Office of Justice Programs

Discretionary Grants Reauthorization Gao ID: GGD-93-23 November 20, 1992

Between 1987 and 1991, discretionary grants programs at the Office of Justice Programs--part of the Justice Department--spent about $500 million to underwrite research and demonstration projects run by public and private groups fighting crime or drug abuse. GAO reviewed the discretionary grants programs at four of the five Office of Justice Programs bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office for Victims of Crime. This report discusses (1) whether projects funded through the discretionary grants programs were awarded competitively and what proportion of each bureau's funds competed each year, (2) whether discretionary grants programs are systematically evaluated to determine which ones are useful and what works, and (3) how structural and management issues affect the discretionary grants 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.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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