D.C. Criminal Justice System:

Better Coordination Needed Among Participating Agencies

GAO-01-708T: Published: May 11, 2001. Publicly Released: May 11, 2001.

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Norman J. Rabkin
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Every criminal justice system faces coordination challenges. However, the unique structure and funding of the D.C. criminal justice system, in which federal and D.C. jurisdictional boundaries and dollars are blended, creates additional challenges. The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) has played a useful role in addressing such coordination challenges, especially in areas in which agencies perceived a common interest. However, CJCC's uncertain future could leave D.C. without benefit of an independent entity for coordinating the activities of its unique criminal justice system. Funding CJCC through any participating agency diminishes its stature as an independent entity in the eyes of several CJCC member agencies, reducing their willingness to participate. Without a requirement to report successes and areas of continuing discussion and disagreement to each agency's funding source, CJCC's activities, achievements, and areas of disagreement have generally been known only to its participating agencies. This has created little incentive to coordinate for the common good, and all too often agencies have simply "agreed to disagree" without taking action. Furthermore, without a meaningful role in cataloging multiagency initiatives, CJCC has been unable to ensure that criminal justice initiatives are coordinated among all affected agencies to help eliminate duplicative efforts and maximize their effectiveness. This testimony summarizes a March 2001 report (GAO-01-187).

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