Effectiveness of the Office for Victims of Crime Tribal Victim Assistance Program
Audit Report 06-08
Office of the Inspector General
According to the 2000 Census, 4.1 million people,9 or 1.5 percent of the total population, identified themselves as American Indians or Alaska Natives (Native Americans).10 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 be victims of rape or sexual assault, aggravated assault, and simple assault than people of any other race in the United States.11 Another study conducted by the BJS indicated that:12
Additionally, a study funded by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) found that in order to effectively address criminal justice issues and services for victims of crime in Indian Country, it is vital that productive efforts are made to improve the relationship between Indian Nations, and the federal and state governments.
The study found that there are a wide range of concerns that significantly impact the federal government’s ability to effectively address the needs of victims of crime in Indian Country.13 Specifically, the study found that:
In an effort to address the needs of crime victims, including those in Native American communities, Congress established the OVC in 1988 through an amendment to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984. Upon its creation, the OVC became the primary agency within the Department of Justice (DOJ) responsible for enhancing the nation’s capacity to assist crime victims and provide leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice, and healing for all crime victims. To accomplish its mission, the OVC:
Funding for the OVC’s programs is provided from the Crime Victims Fund, which was established by VOCA to support victim services and training for advocates and professionals. Fund dollars are derived from criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalties, and special assessments from offenders convicted of federal crimes, and are collected by the federal courts, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. During Fiscal Years (FYs) 2000 through 2004, funding provided by the Crime Victims Fund totaled $2.91 billion.
In 1988, the OVC created the Victim Assistance in Indian County (VAIC) Discretionary Grant Program to establish, expand, and improve victim assistance services in Native American communities governed by federal criminal jurisdiction. The VAIC program was designed to address the lack of victim assistance programs and bridge the gap between criminal justice agencies and service providers. Under the VAIC program, during FYs 1999 through 2002, the OVC provided funding totaling $ 5,466,995 directly to 40 Native American communities to help them establish reservation-based victim assistance programs. In FY 2003, the OVC expanded the VAIC program to all federally recognized tribes, regardless of criminal jurisdiction, and renamed it the Tribal Victim Assistance (TVA) program. During FYs 2003 and 2004, the OVC has awarded $4,976,524 under the TVA program to 24 Native American communities throughout the United States.
Under the OVC tribal victim assistance program, applicants are required to plan and implement a 3-year program to improve the ability of Native American communities to provide direct services to crime victims.15 Generally, services provided under the OVC tribal victim assistance program include, but are not limited to the following:
The following services, activities, and costs are not generally considered direct crime-victim services, but are often considered a necessary and essential activity to ensure that quality direct services are provided. These costs may be considered for coverage under the OVC tribal victim assistance program, provided that direct services to crime victims cannot be offered without support for these expenses; the tribal grantee has no other source of support for them; and only limited amounts of program funds will be used for these purposes, including the following:
Tribal grantees are encouraged to demonstrate strategies that include collaboration with appropriate local and federal agencies involved in assisting victims. Specifically, collaboration with the following agencies is deemed essential under the OVC tribal victim assistance program: (1) the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices (USAO); (2) the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); (3) state, local, and tribal criminal justice agencies; (4) Indian Health Services; (5) child protective services; and (6) other appropriate tribal and non-tribal agencies.
To ensure compliance with the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), Public Law 103-62, grantees are required to collect and report data that measures the results of the programs implemented under the OVC tribal victim assistance program. To ensure accountability under GPRA, the OVC requires the following performance measures to be reported in the semi‑annual Categorical Assistance Progress Reports (progress reports) for its tribal victim assistance program:
In the 2005 TVA solicitation, the performance measures were changed to:
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) previously conducted an audit on the Administration of Department of Justice Grants Awarded to Native American and Alaska Native Tribal Governments, Report No. 05-18, March 2005. The prior audit found significant issues with the adequacy of grant monitoring, which is an essential management tool that ensures grant programs are implemented, objectives are achieved, and tribal grantees have expended funds properly. Additionally, the report noted that the granting agencies did not ensure that tribal grantees submitted the necessary information to assess grant implementation or to achieve the grant program objectives. Further, there was no consistency in the information provided in the required progress reports that were submitted. Specifically:
These findings are consistent indications that the OVC and other granting agencies were not effectively monitoring and administering the DOJ grants awarded to tribal governments. Additionally, the DOJ had no assurances that the objectives of its tribal-specific grant programs were being met or that expenditures of grant funds were in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions of the grants.
The DOJ OIG conducted the current audit to evaluate the effectiveness of the OVC tribal victim assistance grant program. The objective of our audit was to obtain grant performance information directly from tribal grantees and to evaluate whether grant programs were fully implemented and program objectives were achieved.
According to the DOJ Strategic Plan, implementing an effective program planning and implementation cycle is essential to performance‑based management. An effective cycle involves: (1) setting long-term performance goals and objectives; (2) translating long‑term performance goals into budgets and program plans; and (3) implementing programs, monitoring program performance, and evaluating program results, as shown in Figure 1.
Grant program effectiveness starts with overall program structure and design, incorporating adequate oversight and evaluation. We reviewed OVC documents and interviewed program officials to determine whether the OVC tribal victim assistance program had a well‑defined purpose intended to support a specific problem; and was designed to fill a unique role or unnecessarily duplicated, overlapped, or competed with other federal or non-federal programs.
For grant programs to encompass effective strategic planning, they must have:
Finally, to determine if performance information was used to manage the OVC tribal victim assistance program and improve performance, we determined whether the OVC: (1) used the reported data to inform program management, make resource decisions, and evaluate program performance; (2) held its program managers and tribal grantees accountable; (3) administered funds efficiently and obligated them in accordance with planned schedules; (4) implemented adequate oversight practices that provided sufficient knowledge of tribal grantee activities; and (5) collected tribal grantee performance data on an annual basis.
The details of the results of our audit are contained in the Findings and Recommendations section of this report. Additional information related to our audit objectives, scope, and methodology appears in Appendix II.
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