Justice and Law Enforcement:
Information About Essex-Newark Legal Services Project, Inc., NJ
HRD-83-23, Dec 23, 1982
GAO was asked to survey a legal services project in connection with allegations of mismanagement. Because of the personal nature of the allegations, GAO did not report on the specific allegations, but presented a summary of the problems that have confronted the project and the actions taken or planned to address them.
During the past few years, the project has been beset by recurring conflicts between its management and staff. The consolidation and relocation of the project's operations have limited the service of clients and created morale problems. In addition, the project suffered a union strike which left it operating without a contract for a year. Problems associated with the operations of the project's board of trustees prevented it from providing consistent, positive leadership. Furthermore, an independent audit report disclosed many deficiencies in the project's accounting systems, including the lack of a procedures manual and property improperly accounted for. In response to the GAO survey, the project has undertaken various corrective actions. Significant improvements have been made in the project's internal accounting controls, and the lack of a procedures manual and poor property accounting are being corrected. The project has also made significant improvements in its management system.