The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Special Emphasis Program Has Not Realized Its Full Potential

GGD-82-42: Published: Apr 16, 1982. Publicly Released: Apr 16, 1982.

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GAO conducted a review to determine how efficiently and effectively the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention managed the Special Emphasis Prevention and Treatment Program under which grants and contracts can be awarded for: (1) developing and implementing new approaches, techniques, and methods with respect to juvenile delinquency programs; (2) improving the capability of public and private agencies to provide services for delinquents and other youth to help prevent delinquency; and (3) developing and implementing prevention and treatment programs relating to juveniles who commit serious crimes.

GAO found that the Office's policies and procedures primarily addressed service delivery and virtually ignored research demonstration. Service delivery programs do not need the same degree of testing and evaluation as research and development programs, because their purpose is to address a localized need and not show its effectiveness and ability for a cost-effective nationwide implementation. GAO reviewed three research demonstration initiatives totaling $31 million in grant or contract awards and found problems with the design and management of two of them. Program announcements failed to clearly establish research demonstration as the initiatives' purpose. Research was not adequately incorporated into the initiatives' development and design. Evaluation was not made an integral part of the initiatives. Technical assistance was not always delivered to grantees. In addition, the amount and type of monitoring required for the programs were not determined. The third initiative reviewed has a design which is more compatible with research demonstration conditions. However, GAO can not ensure that this will consistently occur unless it recognizes in its policies and procedures that research demonstration and service delivery programs have different objectives and need to be operated differently.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to establish policies and procedures which recognize that research demonstration and service delivery programs should be designed and managed differently. With respect to the Office's research demonstration initiatives, the Administrator of the Office should ensure that: (1) program announcements clearly establish the initiatives' purpose; (2) research demonstration initiatives are developed on the basis of research results; (3) evaluation is made an integral part of research demonstration initiatives; and (4) technical assistance is available to grantees, especially during key phases. The Administrator should also determine whether research demonstration programs should be monitored the same as service delivery programs or given closer scrutiny.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice


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