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    Federal Agency: "Office of Justice Programs"

    3 publications with a total of 5 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Gretta L. Goodwin
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOJ is contributing to efforts to improve data collection and service provision to Native Americans, the Director of OVW should require grantees to report the number of human trafficking victims served using grant funding, and, as appropriate, the Native American status of those victims.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs: Violence Against Women Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: In responding to a draft of our report, DOJ agreed to require their grantees to report the number of human trafficking victims served, but did not agree to require them to track Native American status of those victims as appropriate, citing victim confidentiality and other reasons. In June 2017, following our report's publication, DOJ provided a status update, reporting that OVW already collects consolidated data on the number of American Indian and Alaska Native victims served who are victims of all crimes and it is in the process of revising grantee forms to collect information on the number of people served who are victims of sex trafficking. We continue to believe that collecting grantee information on both the number and Native American status of victims served is important and will continue to monitor implementation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOJ is contributing to efforts to improve data collection and service provision to Native Americans, the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs should direct OVC and OJJDP to require their grantees to report the number of human trafficking victims served using grant funding, and, as appropriate, the Native American status of those victims.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In responding to a draft of our report, DOJ agreed to require its grantees to report the number of human trafficking victims served, but did not agree to require them to track Native American status of those victims as appropriate, citing victim confidentiality and other reasons. In June 2017, following our report's publication, DOJ provided a status update, reporting that OJJDP human trafficking grantees will be required to report the number of human trafficking victims served, beginning with progress reports ending December 31, 2017, and that OJJDP will update applicable solicitations beginning in fiscal year 2018 to reflect this new measure. DOJ reported no new efforts from OVC, and maintained that it will not require grantees to report on the Native American status of their victims served using grant funding because of the concerns it cited initially. We continue to believe that collecting grantee information on both the number and Native American status of victims served is important and will continue to monitor implementation.
    Director: Diana C. Maurer
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To allow for more efficient use of data on missing and unidentified persons contained in the NCIC's Missing Persons and Unidentified Persons files and NamUs, the Directors of the FBI and NIJ should evaluate the feasibility of sharing certain information among authorized users, document the results of this evaluation, and incorporate, as appropriate, legally and technically feasible options for sharing the information.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs: National Institute of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In commenting on GAO's June 2016 report, DOJ disagreed with our recommendation, because DOJ believes it does not have the legal authority to fulfill the corrective action as described in the proposed recommendation. Specifically, DOJ stated that the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) does not qualify, under federal law, for access to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and is not an authorized user to receive NCIC data. Therefore, DOJ does not believe there is value in evaluating the technical feasibility of integrating these two databases. In March 2017, DOJ reiterated its position that any such sharing was prohibited by law. We understand the legal framework placed on NCIC and that it may be restricted from fully integrating with a public database. However, this statutory restriction does not preclude DOJ from exploring options to more efficiently share information within the confines of the current legal framework. Until DOJ studies whether such feasible mechanisms exist, it will be unable to make this determination, risking continued inefficiencies through fragmentation and overlap.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure the timely expenditure of VOCA grant funds and thereby limit the carryover of unexpended grant balances, minimize the need for multiple grant extensions, and strengthen OJJDP's capacity to collect and assess grantee performance information, the Assistant Attorney General for OJP should work with the Administrator of OJJDP to conduct a study to examine whether any of its administrative processes contribute to unnecessary delays in grantees' ability to expend VOCA funds within the established 12-month project period and make modifications to these processes as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs: Office of the Assistant Attorney General
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2015, we found that OJJDP had several administrative review and approval processes in place that had contributed to delays in grantees' ability to begin spending their award funds. For instance, grantees could not access their funds until OJJDP had completed its internal review of grantees' budgets--a step that had taken more than 2 months, on average, after the grantees' project period had begun. We recommended that OJP examine its processes and, if appropriate, make modifications to prevent unnecessary delays in grantees' ability to expend VOCA funds within the established project period. In March 2017, OJP reported that its Office of Audit, Assessment and Management (OAAM), worked with OJJDP to complete an assessment to determine the impact of administrative processes on VOCA awards. Focusing on VOCA grants awarded in fiscal years 2010 through 2015, OAAM assessed a number of factors, including (1) the average timeframe for approval of budget reviews; (2) the average timeframe for approval of conference cost requests, and (3) the number of no-cost extensions granted. OJP reported that OAAM continues to work with OJJDP to review documentation to support implementation of process improvements to address the issues the assessment identified. OAAM anticipates issuing a report by March 31, 2017 to OJP's Acting Assistant Attorney General to summarize the results of the assessment and provide updates on the process improvements OJJDP has begun to implement. Examining the delays associated with its administrative review processes and making modifications as necessary will help OJP ensure the effective administration and timely use of grant funds.
    Recommendation: To ensure the timely expenditure of VOCA grant funds and thereby limit the carryover of unexpended grant balances, minimize the need for multiple grant extensions, and strengthen OJJDP's capacity to collect and assess grantee performance information, the Assistant Attorney General for OJP should work with the Administrator of OJJDP to, considering the results of this study, examine whether the current 12-month project period is realistic in light of any administrative processes that cause delay but cannot be modified and extend the project period if necessary.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs: Office of the Assistant Attorney General
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2015, we found that VOCA grant activities were not being completed within the time parameters OJJDP established for the grant program, and that this may affect the ability of grantees to complete their grant goals and objectives. Specifically, we found that for the 28 VOCA grants that OJJDP awarded from fiscal years 2010 through 2013, grantees had expended less than 20 percent, on average, of each grant they received during the original 12-month project period. In particular, we found that OJJDP's processes for reviewing grantees' budgets and conference planning requests were contributing to delays in grantees' ability to begin spending their funds. We recommended that OJP examine whether 12 months is an appropriate project period length to ensure that VOCA grantees are well positioned to fully expend their grant funds. In March 2017, OJP reported that its Office of Audit, Assessment and Management (OAAM), worked with OJJDP to complete an assessment to determine the impact of administrative processes on VOCA awards. Focusing on VOCA grants awarded in fiscal years 2010 through 2015, OAAM assessed a number of factors, including (1) the average timeframe for approval of budget reviews; (2) the average timeframe for approval of conference cost requests, and (3) the number of no-cost extensions granted. OJP reported that OAAM continues to work with OJJDP to review documentation to support implementation of process improvements to address the issues the assessment identified. OAAM anticipates issuing a report by March 31, 2017 to OJP's Acting Assistant Attorney General to summarize the results of the assessment and provide updates on the process improvements OJJDP has begun to implement. Once OJJDP examines its administrative delays, makes any necessary changes, and reviews the original project period length, OJP will be better positioned to ensure that grantees have an appropriate period in which to expend VOCA grant awards.