In June of this year, POGO released Getting Byrned by Justice: Favoritism in the Byrne Discretionary Grant Program. The report unearthed apparent conflicts of interest and patronage in the awarding of grants through the Department of Justice's (DOJ) fiscal year 2007 Edward Byrne Memorial Discretionary Competitive Grants Program.
While researching the Byrne Discretionary Grant Program, POGO learned that DOJ had not been publicly posting a list of grant recipients for the past few years. In light of that inexcusable lack of transparency, we recommended that DOJ begin promptly posting grant recipients on their website--a FOIA request should not be required to get a list of federal grant recipients.
POGO is pleased to announce that the FY08 grants are now posted on the DOJ website. While significant problems with the program remain, such as the return to earmarks rather than a competitive process, a little transparency will go a long way towards cleaning up a grant program that Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) described as being so "convoluted and opaque that no one can figure out how the awards were determined."
“Increased transparency is an important piece of the puzzle, but there is still a lot of work to be done to improve this grant program,” said POGO Investigator Jake Wiens.