Juvenile Justice:

Better Documentation of Discretionary Grant Monitoring Is Needed

GAO-02-65: Published: Oct 10, 2001. Publicly Released: Nov 29, 2001.

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The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) provides block grants and discretionary funding to help states and communities prevent juvenile delinquency and improve their juvenile justice systems. OJJDP has specific program monitoring and documentation requirements for its discretionary grants. These monitoring requirements include having the grant manager make quarterly telephone calls, undertake on- and off-site grant monitoring visits, and review interim and final products. In a review of OJJDP's most recent award of grants active in fiscal years 1999 and 2000, GAO found that OJJDP's grant monitoring activities were not consistently documented. These findings are similar to those GAO reported in May 1996.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In a response from the Office of Justice programs on December 20, 2001, it stated that the Attorney General accepted the recommendation and that the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) conducted an internal assessment of its monitoring activities. As a result of the assessment, OJJDP developed a Manual containing standards for grant administration and grant monitoring, protocols for adhering to the standards, and tools for grant administration and monitoring, which expands on the guidelines included in the OJP Grant Management Policies and Procedures Manual. Grant Managers are responsible for complying with these policies, procedures, and protocols.

    Recommendation: To facilitate and improve the management of program grant monitoring, the Attorney General should direct the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), as part of its ongoing review of monitoring policies and practices, to determine whether the monitoring documentation problems that GAO identified were an indication of grant monitoring requirements not being met or of a failure to document activities in the official grant files that did, in fact, take place.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Assistant Attorney General responded that OJJDP had assessed the status of its monitoring activities and documentation, reviewed how staff implemented monitoring policies and procedures, and examined where additional policies and procedures were needed to address grant administration, monitoring and close-out. As a result, OJJDP, in April 2002, published a new policies and procedures manual for grant administration and monitoring that was based on standard guidelines published by OJJDP's parent organization, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). The manual outlined OJP's process and OJJDP's standards, including required internal controls and time-frames, for various steps of the grant administration and monitoring process. It also clearly stated that grant managers are responsible for complying with OJP and OJJDP policies, procedures, and protocols.

    Recommendation: If monitoring requirements are not being met, the Attorney General should direct OJJDP to determine why this is so and to consider those reasons as it develops solutions for improving compliance with the requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Assistant Attorney General responded that OJJDP had assessed the status of its monitoring activities and documentation, reviewed how staff implemented monitoring policies and procedures, and examined where additional policies and procedures were needed to address grant administration, monitoring and close-out. As a result, OJJDP, in April 2002, published a new policies and procedures manual for grant administration and monitoring that was based on standard guidelines published by OJJDP's parent organization, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). The manual outlined OJP's process and OJJDP's standards, including required internal controls and time-frames, for various steps of the grant administration and monitoring process. It also clearly stated that grant managers are responsible for complying with OJP and OJJDP policies, procedures, and protocols. Among other things, the manual includes a checklist for desk monitoring and a template for a site visit post trip report that requires supervisory review and approval. Also, OJPDP supevisory performance work plans outline expectations reqarding oversight of grant manager monitoring activites. Likewise, grant manager performance work plans include expectations about monitoring activities and grantee follow-up, as well as expectations regarding steps to take if grantee progress and financial reports are late.

    Recommendation: If it is determined that required monitoring is taking place but is not being documented, the Attorney General should direct OJJDP to develop and enforce clear expectations regarding monitoring requirements. This policy should, among other things, require supervisory review to ensure that monitoring activities are being carried out and documented as prescribed. Further, grant managers' performance work plans should include clear expectations and accountability for monitoring called for in grant managers' monitoring plans as well as follow-up requirements to notify and assist grantees who consistently submit late or no progress or financial reports.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

 

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