oversight

U.S. Attorneys: Controls Over Grant-Related Activities Should Be Enhanced

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-06-10.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

             United States General Accounting Office

GAO          Report to Congressional Requesters




June 2003
             U.S. ATTORNEYS
             Controls Over
             Grant-Related
             Activities Should Be
             Enhanced




GAO-03-733
             a
                                               June 2003


                                               U.S. ATTORNEYS

                                               Controls Over Grant-Related Activities
Highlights of GAO-03-733, a report to          Should Be Enhanced
Congressional Requesters




Ninety-three U.S. Attorneys serve              U.S. Attorneys’ grant activities are guided by legal and ethical
94 judicial districts (the same U.S.           considerations. General guidelines established by the Attorney General in
Attorney serves the District of                1994 and revised in 2001 outline how U.S. Attorneys and their staff can be
Guam and the District of the                   involved in their community’s crime prevention and control efforts,
Northern Mariana Islands) under                including DOJ grant activities. Last year, DOJ issued guidance in response to
the direction of the Attorney
General. Among other things, the
                                               U.S. Attorneys’ questions about their role in relation to two DOJ grant
Attorney General expects U.S.                  programs—Project Safe Neighborhoods and Weed and Seed. In addition,
Attorneys to lead or be involved               through its Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA), DOJ provided
with the community in preventing               training on ethical considerations in dealing with grant applicants and
and controlling crime including                grantees under both grant programs.
efforts to secure Department of
Justice (DOJ) grant funds and work             Although EOUSA has an evaluation program to assess and oversee the
with grantees.                                 overall operations of each U.S. Attorney’s Office, the evaluations are not
                                               designed to assess whether U.S. Attorneys and their staffs are following the
This report provides information               recently established guidelines. Without a mechanism to make this
about the guidance U.S. Attorneys              assessment, EOUSA does not have assurance that DOJ guidance
are given in carrying out their
responsibilities with regard to DOJ
grants. It makes recommendations               •   is adequately understood,
to assess compliance with guidance
and to reduce the potential for                •   has reached all those who are covered by it, and
conflicts of interest.
                                               •   is correctly applied.

                                               In addition, federal regulations and procedures call for systematic financial
GAO recommends that the Director               disclosure reporting to facilitate the review of possible conflicts of interest
of the Executive Office for U.S.               and ensure the efficient and honest operation of the government. However,
Attorneys take steps to further                while GAO did not identify any incidences of conflicts of interest, certain
mitigate the risk associated with
                                               individuals—staff in U.S. Attorneys Offices that work with grantees and
U.S. Attorney involvement in grant
activities by (1) assessing and                nonfederal members of committees that are appointed by each U.S. Attorney
overseeing compliance with the                 to, among other things, assess the merits of grant proposals—are not
DOJ guidance and (2) requiring                 required to disclose whether they are free from actual or apparent conflicts
staff that work on grant-related               of interest. Based on the merits of GAO’s work, DOJ officials stated that
matters to certify they are free               they would issue a directive to require members of these committees to sign
from conflicts of interest.                    a self-certified conflict of interest statement that is to be held on file subject
                                               to DOJ grant monitoring.
DOJ reviewed a draft of this report
and had no comments.




www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-733.

To view the full report, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact Paul L. Jones
at (202) 512-8777 or jonespl@gao.gov.
Contents


Letter                                                                                                  1
             Results in Brief                                                                          3
             Background                                                                                4
             DOJ Guidelines Covering U.S. Attorneys’ Grant Activities                                  7
             DOJ Has Not Established Oversight Mechanisms to Assess and
               Ensure Compliance with Recent Guidelines                                                10
             Conclusions                                                                               17
             Recommendations                                                                           18
             Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                                        18

Appendix I   Summary of Guidelines Issued for U.S. Attorneys
             Regarding Grants Awarded under the PSN and
             Weed and Seed Programs                                                                    19
             PSN Grants                                                                                19
             Weed and Seed Grants                                                                      20




