has useful information related to new contacts within the tribe, that information could be shared with all of the grant mangers administering grants for the same tribe.

    As noted in Findings I through IV of this report, our audit revealed that the DOJís monitoring and administration of tribal-specific grant programs is ineffective. Frequently, monitoring related issues identified by one grant manager impact more than one grant. If grant managers were to meet on a regular basis to coordinate and share information, then other grant managers responsible for monitoring and administering grants for the same tribe could be alerted to look for similar problems. This process could be further enhanced by requiring grant mangers to provide copies of monitoring reports to the other DOJ components, bureaus, and offices.

    In addition to a formalized process for coordinating and sharing information related to the administration of DOJ grants awarded to tribal governments, a formal process for training staff is also essential. To identify the extent and need for training staff responsible for administering and monitoring grants awarded to tribal governments, we interviewed program officials for each of the tribal-specific grant programs and supporting agencies. Officials from the BJA and OJJDP stated that they provide training to new grant managers on tribal-specific issues; however, the DOJ has not effectively implemented a formal process for training staff responsible for administering tribal-specific grants. Officials from all of the components, bureaus, and program offices stated that it would be beneficial to develop such a training program.

    In our judgment, training for staff responsible for administering and monitoring tribal-specific grants should focus on: 1) cultural awareness, including the history of the relationship between the federal and tribal governments, 2) the sovereign status of tribal governments, and 3) the jurisdictional complexities and limitations in Indian Country. Further, the training should provide the grant manager with techniques for assisting tribal governments with concerns related to grant administration. Specifically, training should include information related to:

    • High turnover of tribal leadership. Turnover in tribal leadership may require that the grant managers consult with tribal leaders each time there is a change in the tribal leadership to ensure that new tribal leaders understand and "buy into" the existing grant programs.

    • High turnover in tribal staff. Turnover in tribal staff may result in new personnel who are not aware of the fact that the tribe has DOJ grants. Grant mangers should be prepared to answer questions, provide grant documentation and reports, and refer new staff for training.

    • Technological issues. Many tribal governments have limited technology, including accounting systems or staff who are not trained to use available technology. Some tribes may still be using hand written accounting records. Grant managers should be aware of technological issues and be prepared to refer tribes to funding sources for new technology and training.

    Conclusion

    During our audit, we learned that the audit request was initiated by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) in part because of a proposal to restructure its tribal-specific grant programs into a combined criminal justice program. Currently, the DOJ provides funding to tribal governments primarily through mandatory set-asides or programs intended specifically for tribal governments. This approach benefits tribal governments because they are not required to compete with state and local governments for limited funding. We found that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW did not ensure that tribal grantees submitted the information necessary to assess grant implementation and the achievement of grant program objectives. However, based on other measures, we determined that the tribal-specific grant programs were not always fully implemented in a timely manner, indicating that grant objectives have not been achieved and that the current programs are not effective in meeting the criminal justice needs of tribal governments. We also identified the areas where the tribal-specific grant programs that appear to be less effectively monitored and administered and therefore, possibly less effective in improving criminal justice in Indian Country.

    Based on the successful practices identified from past tribal grant funding initiatives, coordination and information sharing are an essential part of any strategy for effectively providing assistance to tribal governments and addressing the wide range of unique issues specific to Indian Country. The DOJ grants to tribal governments are administered by various DOJ components, bureaus, and offices. Additionally, the OTJ coordinates DOJ policies and positions on Indian Country issues. As a result, any comprehensive strategy to improve the responsiveness of the DOJ to criminal justice needs in Indian Country must start with the development of a formal process for coordination and training within and among the DOJ components.

    We found that there is no formal mechanism in place for coordination and information sharing within OJP and among the DOJ components. While, each component had an informal mechanism in place for coordination and information sharing, these efforts appear to be ad hoc, occurring only when one of the participants initiates efforts for specific activities. A formal mechanism for coordination and information sharing could, for example, require grant mangers to provide copies of monitoring reports to the other components, bureaus, and offices.

