Review of the Office of Justice Programsí Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program

Evaluation and Inspections Report I-2008-001
January 2008
Office of the Inspector General

Purpose, Scope, and Methodology of the OIG Review


The purpose of this review was to evaluate whether OJP’s administration of the Coverdell Program external investigation certification requirement was effective in ensuring that allegations of serious negligence or misconduct are subject to independent external investigations.


The scope of this review was OJP’s administration of the FY 2006 external investigation certification requirement.


Document Review. The OIG reviewed the FY 2006 Coverdell Program Announcement and the external investigation certifications submitted by the 87 FY 2006 grantees.9 The 87 grantees submitted a total of 118 certifications. Some grantees submitted a single certification, which applied to the grantee and its sub-grantees; other grantees submitted multiple certifications for themselves and each of their sub-grantees; and one grantee did not submit a certification.

Interviews. To obtain the names of the government entities certified, the OIG conducted telephone interviews with the 118 officials who signed the external investigation certifications.10 The OIG also interviewed a representative from the one grantee that did not submit a certification.11

These 119 officials identified 233 government entities in response to the external investigation certification requirement. To assess whether these government entities had the authority, a process in place, and the capabilities and resources to conduct independent external investigations into allegations of negligence or misconduct committed by the forensic laboratories that received Coverdell Program funds, the OIG conducted telephone interviews with representatives from 231 government entities. We spoke either with the entity representative that was identified by name by the certifying official or, in cases where the certifying official did not have a specific point of contact, we called the entity and asked to be directed to the person responsible for investigating allegations of negligence or misconduct in the forensic laboratories that received Coverdell Program funds. The OIG was able to reach representatives from all but two entities.

Within the Department of Justice, the OIG interviewed the Coverdell Program Manager at NIJ, the Acting Chief of the Investigative and Forensic Sciences Division in NIJ, the Deputy Director of the Office of Science and Technology in NIJ, the Acting Principal Deputy Director of NIJ, the General Counsel for OJP, and the OJP Office of General Counsel attorney assigned to the Coverdell Program. The OIG also interviewed the NIJ Acting Principal Deputy Director regarding his role and responsibilities as an OJP Deputy Assistant Attorney General in FY 2006.

  1. OJP awarded 88 Coverdell Program grants in FY 2006, but one of those grants was in response to an FY 2005 application. Therefore, the OIG excluded it from this review.

  2. If a certifying official was no longer in office or did not know if a government entity existed, the OIG interviewed the agency representative who was most familiar with the Coverdell Program and the external investigation certification.

  3. Although OJP awarded this grant, at the time of the interview, the grantee had not yet received funds and would not receive funds until it submitted the external investigation certification.

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