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


Introduction


According to the 2000 Census, 4.1 million people,1 or 1.5 percent of the total population, identified themselves as American Indians or Alaska Natives (Native Americans).2 Despite the relatively small Native American population, a 2001 study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) indicated that Native Americans are more likely to experience rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault than people of any other race.3 Another study conducted by the BJS indicated that:4

  • Native Americans experience per capita rates of violence that are more than twice those of the United States resident population.

  • Rates of violence in every age group are higher among Native Americans than that of all other races.

  • Nearly a third of all Native American victims of violence are between ages 18 and 24, the highest per capita rate of violence of any racial group considered by age - approximately 1 violent crime for every 4 persons of this age range.

  • The arrest rate among Native Americans for alcohol related offenses was more than double that found among all races.

  • On a per capita basis, Native Americans had a rate of prison incarceration about 38 percent higher than the national rate.

One strategic objective of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is to improve the crime fighting and criminal justice administration capabilities of tribal governments.5 This objective is incorporated in the DOJ Strategic Plan, which includes the goals, objectives, and strategies for achieving its mission. The DOJís strategies for achieving this objective include:

  • providing resources to states, tribes, and local jurisdictions to enhance law enforcement efforts;

  • providing direct technical support to state, local, and tribal law enforcement;

  • facilitating the prosecution and adjudication of federal, state, tribal, and local laws;

  • enhancing the human and technological capability of state, tribal, and local jurisdictions to share information and resources to combat crime; and

  • providing funding, information, training, and technical assistance to state, local, and tribal governments to prevent juvenile delinquency and improve the juvenile justice system.

Although the federal governmentís role in crime-fighting has expanded in recent years, most of the responsibility for crime control and prevention rests with our state and local governments, including tribal governments. To this end, the DOJ seeks to provide leadership and support to further develop their capacity to prevent and control crime and administer justice fairly and effectively by providing various grant programs, training, technical assistance, research, and statistics.

Within the DOJ, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), and Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) are the primary agencies responsible for providing grant funding to enhance and support the efforts of tribal governments to address crime, violence, and victimization in Native American communities and villages.6 The COPS Office, OJP, and OVW also provide funding for research and evaluation projects, and training and technical assistance. These components provide funding to tribal governments mostly through mandatory set-asides or programs intended specifically for tribal governments.

DOJ Grant Funding Agencies

During FYs 2000 through 2003, the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW funding for grant programs to improve criminal justice systems totaled $18.8 billion, of which $424.2 million (2.3 percent) was awarded to tribal governments. These components provided funding to tribal governments totaling $77.4 million through competitive programs and mandatory set asides and $346.8 million through programs intended specifically for tribal governments.

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

The mission of the COPS Office is to advance community policing in jurisdictions of all sizes across the country. To this end, the COPS Office provides grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire and train community policing professionals, acquire and deploy new crime fighting technologies, and develop and test innovative policing strategies.

Our audit generally included, but was not limited to, grants awarded to tribal governments during FYs 2000 through 2003. During the period covered by our audit, the COPS Office budget totaled $4.1 billion, of which $147.13 million (3.6 percent) was awarded to tribal governments, as shown in Table 1.

TABLE 1: TRIBAL FUNDING AWARDED BY THE COPS OFFICE
(Dollars in Millions)
 FY 2000FY 2001FY 2002FY 2003TOTAL
Total Budget$595.00$1,037.12$1,050.44$1,381.03$4,063.59
Tribal Resource Grant Program$35.23$34.10$31.63$29.33$130.29
Tribal Hiring Renewal Grant Program0.000.551.186.838.56
Tribal Mental Health and Community
Safety Initiative
0.240.800.920.001.96
Other Programs1.681.661.961.026.32
Total Funding Awarded to Tribal
Governments, All Programs
$37.15$37.11$35.69$37.18$147.13

Source: DOJ Budget Summaries for FYs 2001 - 2003 and the COPS Office

The COPS Office awards funding to tribal governments through programs that are open to all state, local, and tribal governments, and through the following programs that are intended specifically for tribal governments.7

  • Tribal Resource Grant Program (TRGP) is a broad grant program designed to meet law enforcement needs in Native American communities and villages. This program offers a wide variety of funding in areas such as hiring additional officers, law enforcement training, uniforms, basic issue equipment, emerging technologies, and police vehicles.

  • Tribal Hiring Renewal Grant Program (THRGP) is designed to assist fiscally distressed tribal governments by renewing previous COPS hiring grant positions that have been exempted from the retention requirement on recently expired COPS hiring grants.8 The THRGP provides 100 percent of allowable salary and benefit costs for renewed officer positions with no local funding match requirement for an additional 2 year period. This program focuses on Native American communities and villages which have limited resources, many of which are affected by high rates of crime and violence.

