Office of Justice Programs National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Centers
Audit Report 07-22
Office of the Inspector General
The Office of the Inspector General, Audit Division, has completed an audit of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Centers (NLECTC) program. Established in 1994, the program was created to provide a mechanism for facilitating the introduction of new technologies into the law enforcement community and to provide technical assistance to state and local law enforcement in implementing those technologies.1 The NLECTC program is comprised of 10 technology centers and specialty offices located throughout the country.2
The NLECTC program is managed by the Office of Justice Program’s (OJP) National Institute of Justice (NIJ), which is the research, development, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. The NIJ’s mission is to advance scientific research, development, and evaluation to enhance the administration of justice and public safety. In fiscal years (FY) 2004 and 2005, Congress allocated $33.3 million and $30.2 million, respectively, to fund NLECTC operations.
In this audit, we tested the NLECTC program’s accounting records to determine whether reimbursements claimed for award-related costs were allowable, supported, and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions of the awards. The OJP awarded NLECTC funds using cooperative agreements and interagency agreements. The mechanism used to award funds is determined by the nature of the receiving entity. Cooperative agreements, which have terms and conditions similar to grants, were used for private organizations and non‑federal agencies, while federal agencies were funded through interagency agreements, which more closely resemble a contract. We tested a sample of financial transactions at the five regional technology centers and the RULETC specialty office. We did not select sample transactions at the National Center and the OLES because, unlike the regional technology centers and the RULETC specialty center, these sites do not provide direct technical assistance to the law enforcement community. At each center, we obtained accounting records for the expenditures charged to the awards issued during the review period. From these accounting records, we judgmentally selected a minimum sample of 25 transactions at each site. We then reviewed supporting documentation to verify that the expenditures were authorized, properly classified, accurately recorded, and properly charged to the award. Our sample included expenditures for personnel, travel, consultants, contractors, other direct costs, and indirect costs.
Of $43 million in NLECTC funds expended from October 2003 through June 2005, we tested transactions totaling $2.6 million. In our testing, we noted several weaknesses, as follows:
We identified $472,069 in award-related expenditures for personnel costs and payments to contractors that were not adequately supported.
We also identified $224,936 in expenditures that we determined to be unallowable, most of which resulted from an over-billing of indirect costs for the RULETC operation.
Finally, we noted the appearance of a potential conflict of interest involving staff members at the NLECTC-Rocky Mountain operation in Denver, Colorado. Specifically, several employees had private businesses that offered the same products and services that they, as NLECTC employees, were responsible for evaluating in their role in advising local law enforcement on the use or acquisition of available technologies.
Our audit report contains three recommendations to address the weaknesses identified. Specifically, we recommended that the OJP require the NIJ to remedy the $472,069 in unsupported costs and $224,936 in unallowable costs. In addition, we recommended that NIJ program management review the activities of center staff at NLECTC-Rocky Mountain to determine whether a conflict of interest exists with regard to staff involvement in for-profit crime-mapping businesses. We discussed the results of our audit with NLECTC and NIJ officials, and their comments are included in this report, where appropriate.
As used in this context, the term “law enforcement community” refers to state and local police departments, local jails, and state correctional facilities.
The 10 sites include NLECTC-National, located in Rockville, MD, which serves as the hub for 5 regional centers: NLECTC-Northeast, located in Rome, NY; NLECTC-Northwest, located in Anchorage, AK; NLECTC-Rocky Mountain, located in Denver, CO; NLECTC-Southeast, located in North Charleston, SC; and NLECTC-West, located in El Segundo, CA. In addition, there are four specialty sites, which include the Border Research Technology Center (BRTC), located in San Diego, CA; the Office of Law Enforcement Standards (OLES), located in Gaithersburg, MD; the Office of Law Enforcement Technology Commercialization (OLETC), located in Wheeling, WV; and the Rural Law Enforcement Technology Center (RULETC), located in Hazard, KY. For the purposes of this report, the term “centers” is used in reference to all of the NLECTC components, including the six technology centers, two specialty centers, and two specialty offices.
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