             Abbreviations

             BJA               Bureau of Justice Assistance
             DOJ               Department of Justice
             EARS              Evaluation and Review Staff
             EOUSA             Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys
             EOWS              Executive Office for Weed and Seed
             LECC              Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee
             OIG               Office of Inspector General
             OJP               Office of Justice Programs
             PSN               Project Safe Neighborhoods


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             Page i                                        GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   June 10, 2003

                                   The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
                                   Chairman
                                   The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
                                   Ranking Minority Member
                                   Committee on the Judiciary
                                   House of Representatives

                                   The Honorable Chris Cannon
                                   Chairman
                                   The Honorable Melvin Watt
                                   Ranking Minority Member
                                   Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law
                                   Committee on the Judiciary
                                   House of Representatives

                                   U.S. Attorneys are appointed by the President of the United States, with
                                   advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. Under the direction of the Attorney
                                   General, each of the 93 U.S. Attorneys is the chief federal law enforcement
                                   officer of the United States within his or her particular jurisdiction. During
                                   fiscal year 2002, the Department of Justice (DOJ) spent about $1.5 billion
                                   on its 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices to prosecute individuals charged with
                                   violations of federal criminal law, represent the government in civil cases,
                                   and collect money and property owed to the government.1 In addition, U.S.
                                   Attorneys Offices were involved in initiatives to prevent and control crime
                                   in their communities, including some supported by DOJ grant funds.

                                   This report responds to your request that we provide information on U.S.
                                   Attorneys involvement in DOJ grant programs. To address your request,
                                   we are reporting on (1) guidance available to U.S. Attorneys and their
                                   offices in carrying out their responsibilities with regard to DOJ grants and
                                   (2) oversight of those responsibilities by DOJ. To meet our objectives, we
                                   interviewed officials with the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys
                                   (EOUSA) and Office of Justice Programs (OJP) in Washington, D.C. and
                                   obtained and reviewed information about the guidance available to and



                                   1
                                    A total of 93 U.S. Attorneys serve 94 districts—the same U.S. Attorney serves the District
                                   of Guam and the District of the Northern Mariana Islands.



                                   Page 1                                         GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
the oversight of U.S. Attorneys Offices in regard to DOJ grant programs.
As agreed with your staff, we also visited 10 of the 94 U.S. Attorneys
Offices and interviewed U.S. Attorneys and their staffs in each office.2 We
performed our work from December 2001 to May 2003 in accordance with
generally accepted government auditing standards.

U.S. Attorneys Offices carry out their grant-related responsibilities related
to two DOJ programs—Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) and the Weed
and Seed Program (Weed and Seed). PSN is a multiyear commitment,
initiated by the President and the Attorney General in fiscal year 2001, to
take a comprehensive strategic approach to the enforcement of firearms
laws. To implement this strategy, the Attorney General required each of
the 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices to support, promote, and implement a
comprehensive gun violence reduction program within each local district,
working in partnership with communities and state and local law
enforcement agencies. Under PSN, DOJ’s OJP awards grant funds to
organizations that work with PSN task forces, in coordination with the
U.S. Attorneys Office, to provide support for community outreach, crime
analysis, development of promising gun violence reduction programs, and
juvenile-related firearm reduction programs. Grants are awarded based on
input from the U.S. Attorney and a community based grant selection
committee, which is comprised of nonfederal law enforcement and
community leaders that are appointed by the U.S. Attorney. OJP’s Bureau
of Justice Assistance (BJA) administers the grants awarded to support
PSN, including monitoring grants once they have been awarded. In fiscal
year 2002, DOJ awarded about $65 million for grants to support PSN task
forces. DOJ also expects to award about $60 million in fiscal year 2003 and
again in fiscal year 2004 to support PSN task forces.3

Weed and Seed is a community based, multiagency program, initiated in
fiscal year 1991, to “weed out” crime from targeted neighborhoods, then
“seed” the site with a variety of programs and resources to prevent crime
from recurring. Weed and Seed sites are provided grants, technical
assistance, and training to implement programs that will help them deal



2
 We visited the Districts of Delaware, Nebraska, Nevada, and South Carolina, and the
Southern District of Indiana; the Western District of Washington; the Central District of
California; the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; the Western District of Texas; and the
Eastern District of Virginia.
3
 PSN funds are also used to fund other PSN grant and nongrant activities that do not
directly involve support of PSN Task Forces, in coordination with U.S. Attorneys Offices.