    We also found the DOJ has not effectively implemented a training program to deal with the unique issues related to tribal governments. In our judgment, the DOJ should establish a formal process to train staff responsible for administering and monitoring tribal-specific grant programs. Training should focus on: 1) the wide range of unique issues specific to tribal governments, 2) cultural awareness including the history of the relationship between the federal and tribal governments, 3) the sovereign status of tribal governments, and 4) the jurisdictional complexities and limitations in Indian Country.

    Recommendations

    We recommend that the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW:

    1. Work with OTJ to develop a formalized mechanism for coordinating and sharing information, including monitoring reports, related to a DOJ strategy, administration, and monitoring of grants awarded to tribal governments.

    2. Work with OTJ to develop a formalized process for training staff responsible for administering and monitoring tribal-specific grant programs.


Footnotes

  1. It should be noted that although OVW is currently a permanent and independent office within the DOJ, at the time the grants were awarded the OVW was still within the OJP; as a result, the OVW grants reviewed were originally included as part of the OJP sample.
  2. During this review, the COPS Office initially did not provide the OIG timely access to its grant monitoring files. After repeated requests, the COPS Office finally provided its grant monitoring files; however, it was clear that during the period that access was withheld from the OIG, the COPS Office had updated the files to add: 1) issue reports, 2) site visit checklists, and 3) other information related to work that was conducted 2 years previously. This matter was addressed in a memorandum from the OIG to the COPS Office, dated March 3, 2004.
  3. The COPS Office was unable to locate the financial file for one of the grants selected; therefore, our review of financial reports were based on 59 COPS Office grants rather than 59.
  4. This percentage only includes the 45 grants in our sample for which the COPS Office had required progress reports. The COPS OFfice had not yet required progress reports for the 14 2002 and 2003 TRGP Hiring and Equipment grants or the 2001 and 2002 TMHCSI Hiring and Equipment grants included in our sample.
  5. Questioned Costs are expenditures that do not comply with legal, regulatory, or contractual requirements, or are not supported by adequate documentation at the time of the audit, or are unnecessary or unreasonable. Questioned costs may be remedied by offset, waiver, recovery of funds, or the provision of supporting documentation.
  6. Differences in the total amounts are due to rounding, e.g., the sum of individual numbers prior to rounding reported may differ from the sum of the individual numbers rounded.
  7. To be conservative, we used the date the funds were obligated instead of the award start date when determining the delays on the part of the grantee in drawing down grant funds identified in this section of the report. In the previous section of this report, we noted that OJP and OVW did not always ensure that grant funds were obligated in a timely manner.
  8. Differences in the total amounts are due to rounding, e.g., the sum of individual numbers prior to rounding reported may differ from the sum of the individual numbers rounded.
  9. Differences in the total amounts are due to rounding, e.g., the sum of individual numbers prior to rounding reported may differ from the sum of the individual numbers rounded.
  10. Funds Put to Better Use are funds not yet expended that could be used more efficiently if management took actions to implement and complete audit recommendations.
  11. 28 CFR, Part 66, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments.
  12. Differences in the total amounts are due to rounding, e.g., the sum of individual numbers prior to rounding reported may differ from the sum of the individual numbers rounded.
  13. Executive summaries of these audits are available for public review at www.usdoj.gov/oig.
  14. See Appendices VII and VIII for a listing of audits, including dollar-related findings, of COPS Office and OJP tribal grantees conducted by the OIG.
  15. No OVW grants were included in the 27 prior audits conducted by the OIG.
  16. The Passamaquoddy Tribe was unable to provide auditable accounting records for the grants selected for audit; as a result, we questioned all drawdowns for the grants.
  17. The COPS Office had not yet required progress reports for the 2001 through 2003 THRGP grants, and the 2002 and 2003 TRGP Hiring and Equipment grants.
  18. BJS Special Report, Violent Victimization and Race, 1993-98, March 2001.
  19. See Appendices IV and V for a detailed description of mandatory set-asides and nontribal-specific grants awarded to tribal governments.
  20. See the Background section of this report for a detailed description of the tribal-specific grant programs.
  21. The second phase of the CIRCLE Project evaluation is now in process and is planned for completion in FY 2005.
  22. See Appendix III for a detailed description of the OJP bureaus, program offices, and agency-wide support offices.
  23. The AI/AN Affairs Desk is designed to enhance access to information by federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes regarding funding opportunities, training and technical assistance, and other relevant information.



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