Semiannual Report to Congress
October 1, 2006-March 31, 2007
Office of the Inspector General
|OJP manages the majority of the Department’s grant programs and is responsible for developing initiatives to address crime at the state and local level. OJP has approximately 600 employees and is composed of 5 bureaus – Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Bureau of Justice Statistics, 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.|
Cooperation of SCAAP Recipients in the Removal of Criminal Aliens
As required by Congress, the OIG audited whether states and localities that receive OJP funding under the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) have fully cooperated with the DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in its effort to remove criminal aliens from the United States. SCAAP provides federal assistance to states and localities for the costs of incarcerating certain criminal aliens who are in custody based on state or local charges or convictions. In FY 2005, OJP distributed $287 million to 752 jurisdictions under SCAAP. Our audit did not disclose any instances of failure by SCAAP recipients to cooperate with ICE in the removal of criminal aliens from the United States.
Congress also directed the OIG to report on the number of criminal offenses committed by aliens unlawfully present in the United States after being apprehended by state or local law enforcement officials for a criminal offense and subsequently released without referral to ICE for removal from the United States, including aliens who were released because the state or local entity lacked space or funds for detention. The OIG sampled the criminal histories of 100 aliens who were included in SCAAP applications for FY 2004 funding. We found that 73 of the 100 individuals had more than 1 arrest.
Based on the information available to us in the criminal histories, we could not determine the number of criminal aliens in our sample who were deported and later arrested after reentering the United States. Moreover, based on our limited sample, the OIG could not statistically extrapolate the number of offenses committed by all criminal aliens who were released from local custody by SCAAP recipients without a referral to ICE. However, if this data is indicative of the full population, the rate at which released criminal aliens are rearrested is extremely high.
The National Court-Appointed Special Advocate Program
Since 1993, OJP has provided grants totaling $100 million to the National Court-Appointed Special Advocate Association (NCASAA), which provides funding for court-appointed special advocate (CASA) programs. The purpose of the CASA program is to ensure that abused and neglected children receive high-quality, sensitive, effective, and timely representation in court hearings to determine their guardianship.
As required by Congress, the OIG audited NCASAA to determine the types of activities NCASAA has funded and the outcomes in cases where CASA volunteers were involved compared to cases where CASA volunteers were not involved. Based on the available data, we found that in cases where CASA volunteers were involved:
the children spent more time in foster care;
the children and their parents were ordered by the courts to participate in more services and received more services;
the children were less likely to reenter the Child Welfare System; and
the children were more likely to be adopted and less likely to be reunified with their parents.
Although the outcomes for cases involving a CASA volunteer appear to be less favorable in some instances than cases not involving a CASA volunteer, this may be a result of the fact that cases involving a CASA volunteer are typically the most serious cases of maltreatment.
We found that OJP established outcome measures for its CASA grant programs but these measures did not address the effectiveness of the programs in meeting the needs of children in the Child Welfare System. Additionally, none of the outcome measures established by OJP addressed the outcome measures mandated for this audit.
We made two recommendations that focus on steps OJP should take to improve the CASA grant program. OJP agreed with both recommendations.
National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Centers
The National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Centers (NLECTC) program was established in 1994 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. NLECTC is managed by NIJ and comprised of 10 centers located throughout the country. In FYs 2004 and 2005, Congress allocated $33.3 million and $30.2 million, respectively, to NIJ to fund NLECTC operations.
The OIG’s Audit Division tested the NLECTC program’s accounting records by sampling $2.6 million in expenditures for personnel, travel, consultants, contractors, other direct costs, and indirect costs. Our test results identified several weaknesses, including $472,069 in grant-related expenditures that were not adequately supported. In addition, we identified $224,936 in unallowable expenditures, most of which resulted from an over-billing of indirect costs to the Rural Law Enforcement Technology Center in Hazard, Kentucky. We also identified a potential conflict of interest at the NLECTC-Rocky Mountain operation in Denver, Colorado, where several employees had private businesses that offered the same products and services that they, as NLECTC employees, were responsible for as advisers to local law enforcement.
We provided three recommendations to address the weaknesses identified in this audit. OJP agreed with our recommendations.
OJP Grants to State and Local Entities
During this reporting period, the OIG continued to audit grants awarded by OJP. Examples of findings from OIG audits issued during this period include the following:
OJP awarded a $249,352 Identity Theft Verification/Passport cooperative agreement to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Crime Victims Services Section (CVSS) to assist in its efforts to provide victims of identity theft with a means of demonstrating to law enforcement and creditors that their identity has been stolen. Our audit found that CVSS’s controls over federally reimbursed expenditures were adequate to ensure that such expenses were properly accounted for and that transactions were accurately recorded and supported. However, we found that CVSS could not support its required match of $154,657 for salary, fringe benefit, and supply costs. As a result, we questioned the total local matching costs and made four recommendations. OJP agreed with all of our recommendations.
NIJ provided a $525,815 Solving Cold Cases with DNA grant to the City of North Miami, Florida, to assist in its efforts to apply new DNA technologies to solve 22 homicide and 300 sex crime cases. Our audit determined that North Miami was accomplishing the required performance and generally complied with grant requirements. However, we found that North Miami did not maintain an accurate and timely method for reconciling grant payments to its accounting records and had mistakenly drawn down $86,020 from the fund due to an error in the automated system at OJP. We also found that North Miami had drawn down $130,352 in excess of actual expenditures as an advance of 1 year’s budgeted grant expenditures. Subsequent to the conclusion of our audit field work, North Miami took corrective action to reimburse OJP the $86,020 drawn down in error and the $130,352 drawn down in excess of actual expenditures. North Miami also took actions to correct flaws in its general ledger system. Consequently, we made no recommendations.