Page 2                                         GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
                   with serious crime in their communities. Under the guidance of the U.S.
                   Attorney, federal, state, and local officials work together at each site to
                   (1) implement activities designed to reduce drug crimes, gangs, and other
                   violent crimes in high crime neighborhoods and (2) revitalize those areas
                   by implementing a range of human service programs and economic
                   development to keep crimes from recurring. OJP’s Executive Office for
                   Weed and Seed (EOWS) has overall responsibility for the Weed and Seed
                   Program, including establishing policy and monitoring Weed and Seed
                   grants. In fiscal year 2003, DOJ expects to award about $53.9 million for
                   grants under the Weed and Seed Program.


                   Guidelines established by the Attorney General in January 2001 encourage
Results in Brief   U.S. Attorneys to participate in community crime prevention activities—
                   including those supported by DOJ grants—through the “establishment of
                   coalitions with the community and law enforcement as well as strong and
                   real working relationships with other public and private entities.” In so
                   doing, the guidelines call for U.S. Attorneys and their staff to remain
                   impartial and to avoid even the appearance of an involvement with parties
                   and activities that could bring them into conflict with their official duties.
                   Last year, DOJ published guidelines for U.S. Attorneys Offices that
                   specifically focus on their role in PSN and Weed and Seed. In May and
                   December 2002, DOJ issued guidelines for U.S. Attorneys Offices and PSN
                   task forces that describe the process they were to follow in securing grant
                   funds. Among other things, the guidelines provided U.S. Attorneys Offices
                   with step-by-step instructions for working with communities to solicit,
                   review, and select proposals for specific PSN grants, including guidance
                   on related ethics issues. Also, in December 2002, EOUSA issued guidance
                   that discussed, among other things, what U.S. Attorneys Offices are to do
                   when working with local community organizations that are seeking and
                   administering Weed and Seed grant funds. According to EOUSA officials,
                   the decision to issue guidance was not prompted by any particular
                   incident; rather, the guidelines resulted from questions U.S. Attorneys and
                   their staff raised concerning their roles and responsibilities under the
                   programs. EOUSA has also provided training on ethical considerations in
                   dealing with grant applicants and grantees under both programs and have
                   developed a video that discusses various aspects of the PSN grant
                   application process, including the ethical considerations facing each U.S.
                   Attorneys Office as they deal with PSN grants.

                   An effective internal control process is one that provides management
                   with a reasonable level of assurance that agency operating, financial, and
                   compliance objectives are being systematically achieved. DOJ components


                   Page 3                                 GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
             have not established oversight mechanisms to assess and ensure
             compliance with the PSN and Weed and Seed guidelines they issued last
             year. Although EOUSA has an evaluation program to assess and oversee
             the overall operations of each U.S. Attorneys Office—including operations
             associated with the management of the PSN and Weed and Seed
             Programs—the evaluations are not designed to assess whether U.S.
             Attorneys and their staffs are following the guidance recently established.
             Federal regulations and procedures also call for systematic financial
             disclosure reporting to, among other things, facilitate the review of
             possible conflicts of interest to guarantee the efficient and honest
             operation of the government. However, EOUSA and BJA have not
             established a reporting mechanism for employees of U.S. Attorneys
             Offices that work with grantees and nonfederal appointees to PSN grant
             selection committees to provide management assurance that these
             individuals are free from actual or apparent conflicts of interest. EOUSA
             officials acknowledged that U.S. Attorneys’ Offices staff could face
             possible conflicts in their dealings with grantees and said they would
             consider ways in which staff could periodically report on any personal,
             financial, or business relationships they might have involving nonfederal
             individuals or organizations. Likewise, based on our work, BJA officials
             said that they would issue a directive that requires selection committee
             appointees to submit a signed self-certified conflict of interest statement
             that will be kept on file for oversight by BJA grant monitors.

