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Project on Government Oversight

DOJ Grant Program: Cronyism And Favoritism Taint Process

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June 19, 2008

The Project On Government Oversight is releasing a new report, “Getting Byrned by Justice: Favoritism in the Department of Justice Byrne Discretionary Grant Program.” The report implicates the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its Office of Justice Programs (OJP) for cronyism and conflicts of interest in the awarding of federal grants.

It has previously been disclosed that another office in OJP, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), did not follow the recommendations of peer reviewers when administering their National Juvenile Justice Program Grants. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is holding a hearing on those OJJDP grants today, Thursday, June 19, 2008, 9:30 AM at 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.

POGO’s report focuses on the significantly larger FY2007 Byrne Discretionary Grant Program, which is run by OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, and has received little public scrutiny.  OJP documents obtained by POGO indicate that DOJ awarded 13 Byrne Discretionary Grants without evaluating them through the peer review process, and at least two of those grants appear to involve conflicts of interest between the grantee and DOJ appointees in the offices awarding those grants. Those grants were awarded to the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) of Ohio.

"Taxpayers should not have to worry when they pay their taxes that some appointee will treat that money like candy they can hand out to their friends,” said Danielle Brian, Executive Director of POGO.  Brian added, "When what should be a simple straightforward process becomes murky, we think its time to look more closely."

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.