Office of Justice Programs:

Discretionary Grants Reauthorization

GGD-93-23: Published: Nov 20, 1992. Publicly Released: Dec 21, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the discretionary grant programs of four bureaus of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Office of Justice Programs (OJP), focusing on the extent to which: (1) bureaus based grant project awards on competition; (2) bureaus systematically evaluated grant programs to determine their usefulness and effectiveness; and (3) structural and management issues affected the grant programs.

GAO found that: (1) all four bureaus had a policy of competing discretionary grant programs funds when possible, but such factors as earmarks, applicant uniqueness, time constraints, project length, and fund transfers affected the extent to which individual bureaus competed grant awards; (2) the bureaus generally did not conduct systematic program evaluations, due to a lack of statutory requirements for evaluations and a lack of funding; (3) two bureaus were meeting the statutory requirements for reporting the results of evaluations required under the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Edward Byrne Grant funds; (4) funding, independence, and planning problems undermined bureaus' efforts to conduct the required Edward Byrne Grant evaluations; (5) conflicts and tensions among the bureaus, attributed to the OJP organizational structure, have affected bureau operations and their discretionary grant programs; and (6) the Attorney General exceeded his authority over OJP bureaus when he conferred certain grant-related authorities on the Assistant Attorney General for OJP, since the order conflicted with statutory provisions giving bureaus final authority over their grants and contracts.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In 1973 the Department determined that the Attorney General's authority would allow it to set major policy guidelines. The Department is examining this issue in light of the GAO report.

    Matter: Unless and until Congress changes the statutory authority granted OJP bureau directors to administer discretionary grants programs, Congress should direct the Attorney General to rescind Order 1473-91, returning the grant program authorities that the order vests in the Assistant Attorney General for OJP to the bureau directors.


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