|The Office of Justice Programs (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 (OJJDP), and Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) – as well as the Community Capacity Development Office.|
During this reporting period, the OIG continued to conduct audits of grants awarded by OJP. Examples of findings from these audits included the following:
NIJ awarded three Forensic Casework DNA Backlog Reduction Program cooperative agreements totaling more than $7.47 million to the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) in Austin, Texas. We found that the TDPS complied with grant requirements in six of the eight areas we tested. However, we found weaknesses in the areas of budget management and control and cooperative agreement expenditures. For example, TDPS authorized a major budget change of $920,700 with insufficient approval from NIJ. Further, we found unsupported expenditures resulting in questioned costs totaling $3,673. OJP agreed with our recommendations and indicated that additional coordination was required to remedy the $924,373 in total questioned costs.
Boat People S.O.S. (BPSOS) is a non-profit organization based in Falls Church, Virginia, that provides legal and social services for human trafficking victims. In January 2003, OJP awarded a 3-year, $1.89 million grant to BPSOS and its sub-grantee, Ayuda Inc. of Washington, D.C., to develop, expand, and strengthen victim services during the pre-certification period for persons who have been identified as victims of severe forms of human trafficking. The grantee also received a 1-year, no-cost extension until December 31, 2006. Our audit found that BPSOS and Ayuda spent $700,000 in grant funds either for unsupported or unallowable costs, including providing inadequate supporting documentation for local match transactions, which resulted in unsupported pro bono attorney fees of $294,575. Additionally, BPSOS did not accomplish many of its grant objectives. Our report contained 22 recommendations, of which OJP agreed with 21.
The following are examples of cases involving OJP that the OIG’s Investigations Division handled during this reporting period:
A joint investigation by the OIG’s Fraud Detection Office and the FBI resulted in the arrest of the Lawton Outreach Center Director on a charge of bank fraud. OIG investigators found that the Director falsely represented that the Board of Directors of the Lawton Outreach Center, which is an OJP grantee located in Lawton, Oklahoma, authorized her to apply for a bank loan of $22,913. The Director used office equipment purchased with OJP grant funds as collateral for the loan. When issues of the Director’s mismanagement of funds surfaced, the Lawton Weed and Seed Steering Committee, which oversees the Center, dismissed the Director and ended its relationship with the Lawton Outreach Center. Judicial proceedings continue.
An investigation by the OIG’s Fraud Detection Office led to the arrest and indictment in the Western District of Oklahoma of three OJP grantees on charges of conspiracy, theft, and aiding and abetting. In September 2002, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) awarded a $299,815 grant to the South Central Region Tribal Nations and Friends Domestic Violence Coalition to assist in its efforts to support victims of domestic violence. However, our investigation determined that the executive director of the Coalition stole over $100,000 in grant funds, and two board members of the Coalition stole approximately $25,000 and $37,000, respectively. Judicial proceedings continue.
Southwest Border Prosecution Initiative
Administered by OJP, the Southwest Border Prosecution Initiative (SWBPI) reimburses eligible jurisdictions in the four southwest border states for costs associated with the prosecution of criminal cases declined or referred by local USAOs. The OIG is auditing the effectiveness of OJP’s administration and oversight of SWBPI reimbursements, and whether SWBPI reimbursements are allowable and supported in accordance with applicable laws, rules, and regulations.
Management of the Grant Program for Human Trafficking Victims
OVC provides grants to support victim service programs for alien victims trafficked into or within the United States who require emergency services. The OIG is examining the extent to which the grant program has achieved its objective to provide effective assistance for victims of trafficking.
Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefits
The OIG is reviewing OJP’s implementation of the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefits Act of 2003, which allows payment of public safety officer survivor benefits for fatal heart attacks or strokes suffered in the line of duty. The review is determining whether OJP is processing death claims for heart attacks and strokes in a timely manner and in accordance with the intent of the Act.