Report Questions Oversight of Federal Grant Program
A federal grant program established to aid state and local law enforcement officials in the fight against the production, distribution and use of methamphetamine has "significant deficiencies," Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine, said in a report released Thursday, the Washington Times reports. In the past eight years, DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Service has received more than $200 million from Congress for grants to law enforcement agencies working to combat meth.
In his report, Fine raised concerns about how the grants were monitored and how individual recipients used the money (Seper, Washington Times, 3/24).
According to the AP/Arizona Daily Star, the report said most of the grant funding was earmarked by federal lawmakers for favored projects in their districts, while some districts with significant meth problems did not receive their share.
As an example, Fine noted that Missouri ranked second behind California in meth lab seizures, seizing 11,859 meth labs between 1998 and 2004. However, it was 10th in grants received, with $3.7 million. The report also cited a police department in Sioux City, Iowa, that was given $10 million of the grant money and used it for a training program that was not focused on meth or any illegal substance (AP/Arizona Daily Star, 3/24).
Fine also noted that most funding recipients never received onsite visits. "[W]e identified a lack of coordination between officials in the COPS office, weaknesses in the database that COPS uses to manage and track grants, and insufficient and inconsistent monitoring of grantees," Fine wrote.
He recommended 17 steps the COPS office should take to improve the initiative, including implementing procedures for the administration and oversight of grant recipients and conducting an evaluation of the effectiveness of the program as a whole. COPS officials agreed with the recommendations and have taken steps to address Fine's concerns, the report said (Washington Times, 3/24).