Juvenile Justice Grant Reform Vowed


As the Obama administration brings changes to criminal justice programs, there remain some leftover Bush administration issues to address. Among them are grants given by Bush-era juvenile crime agency chief J. Robert Flores to organizations such as the World Golf Foundation whose proposals did not score high in peer reviews.

The Justice Department Inspector General could not determine the propriety of Flores' actions, but they won't recur, say current and former department officials. Jeffrey Sedgwick, who was Bush's assistant attorney general with authority over the juvenile program, says he required agency heads to give him written justifications for passing over any high-scoring proposals. Sedgwick also made sure that solicitations for proposals were public for at least 60 days so that insiders could not benefit from advance knowledge of grant opportunities with short intervals to apply.

Sedgwick's successor under Obama, Laurie Robinson, kept these rules in place to insure the integrity of the grantmaking process. This is especially important in these days of higher funding. Robinson says that her Office of Justice Programs now is processing 3,000 applications for competitive grants in the new federal recovery law, as many as the agency handled in an entire when she headed it back in the 1990s.

Obama's principles of “fairness, competition, and transparency” will be followed as the decisions are made on who will get the money, Robinson says. Watch for more news about which programs get federal anticrime funds. It should be noted that many of the decisions are being made at the state level and not by the Justice Department, as states get funds directly under pre-determined formulas.

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