  • Tribal Mental Health and Community Safety Initiative (MHCSI) provides funding directly to tribal jurisdictions with established law enforcement agencies. The MHCSI offers a variety of funding options, including entry-level salaries and benefits of newly hired officers, training, uniforms, basic issue equipment, officer-related technology, and vehicles for new and existing police officers. The MHCSI was designed to expand the implementation of community policing and meet the most serious needs of law enforcement in Native American communities and villages through a broadened comprehensive program. All officers hired under the MHCSI grant program (or an equal number of veteran, locally funded officers) must serve as school resource and/or community resource officers. The MHCSI grant program is intended to strengthen the overall law enforcement infrastructure in Native American communities and villages.

  • Tribal Court Pilot Program (TCPP) funding is intended to provide assistance to address the increase in caseloads associated with increased arrests anticipated from grant funding to support tribal law enforcement. Specifically, this program funds 100 percent of the total costs to implement one or more of the following: 1) salaries and benefits to hire additional court personnel (e.g., probation officers, process servers); 2) additional training for new and existing court personnel; 3) additional technology to improve and enhance case management (e.g., computer hardware, software); and 4) any other measure that may provide a significant improvement in case management and is not otherwise funded with tribal, state, or local funds.

Office of Justice Programs

The OJP administers grant programs, supports research and evaluation projects, and provides training and technical assistance for state, local, and tribal governments.9 Our audit generally included, but was not limited to, grants awarded to tribal governments during FYs 2000 through 2003. During the period covered by our audit, the combined OJP and OVW budget totaled $15.4 billion of which $277.03 million (1.8 percent) was awarded to tribal governments, as shown in Table 2.10

TABLE 2: TRIBAL FUNDING AWARDED BY OJP AND OVW
(Dollars in Millions)
 FY 2000FY 2001FY 2002FY 2003TOTAL
Total Combined OJP and OVW
Budget
$3919.61$4,175.72$4,636.63$1,960.68$14,692.64
OJP - Indian Alcohol and Substance
Abuse Program
$0.00$0.00$0.00$7.60$7.60
OJP - Tribal Courts Assistance
Program
3.910.007.9111.5823.40
OJP - Correctional Facilities on
Tribal Lands Program
28.8419.4542.670.0090.96
OJP - Tribal Youth Program7.7310.0420.289.8247.87
OJP - Tribal Victims Assistance
Discretionary Grant Program
0.921.361.642.116.03
OJP - Children's Justice Act
Partnerships for Indian
Communities Program
0.561.221.441.564.78
OJP - Other Programs21.4917.3414.8817.3771.08
Total OJP Funding Awarded to
Tribal Governments
$63.45$49.41$88.82$50.04$251.72
OVW - S•T•O•P Violence Against
Indian Women Program
$5.92$7.65$4.84$6.90$25.31
Total OJP and OVW Funding
Awarded to Tribal Governments
$69.37$57.06$93.66$56.94$277.03

Source: DOJ Budget Summaries for FYs 2001 - 2003, OJP, and OVW

The OJP awards funding to tribal governments through its programs that are open to all state, local, and tribal governments, and through the following programs that are intended specifically for tribal governments.11

  • Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program is designed to reduce crimes associated with the distribution and abuse of alcohol and controlled substances in tribal communities. The program seeks to mobilize Native American communities and villages to implement or enhance innovative, collaborative efforts to address public safety issues related to alcohol and substance abuse.

  • Tribal Courts Assistance Program is designed to support the implementation, enhancement, and continuing operation of tribal justice systems.

  • Correctional Facilities of Tribal Lands Program is designed to support the construction of jails on tribal lands for the incarceration of offenders subject to tribal jurisdiction.

  • Tribal Youth Program is designed to support and enhance tribal efforts to prevent and control delinquency and improve the juvenile justice system for Native American youth. A major focus of the program is providing Native American youth with mental health services. Up to 10 percent of the allocation will be invested in program-related research, evaluation, and statistics on tribal activity.

  • Tribal Victim Assistance Discretionary Grant Program is designed to create accessible and responsive victim assistance services on tribal lands and reservations where federal prosecution of major crimes occurs.

  • Childrenís Justice Act Partnerships for Indian Communities Discretionary Grant Program is designed to help tribal justice systems address serious child abuse cases by developing specialized services and procedures to address the needs of Native American child victims and strategies to handle cases of child sexual abuse.

