Justice Department grant process gets Waxman's attention

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is investigating how a Justice Department agency awarded grants in fiscal 2007, when most federal agencies operated with a freer hand under the yearlong earmark moratorium Democrats imposed.

Waxman wrote to Attorney General Michael Mukasey March 13 requesting a briefing no later than Friday -- and related documents by April 4 -- in response to reports that the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention awarded noncompetitive grants in fiscal 2007 to less-qualified applicants.

Citing a recent investigation by the trade publication Youth Today, Waxman noted that in fiscal 2007 the the office awarded a $500,000 grant to the World Golf Foundation, even though its application was ranked lower than 38 other bids in a review done by career Justice Department officials.

The foundation is the parent organization of The First Tee, a popular program among lawmakers with an aim to "promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf" for young people. The group received a $3 million earmark in the fiscal 2008 Defense spending bill last year, which received criticism from conservatives who argued such items demonstrate Congress should not be directing federal funds to local interests.

As the Justice grant indicates, the administration can pick similar winners and losers, and Waxman's letter is more striking because he has sworn off requesting earmarks for his district this year.

Waxman said the situation was brought to light by Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., a freshman who complained that a worthy applicant in his district was unfairly shut out of the grant-making process in fiscal 2007. An aide to Walz said his interest was piqued when OJJDP ignored a request to direct money to the National Child Protection Training Center at Winona State University, even though it ranked fourth out of more than 100 applicants in the agency's review.

The center trains social workers, teachers, nurses, police officers and others to detect and respond to signs of child abuse. The funding was dropped when the OJJDP administrator made the final decisions. Walz and other Minnesota lawmakers successfully restored about $1.2 million for the center in the fiscal 2008 omnibus appropriations bill, including $446,000 funded through OJJDP.

Much of the Youth Today investigation was focused on OJJDP Administrator Robert Flores, who it said decided to award grants to certain favored organizations regardless of how competitive bids ranked. To that end, Waxman has requested access to all communications to and from Flores regarding fiscal 2007 OJJDP grant awards, as well as broader access to all related documents about grant applicants, amounts awarded, and internal staff reviews ranking the bids.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.