Review of the Office of Justice Programsí Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program

Evaluation and Inspections Report I-2006-002
December 2005
Office of the Inspector General


Purpose, Scope, and Methodology


Purpose

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) evaluated NIJ’s implementation of the requirement in the Justice for All Act of 2004 that Coverdell Grant applicants must certify that a government entity exists and an appropriate process is in place to conduct independent external investigations into allegations of serious negligence or misconduct. NIJ refers to this requirement as the “external investigation certification.”

Scope

The scope of this report is the development of the FY 2005 Coverdell Grant Program Announcement and the application review process. The report focuses specifically on the external investigation certification requirement of the Justice for All Act of 2004.

Methodology

Interviews. We interviewed the former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, the OJP General Counsel and two attorneys in the Office of the General Counsel who provided oversight and advice during the FY 2005 Coverdell Grant application process. We interviewed three representatives of the OJP’s Office of the Comptroller who reviewed Coverdell Grant applications. We also interviewed the NIJ Director and the managers responsible for the announcement and application review process. We interviewed representatives from the Innocence Project regarding the announcement and application review process.

Document review. We reviewed NIJ and OJP documents, including various NIJ grant announcements; NIJ’s Guidelines: How to Submit Applications; the OJP Financial Guide 2005; the OJP Post-Award Instructions; relevant statutes and regulations; congressional testimony; articles and reports on problems identified with forensic laboratories; and information contained on NIJ’s web site. We also reviewed NIJ and OJP e-mails, letters, and memoranda documenting the development of the FY 2005 Coverdell Grant Program Announcement, including questions applicants asked NIJ about the external investigation certification requirement. To evaluate the certifications, we reviewed the FY 2005 Coverdell Grant Program Announcement and all 223 applications submitted in response to the announcement.



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