Office on Violence Against Women

The OVW is responsible for managing the DOJís legal and policy issues regarding violence against women and coordinating DOJ efforts in this area by providing national and international leadership, receiving international visitors interested in learning about the federal governmentís role in addressing violence against women, and responding to requests for information regarding violence against women. The OVW administers the following tribal specific grant program.

  • S•T•O•P Violence Against Indian Women Discretionary Grant Program is intended to develop and strengthen tribal law enforcement and prosecution efforts to combat violence against Native American women and to develop and enhance services for victims of such crimes.

Issues Affecting Federal Grant Programs for Tribal Criminal Justice Systems

According to a study funded by Office of Victims of Crime (OVC), there are a wide range of concerns that significantly impact the federal governmentís ability to effectively implement grant programs that provide funding for tribal criminal justice systems.12 These concerns include:

  • The critical issue of cultural differences must be addressed in any effort to promote a strong relationship between the tribal government and the federal government.

  • As stated previously, the crime rate, especially the violent and juvenile crime rates, has been increasing in Indian County while crime rates have declined nationwide.

  • There are numerous jurisdictional complexities and limitations in Indian Country that present overwhelming difficulties in any effort to improve the relationship between tribal governments and the federal government. The confusing jurisdiction among tribal, federal, and state governments has resulted in jurisdictional gaps and disputes.13 The difficulty of determining jurisdiction, and provisions for concurrent jurisdiction of certain cases, can cause conflict and confusion for law enforcement, prosecution, courts, service providers, and crime victims in Indian Country.

  • There is a lack of understanding and contact by the federal government with tribal criminal justice systems, including tribal court systems.

  • Tribal justice systems are inadequately funded and the lack of adequate funding impairs their operation.

  • The lack of facilities and resources available to most criminal justice systems is complicated by the isolated, rural location of most Indian reservations.

Efforts to Improve Relations Among Federal and Tribal Governments

In April 1994, during a meeting with the heads of tribal governments, former President Clinton made a commitment to improve the federal governmentís relationship with tribal governments and issued a directive to all executive departments and agencies of the federal government to:

  • operate within a government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribes;

  • consult, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, with tribal governments before taking actions that affect federally recognized tribes;

  • assess the impact of agency activities on tribal trust resources and assure that tribal interests are considered before the activities are undertaken;

  • remove procedural impediments to working directly with tribal governments on activities that affect trust property or governmental rights of the tribes; and

  • work cooperatively with other agencies to accomplish the goals established by the President.

In an effort to enhance the DOJís communication and coordination with tribal governments, in 1995 the Attorney General established the Office of Tribal Justice (OTJ). The OTJ coordinates DOJ policies and positions on Native American issues; maintains a liaison with the federally recognized tribes, and works on Native American issues with appropriate federal, state and local officials, professional associations and public interest groups.

In June 1995, the DOJ issued policy on Indian Sovereignty and Government-to-Government Relations With Indian Tribes. The policy reaffirms the DOJís recognition of the sovereign status of federally recognized tribes as domestic dependent nations, and provides guidance on Indian affairs.

Prior Reviews

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has conducted several reviews of the COPS Office and OJPís grant monitoring activities that addressed concerns related to those identified in this audit. Specifically,

  • Police Hiring and Redeployment Grants, Summary of Audit Findings and Recommendations, October 1996 - September 1998, Report No. 99-14, April 1999, found that the COPS Office did not always ensure that its grant recipients complied with critical grant requirements.

  • Management and Administration of the Community Policing Services Grant Program, Report No. 99-21, July 1999, found that the COPS Office: 1) did not always ensure that unaccepted grants funds were deobligated in a timely manner, 2) needed to improve guidance for grantees in critical areas of compliance, 3) needed to increase the level of monitoring efforts of grantee compliance with critical grant requirements; and 4) needed to improve financial controls.

  • Office of Justice Programs, State and Local Domestic Preparedness Grant Programs, Report No. 02-15, March 2002, found that grant funds were not awarded quickly and grantees were very slow to spend available monies.

  • The Office of Justice Programs Convicted Offender DNA Sample Backlog Reduction Grant Program, Report No. 02-20, May 2002, found that financial and progress reports were not always filed or were not filed in a timely manner.

  • The No Suspect Casework DNA Backlog Reduction Program, Report No. 05-02, November 2004, found that there were significant delays in drawing down grant funds for DNA backlog reduction efforts, and unallowable and unsupported costs were charged to the grants.

  • U.S. Department of Justice Annual Financial Statement, Fiscal Year 2004, Report No. 05-03, December 2004, found significant issues with OJPís overall control environment for financial reporting, and grant accounting and monitoring.