OJP awarded a $49.9 million grant to the City of New York Police Department (NYPD) to provide traffic control, counterterrorism intelligence, and physical security to delegates, visitors, and venues at the 2004 Republican National Convention. We determined that the NYPD generally complied with grant requirements in the areas we tested. However, the NYPD only submitted two of the five required progress reports and submitted those two reports significantly late. In addition, NYPD never submitted six of the nine required Financial Status Reports, did not maintain adequate documentation for all grant expenditures, and made errors in calculating some expenditures. The NYPD also could not provide sufficient documentation for 30 of the 408 sample employees we tested whose payroll expenditures were charged to the grant, and we found that some of the charges were unallowable. Our report contained three recommendations. OJP agreed with the recommendations.
The National Procurement Task Force
During this reporting period, the Department organized the National Procurement Fraud Task Force, which is designed to coordinate the efforts of the Department and the federal Inspectors General in promoting the prevention, detection, and prosecution of procurement fraud, including grant fraud. The mission of the Task Force is to focus federal efforts on procurement fraud, such as defective pricing, product substitution, misuse of classified and procurement sensitive information, false claims, labor mischarging, grant fraud, ethics and conflict of interest violations, and public corruption associated with procurement and grant fraud.
The OIG is chairing the Grant Fraud Committee of the Task Force, which focuses on the fraud issues that the federal government faces in awarding and overseeing grants. The Grant Fraud Committee is focusing on three areas: 1) enhancing information sharing concerning grant fraud; 2) coordinating efforts to provide training to auditors, agents, and prosecutors on detecting, investigating, and prosecuting grant fraud; and 3) conducting outreach to agency program managers and to communicate best practices on deterring and investigating grant fraud.
During this reporting period, the OIG received 10 complaints involving OJP. The most common allegation made against OJP employees, contractors, or grantees was grantee fraud. The OIG opened two investigations and referred other allegations to OJP management for review.
At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 17 open cases of alleged misconduct against OJP employees, contractors, or grantees. The following are examples of cases involving OJP that the OIG’s Investigations Division investigated during this reporting period:
A joint investigation by the OIG’s Chicago Field Office and the Chicago Regional Audit Office led to the arrest, guilty plea, and sentencing of the Executive Director of the Chicago-based nonprofit organization National Training and Information Center for theft of federal program funds. The investigation determined that the Executive Director intentionally misused OJP Technical Assistance Grants to lobby Congress for additional grant funds. The Executive Director was sentenced to 5 months’ incarceration, 5 months’ home confinement, and 24 months’ supervised release. He also was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay $46,528 in restitution. A civil False Claims Act action against the National Training and Information Center seeking $207,131 in damages continues.
A joint investigation by the OIG’s San Francisco Area Investigations and Audit Offices, along with the FBI, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) led to the arrest of the former Mayor of Fairbanks, Alaska, and his wife pursuant to a 92-count indictment charging them with theft of $450,000 in federal grant funds, conspiracy, and money laundering. The investigation developed evidence that the former Mayor and his wife misappropriated federal grant funds from OJP and HUD that were designated to operate a non-profit organization called Love Social Services Center. Instead they used the funds for personal use and to partially fund the building of their church. A trial is pending.
A joint investigation by the OIG’s Fraud Detection Office and Boston Area Office, along with the FBI, IRS’s Criminal Investigations Division, and Massachusetts State officials led to allegations that a former Director of Programs at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety violated state ethics laws by negotiating employment with a company while simultaneously awarding OJP grant funds to clients of that company. The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission filed an Order to Show Cause advising that the Commission will take disciplinary measures against the former Director of Programs unless he provides justification for his actions. The Order to Show Cause alleges that the former Director of Programs negotiated employment with a public safety consulting firm while at the same time approved nearly $1.12 million in OJP grant payments to clients of the firm. The investigation found that during his tenure as Director of Programs, he made numerous decisions affecting the award of over $10 million in OJP grant funds and directed a large portion of the funds to police departments that had a relationship with the consulting firm, which earned approximately $2 million in fees for securing these grant funds. After the Director of Programs resigned from his position with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts he accepted a position with the consulting firm.
An investigation by the OIG’s Fraud Detection Office led to the arrest and guilty plea of a civilian for theft of government program funds. The investigation found that the comptroller for the American Prosecutors Research Institute embezzled $76,464 in OJP grant funds. The comptroller accessed the grant funds by writing checks to herself and using an unauthorized debit card over the course of several years. Sentencing is pending.
Forensic Science Grants
The OIG is conducting a follow-up to its review of OJP’s Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program, which is intended to assist state and local governments in eliminating backlogs in analyzing forensic evidence and improve the quality and reliability of forensic laboratory results. The OIG is reviewing OJP’s administration of the requirement for grantees to 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” against forensic laboratories that receive Coverdell grant funds.
Management of the Grant Program for Human Trafficking Victims
The 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act enables OVC to support the development or enhancement of victim service programs for alien victims trafficked into or within the United States who require emergency services. The OIG audit is determining the extent to which the grant program has achieved its objective to provide effective assistance for victims of trafficking.
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