D.C. Criminal Justice System:

Better Coordination Needed Among Participating Agencies

GAO-01-187: Published: Mar 30, 2001. Publicly Released: Mar 30, 2001.

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Effective coordination of the many agencies that participate in a criminal justice system is key to overall success. Although any criminal justice system faces coordination challenges, the unique structure and funding of the District of Columbia (D.C.) criminal justice system, in which federal and D.C. jurisdictional boundaries and dollars are blended, creates additional challenges. Almost every stage of D.C.'s criminal justice process presents such challenges, and participating agencies are sometimes reluctant to coordinate because the costs to implement needed changes may fall on one or more federally funded agencies, while any savings accrue to one or more D.C. funded agencies, or vice versa. The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) was established and staffed as an independent entity to improve systemwide coordination and cooperation. During its two and a half-year existence, CJCC has served as a useful, independent, discussion forum at a modest cost. It has had notable success in several areas in which agencies perceived a common interest, such as developing technology that permits greater information sharing. It has been less successful in other areas, such as papering, in which forging consensus on the need for and the parameters of change has been difficult. CJCC has achieved some successes at a modest cost and served as a useful, independent forum for discussing issues that affect multiple agencies. CJCC's future is uncertain because its funding source, the D.C. Control Board, is scheduled to disband and key CJCC officials have left.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On March 30, 2001, we issued a report entitled D.C. Criminal Justice System: Better Coordination Needed Among Participating Agencies. The report, which responded to a mandate in the fiscal year 2000 District of Columbia Appropriations Act, was addressed to the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on the District of Columbia; the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia; and the House Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on the District of Columbia. As agreed with the committees, our report (1) assessed how the structure of the D.C. criminal justice system has affected coordination, (2) assessed the mechanisms that existed to coordinate the activities of the system, and (3) described initiatives by federal and D.C. agencies for improving the operation of the D.C. criminal justice system. Additionally, we were directed to provide information on D.C. criminal justice agencies, the D.C. Revitalization Act's impact on these agencies, and the case flow processes in D.C. Our report concluded that effective coordination of the agencies was key to the overall success of the D.C. criminal justice system. Also, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) had served as a useful mechanism for addressing systemwide coordination issues; however, its success was hampered by a number of factors. Our report recommended three matters for Congressional consideration: (1) funding an independent CJCC, (2) requiring the CJCC to report annually to Congress, the Attorney General, and the D.C. Mayor on its activities and achievements, and (3) requiring that all D.C. criminal justice agencies report multiagency initiatives to CJCC. On the basis of our report, both the federal government and D.C. provided funding for the CJCC in fiscal year 2003, and the CJCC submitted its first annual report to Congress, the D.C. mayor, and the D.C. Council. According to the Executive Director, the CJCC is also currently working to become a clearinghouse for initiatives designed to improve any aspect of the D.C. criminal justice system.

    Matter: Congress should consider funding an independent CJCC--with its own director and staff--to help coordinate the operations of the D.C. criminal justice system. Congressional funding ensures that CJCC will retain its identity as an independent body with no formal organizational or funding link to any of its participating members.

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On March 30, 2001, we issued a report entitled D.C. Criminal Justice System: Better Coordination Needed Among Participating Agencies. The report, which responded to a mandate in the fiscal year 2000 District of Columbia Appropriations Act, was addressed to the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on the District of Columbia; the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia; and the House Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on the District of Columbia. As agreed with the committees, our report (1) assessed how the structure of the D.C. criminal justice system has affected coordination, (2) assessed the mechanisms that existed to coordinate the activities of the system, and (3) described initiatives by federal and D.C. agencies for improving the operation of the D.C. criminal justice system. Additionally, we were directed to provide information on D.C. criminal justice agencies, the D.C. Revitalization Act's impact on these agencies, and the case flow processes in D.C. Our report concluded that effective coordination of the agencies was key to the overall success of the D.C. criminal justice system. Also, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) had served as a useful mechanism for addressing systemwide coordination issues; however, its success was hampered by a number of factors. Our report recommended three matters for Congressional consideration: (1) funding an independent CJCC, (2) requiring the CJCC to report annually to Congress, the Attorney General, and the D.C. Mayor on its activities and achievements, and (3) requiring that all D.C. criminal justice agencies report multiagency initiatives to CJCC. On the basis of our report, both the federal government and D.C. provided funding for the CJCC in fiscal year 2003, and the CJCC submitted its first annual report to Congress, the D.C. mayor, and the D.C. Council. According to the Executive Director, the CJCC is also currently working to become a clearinghouse for initiatives designed to improve any aspect of the D.C. criminal justice system.

    Matter: Congress should consider requiring CJCC to report annually to Congress, the Attorney General, and the D.C. Mayor on its activities, achievements, and issues not yet resolved and why.

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On March 30, 2001, we issued a report entitled D.C. Criminal Justice System: Better Coordination Needed Among Participating Agencies. The report, which responded to a mandate in the fiscal year 2000 District of Columbia Appropriations Act, was addressed to the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on the District of Columbia; the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia; and the House Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on the District of Columbia. As agreed with the committees, our report (1) assessed how the structure of the D.C. criminal justice system has affected coordination, (2) assessed the mechanisms that existed to coordinate the activities of the system, and (3) described initiatives by federal and D.C. agencies for improving the operation of the D.C. criminal justice system. Additionally, we were directed to provide information on D.C. criminal justice agencies, the D.C. Revitalization Act's impact on these agencies, and the case flow processes in D.C. Our report concluded that effective coordination of the agencies was key to the overall success of the D.C. criminal justice system. Also, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) had served as a useful mechanism for addressing systemwide coordination issues; however, its success was hampered by a number of factors. Our report recommended three matters for Congressional consideration: (1) funding an independent CJCC, (2) requiring the CJCC to report annually to Congress, the Attorney General, and the D.C. Mayor on its activities and achievements, and (3) requiring that all D.C. criminal justice agencies report multiagency initiatives to CJCC. On the basis of our report, both the federal government and D.C. provided funding for the CJCC in fiscal year 2003, and the CJCC submitted its first annual report to Congress, the D.C. mayor, and the D.C. Council. According to the Executive Director, the CJCC is also currently working to become a clearinghouse for initiatives designed to improve any aspect of the D.C. criminal justice system.

    Matter: Congress should consider requiring that all D.C. criminal justice agencies report multiagency initiatives to CJCC, which would serve as a clearinghouse for criminal justice initiatives and highlight for CJCC members those initiatives that warrant further discussion and coordination. This reporting requirement could help improve interagency coordination, promote the adoptionof common goals, and help reduce redundant efforts.

 

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