From FYs 1998 through 2003, the OIG conducted 27 audits of COPS Office and OJP grants awarded to tribal grantees.14 These audits resulted in questioned costs totaling $4.19 million and funds put to better use totaling $3.04 million, and identified weaknesses in the following areas.15

  • Unallowable and unsupported costs were charged to the grants.

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

  • Grant activities were not fully implemented.

  • Drawdowns occurred after the grant end date.

  • Grants funds awarded were not used.

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

These findings are consistent indications that the COPS Office and OJP are not effectively monitoring and administering the DOJís grants awarded to tribal governments.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has also conducted reviews of the COPS Office and OJP grant monitoring activities which are related to our audit. Although these reports were not related to any tribal specific grant programs, each addressed concerns similar those identified in our audit. Specifically,

  • Community Policing: Issues Related to the Design, Operation, and Management of the Grant Program, Report No. GAO/GGD-97-167, September 1997, found that on-site and telephone monitoring by grant managers did not systematically occur.

  • Justice Discretionary Grants: Byrne Program and Violence Against Women Office Grant Monitoring Should Be Better Documented, Report No. GAO 02-25, November 2001, found that: 1) grant monitoring plans were not always developed for each award and monitoring was not always documented, 2) progress reports were not always filed for the majority of awards reviewed, 3) financial status reports were not always filed for about half the awards reviewed, and 4) based on a limited review, grant files did not contain required closeout materials.

  • Juvenile Justice: Better Documentation of Discretionary Grant Monitoring is Needed, Report No. GAO-02-65, October 2001, found that: 1) telephone monitoring contacts were not documented for almost all awards reviewed, 2) there was no documentation supporting that on-site monitoring requirements were met for almost all awards reviewed, 3) progress reports were not always filed for the majority of awards reviewed, 4) grant manager compliance with grant monitoring requirements was not systematically reviewed by the program office, and 5) various closeout materials were missing from the grant files.

DOJ Top Management Challenges

Since 1998, the OIG has created an annual list of the top 10 management challenges for the DOJ. For the last 5 years, grant management has been identified by the OIG as one of the DOJís top management challenges. The OIG reported that grant management continues to be a challenge for the following reasons:

  • reviews continue to determine that many grantees do not submit financial and progress reports;

  • numerous deficiencies continue to be found in monitoring COPS Office grants;

  • audits found that grant funds were not always awarded quickly and grantees were slow to spend available monies; and

  • more than 375 OIG audits of COPS Office grants have resulted in significant dollar-related findings.

Audit Objectives

The OIG conducted this audit at the request of OJP to review the administration of DOJ grants awarded to tribal governments by the COPS Office, OJP, and OVW. In developing the objectives of the audit, we also considered the concerns identified in past grant audits and in the OIGís report on the DOJís top 10 management challenges. As a result, the objectives of this audit were to evaluate:

  • the adequacy of monitoring and administration of tribal-specific grant programs;

  • whether costs charged to the tribal-specific grants are allowable and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions of the grants; and

  • the effectiveness of the DOJís overall strategy for awarding grants to tribal governments.


Footnotes

  1. This statistic includes 2.5 million individuals in the United States who identify themselves as Native American, and another 1.6 million who identify themselves as part Native American.
  2. Throughout this report, the term "Native Americans" is used to indicate American Indians and Alaska Natives.
  3. BJS Special Report, Violent Victimization and Race, 1993-98, March 2001.
  4. BJS, American Indians and Crime, February 1999.
  5. U.S. Department of Justice, Fiscal Years 2003 - 2008, Strategic Plan, (DOJ Strategic Plan).
  6. Under a provision in the 2002 Justice Department reauthorization bill, enacted in October 2002, OVW became a permanent and independent office within the DOJ.
  7. See Appendix IV for a listing of other COPS Office grant programs awarded to tribal governments.
  8. The COPS Office provides grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire and train sworn officers and enhance community policing efforts.
  9. See Appendix III for a listing of the OJP bureaus, program offices, and agency-wide support offices.
  10. Under a provision in the 2002 Justice Department reauthorization bill, enacted in October 2002, OVW became a permanent and independent office within the DOJ; however, funding was not reported separately from OJP until the FY 2005 proposed budget.
  11. See Appendix V for a comprehensive listing of OJP grant programs offered to tribal governments.
  12. The Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, Improving the Relationship between Indian Nations, the Federal Government, and State Governments: Developing and Implementing Cooperative Agreements or Memorandums of Understanding, March 2000.
  13. See Appendix VI for an analysis of criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country.
  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. 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.
  16. 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.



Previous Page Back to Table of Contents Next Page