Sneak Preview: DOJ Office Sets Policy for Tribal Facility Awards

February 17, 2017 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xsass_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the the Single Audit Information Service.) The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Justice Programs (OJP) would follow standard operating procedures to require grant recipients to demonstrate that they have sufficient funding to completely construct and operate TJSIP-funded correctional facilities if it issues awards again under the Tribal Justice Systems Infrastructure Program (TJSIP). The change developed in response to a recommendation in a recent DOJ Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit that found concerns related to program oversight.

From federal fiscal year (FY) 2009 to FY 2014, OJP awarded about $276 million in funds to support the TJSIP, which provides grants that support planning, constructing and renovating tribal justice facilities. While OJP is responsible for awarding grants for the construction portion, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is responsible for overseeing operations and maintenance at these facilities. Beginning in FY 2014, BJA stopped providing TJSIP funding for the construction of new tribal justice facilities because the current levels of funding available through BIA to operate and maintain the facilities were not sufficient.

A recent OIG audit of the program found that the coordination between OJP and BIA was not always effective, resulting in delays in the completion of TJSIP grants. In addition, awardees struggled to operate and fully staff grant-funded facilities when construction was complete. The audit further found that OJP lacked due diligence when selecting TJSIP projects, leading to: (1) the construction of large facilities that were not aligned with the tribes’ documented needs; (2) unused planning projects; (3) premature funding before adequate planning was completed; (4) conflicts of interest issues; and (5) contract management issues.

“The coordination deficiencies we found between OJP and BIA resulted in three TJSIP-funded correctional facilities that could not be opened, or could only be partially opened, due to construction flaws or operations and maintenance funding issues involving BIA,” the OIG stated. “These three facilities, which together cost nearly $22 million, remained non-operational or partially operational for over a decade after the initial awards were made, and for three or more years after the TJSIP grants were fully expended.”

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site.)

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