Victims of Crime Act Grants:

Better Reporting Needed for Compensation and Assistance Programs

GGD-92-2: Published: Oct 23, 1991. Publicly Released: Nov 22, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Justice's (DOJ) implementation of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) victim compensation and victim assistance grant programs, administered by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), which provide federal monetary compensation and support services to victims and families of victims of violent crime, focusing on: (1) whether the grants are meeting legislative objectives; and (2) the procedures in place for administering those programs and evaluating program results.

GAO found that: (1) a sample of 474 approved or denied victim compensation claims showed that the 4 states reviewed complied with VOCA objectives when they compensated victims for medical expenses, lost wages, and funeral expenses; (2) a sample of 417 approved or denied subgrantee applications for the victims assistance program showed that the 4 states generally complied with VOCA objectives when awarding funds to public and nonprofit service providers; (3) in administering the victim compensation and victim assistance grant programs, VOCA and OVC guidelines allow states to be flexible in how the programs are implemented; (4) although the four states had differing compensation program administration structures, eligibility criteria, compensation limits, assistance program administrative structures and grantee funding determinants, such differences did not appear to affect the states' compliance with VOCA objectives; (5) OVC could not determine and report on the effectiveness of VOCA-supported activities, since it used inaccurate and inconsistent state performance reports in preparing its 1988 legislatively required biennial report of program effectiveness to the President and Congress; and (6) although OVC program guidelines required that states allocate at least 10 percent of their assistance to each of 3 VOCA-designated priority areas, OVC had no assurance that those funds were being spent as required.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOJ monitored data collected on new forms for a few years and concluded that previous problems with inaccurate and inconsistent data have been corrected.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should require the Director, OVC, to ensure that the revised state performance reporting format has eliminated the problem of inaccurate and inconsistent data.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOJ is prohibited by OMB from collecting detailed financial reports on state line item expenditures. To monitor VOCA expenditures in the four priority areas, DOJ conducts periodic on-site inspections that examine state files and subgrant budget information. If grantees are not meeting requirements, DOJ intensifies monitoring, offers technical assistance, and places special conditions on grantees.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should require the Director, OVC, to require states to document and report VOCA funds expended in the four priority areas.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

 

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