Semiannual Report to Congress
October 1, 2005-March 31, 2006
Office of the Inspector General
OJP manages the Department's multi-faceted grant program. Since its inception in 1984, OJP has awarded more than 80,000 grants totaling more than $39 billion for a wide variety of programs to prevent and control crime. OJP has about 700 employees and is composed of 5 bureaus - BJA, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) - as well as the Community Capacity Development Office.
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, BJA awarded 29 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) to state and local governments that were subsequently affected by the hurricane. JAG funds cover additional personnel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, training, technical assistance, and information systems for criminal justice.
After the hurricane, BJA officials looked for additional funds that could be used to assist law enforcement agencies in the affected areas, and identified approximately $5 million in unobligated funds. After a review of JAG program requirements by OJP’s Office of General Counsel, it was determined that the unobligated grant funds identified by BJA could be used for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief. BJA subsequently provided 29 supplemental JAG awards to state and local governments that had existing JAGs prior to Hurricane Katrina, and awarded 4 new grants to state and local governments that previously submitted JAG applications.
The OIG’s Audit Division completed a limited scope audit of BJA, in coordination with the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency, as part of its examination of relief efforts provided by the federal government in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We assessed whether BJA followed existing internal control procedures when awarding the Hurricane Katrina disaster relief grants. We concluded that BJA, while proactive in providing additional grant funding to grantees in the Hurricane Katrina affected areas, had no assurance that funding was going to the areas of greatest need.
For future disaster relief funding, we recommended that OJP perform an assessment of potential grantees to ensure that funding is provided to those with the greatest need. OJP agreed with our recommendation.
The OIG’s Evaluation and Inspections Division reviewed the FY 2005 announcement and application review process for the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants. NIJ, under OJP’s legal and fiscal oversight, distributed $13.6 million in FY 2005 Coverdell Grants, which provide funding to state and local governments to improve the timeliness and quality of forensic science and medical examiner services and to eliminate backlogs in the analysis of forensic evidence. The OIG evaluation focused particularly on NIJ’s implementation of a requirement imposed by the Justice for All Act of 2004 that grant recipients certify that they have a process in place for independent, external investigations if allegations arise of “serious negligence or misconduct substantially affecting the integrity of the forensic results.”
Our review found that NIJ did not enforce the Act’s certification requirement. NIJ’s FY 2005 Coverdell Grant Program Announcement did not give applicants necessary guidance on what constitutes an independent external investigation or how to make the required certification. In addition, the announcement did not provide examples of external investigation certifications and did not require an applicant to name the government entity responsible for conducting independent, external investigations. NIJ was aware of the shortcomings in the announcement because of questions it received from potential applicants and concerns expressed by the OIG, but failed to correct them.
The lack of guidance in the program announcement and NIJ’s response to the applicants’ questions about the new requirement resulted in inadequate certifications. As a result, NIJ directed all 223 applicants to complete and submit a re-certification form. However, the re-certification effort again did not provide specific guidance to applicants, and the form did not require applicants to submit the information necessary to evaluate the certification. Consequently, NIJ funded 37 applications containing external investigation certifications that the OIG found were not in the form NIJ prescribed.
The OIG made three recommendations to improve the program announcement and application process. OJP concurred with one recommendation and partially concurred with the other two.
A 2001 study conducted by 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. OVC initiated the Tribal Victim Assistance Grant Program to expand and improve direct service victim assistance programs for federally recognized tribes.
The OIG’s Audit Division initiated an audit as a follow-up to our March 2005 report on the administration of grants the Department has awarded to Native American Tribal Governments. The follow-up audit evaluated four individual grantee tribal victim assistance programs and the overall effectiveness of OVC’s Tribal Victim Assistance Grant Program.
We found a wide range in the effectiveness of the four individual grantee programs audited. For example, we determined that the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe and the Lummi Indian Nation effectively implemented comprehensive victim assistance programs that bridged the gap between the criminal justice system and victims. Conversely, the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians did not effectively implement comprehensive victim assistance programs. This uneveness resulted, in part, because OVC did not incorporate adequate strategic planning into its Tribal Victim Assistance Grant Program, which was necessary to implement effective performance-based management. We also found that OVC did not establish long-term or annual program goals for its Program.
Our report concluded that OVC program officials and tribal grantees were not held accountable for performance results. There was no guidance from OVC on collecting performance information, nor was there consistency or comparability among tribal grantees in how the data was reported. We provided seven recommendations that focus on establishing annual and long-term performance goals to measure program results and resource allocation decisions.
OVC agreed with all of our recommendations.
The OIG continued to audit grants awarded by OJP. Examples of findings from these audits issued during this reporting period included the following:
During this reporting period, the OIG received seven complaints involving OJP. The most common allegation made against OJP employees, contractors, or grantees was grantee fraud. The OIG opened four investigations and referred two back to OJP management.
At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 19 open cases of alleged misconduct against OJP employees, contractors, or grantees. The most common allegation was grantee fraud. The following are examples of cases involving OJP that the OIG’s Investigations Division investigated during this reporting period:
The National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) system, comprised of 10 centers nationwide, is operated by NIJ’s Office of Science and Technology (OST). Most NLECTC activities involve anti-crime technologies used by state and local law enforcement agencies and the correctional community to respond to terrorism attacks, major accidents, natural disasters, and threats to school safety. The OIG is evaluating program oversight by NIJ and OST and the effectiveness of the individual sites and the center system as a whole. We also are reviewing NLECTC’s efforts to meet the goals set forth in the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and are examining program activity levels of the individual centers to determine if funding is adequate and how award funds are being spent.