Department of Justice:

Additional Actions Needed to Enhance Program Efficiency and Resource Management

GAO-13-505T: Published: Apr 10, 2013. Publicly Released: Apr 10, 2013.

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David C. Maurer
(202) 512-8777
maurerd@gao.gov

 

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What GAO Found

In July 2012, GAO reported that the Department of Justice's (DOJ) more than 200 grant programs overlapped across 10 key justice areas, and that this overlap contributed to the risk of unnecessarily duplicative grant awards for the same or similar purposes. GAO has recommended, among other steps, that DOJ conduct an assessment to better understand the extent of grant program overlap and determine if consolidation is possible. DOJ has begun taking related actions, but it is too early to assess their impact.

In February 2012, GAO reported that DOJ's Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) Program--a source of funding for law enforcement ballistic- and stab-resistant body armor--had not taken steps to deobligate about $27 million in unused funds from grant awards whose terms had ended. GAO recommended that DOJ deobligate these funds and, for example, apply the amounts to new awards or reduce requests for future budgets. DOJ officials have since deobligated $2 million and plan to deobligate the rest by the end of April 2013. DOJ officials plan to apply the funds toward fiscal year 2014 BVP grants.

In September 2012, GAO reported that DOJ and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) conducted potentially duplicative asset management activities related to the seizure and forfeiture of assets associated with federal crimes. For example, GAO reported that each agency maintains separate tracking systems for seized and forfeited property. GAO recommended that DOJ and Treasury conduct a study to determine the feasibility of consolidating their asset management activities. In March 2013, DOJ officials reported that DOJ and Treasury had agreed upon an approach to conduct the study and assess potential costs, but that meetings between the departments were still ongoing and the study had not been finalized.

In July 2012, GAO reported that annual revenues from DOJ's Assets Forfeiture Fund exceeded annual expenditures, allowing DOJ to carryover $844 million at the end of fiscal year 2011, in part to reserve funds for the next fiscal year. However, DOJ does not clearly document how it determines the amounts that need to be carried over. GAO recommended that DOJ more clearly document how it determines the carryover amounts. DOJ officials reported that they plan to provide this information, but as of March 2013, had not yet determined how to present the information.

In April 2013, GAO reported on overlap in activities and services across field-based entities operated or supported by DOJ, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy that may share terrorism-related information, among other things. GAO identified 91 instances of overlap in some analytical activities, such as disseminating information on similar issue areas, such as terrorism. GAO recommended, in part, that the federal agencies collaborate to hold the entities accountable for coordination and assess where practices that enhance coordination could be applied. DOJ generally agreed with the intent of the recommendations, but stated that DOJ has already taken steps to promote coordination. The steps, however, do not establish an accountability mechanism for monitoring coordination or assessing practices.

Why GAO Did This Study

In fiscal year 2012, DOJ's $27 billion budget funded a broad array of national security, law enforcement, and criminal justice system activities. GAO has examined a number of key programs where DOJ has sole responsibility or works with other departments and recommended actions to improve program efficiency and resource management. This statement summarizes findings and recommendations from recent GAO work in the following five areas: (1) overlap and potential duplication in DOJ grant programs; (2) DOJ's management of undisbursed funds from BVP grant awards whose terms have ended; (3) potential duplication in DOJ and Treasury asset forfeiture programs; (4) DOJ's management of asset forfeiture funds; and (5) overlap among DOJ and other federally funded field-based information sharing entities. This statement is based on prior products GAO issued from February 2012 through April 2013, along with selected updates obtained from April 2012 through April 2013. For the selected updates on DOJ's progress in implementing recommendations, GAO analyzed information provided by DOJ officials on taken and planned actions.

What GAO Recommends

GAO has made several recommendations to DOJ in prior reports to help improve program efficiency and resource management. DOJ generally concurred with these recommendations and is taking actions to address them.

For more information contact David C. Maurer, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, at (202) 512-9627 or maurerd@gao.gov.

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