             We are recommending that the Attorney General instruct the Director of
             EOUSA and U.S. Attorneys to take steps to (1) assess and oversee
             compliance with PSN and Weed and Seed guidelines and (2) require
             financial disclosure reporting for U.S. Attorneys’ staff that work with
             community organizations on grant-related matters.

             We provided a draft of this report to the Attorney General for comment.
             DOJ did not have any comments on this report.


             U. S. Attorneys serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction
Background   of the Attorney General. U.S. Attorneys conduct most of the trial work in
             which the United States is a party. Under Title 28 U.S.C. 547, U.S.
             Attorneys have three statutory responsibilities:

             •   prosecute criminal cases brought by the federal government




             Page 4                                 GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
      •   prosecute and defend civil cases in which the United States is a party,
          and

      •   collect debts owed the federal government that are administratively
          uncollectible.

      EOUSA was established to provide a liaison between DOJ in Washington,
      D.C., and the 93 U.S. Attorneys. EOUSA provides each U.S. Attorney and
      the 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices general executive assistance and direction,
      policy development, administrative management and oversight,
      operational support, and coordination with other components of DOJ and
      other federal agencies. In fiscal year 2002, U.S. Attorneys’, and EOUSA’s
      budgets were about $1.5 billion and $64.6 million, respectively.


OJP   OJP, the grant making arm of DOJ, provides grants to various
      organizations, including state and local governments, universities, and
      private foundations, that are intended to develop the nation’s capacity to
      prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist crime victims.
      OJP’s Assistant Attorney General is responsible for overall management
      and oversight of OJP through setting policy and for ensuring that OJP
      policies and programs reflect the priorities of the President, the Attorney
      General, and the Congress. The Assistant Attorney General promotes
      coordination among the various bureaus and offices within OJP.4 Staff of
      the bureaus and program offices develop OJP grant programs, accept and
      review applications, make grant awards, and manage and monitor grantees
      until the award is closed out. In fiscal year 2002, OJP’s budget was about
      $4.3 billion.

      According to OJP and EOUSA officials, U.S. Attorneys and their staff
      currently are involved in two DOJ programs involving OJP grants—PSN
      and Weed and Seed. As mentioned earlier, BJA is responsible for national
      administration and management of grants awarded under the PSN
      initiative. PSN, which was initiated in fiscal year 2001 by the President and
      the Attorney General, was designed to commit more than $900 million over
      a 3-year period to hire new federal and state prosecutors, support



      4
       OJP’s bureaus and program offices are Bureau of Justice Assistance, Bureau of Justice
      Statistics, National Institute of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
      Prevention, Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Police Corps and Law Enforcement
      Education, and Community Capacity Development Office (including the Executive Office
      for Weed and Seed).




      Page 5                                      GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
investigators, provide training, and develop and promote community
outreach efforts all with the goal of focusing community attention and
energy on reducing gun violence.5 Under the program, U.S. Attorneys were
to take the lead in mobilizing federal, state, and local officials in their
districts by establishing PSN task forces to develop comprehensive gun
violence reduction strategies or review and enhance existing strategies.
PSN task forces are to implement these strategies, in part, through the use
of various OJP grants awarded in each U.S. Attorney’s district. These OJP
grants are the (1) Research Partner/Crime Analyst Grants to support the
strategic planning and accountability portion of PSN, (2) Media Outreach
and Community Engagement Grants to help task forces in their
community outreach initiatives, (3) Project Sentry Grants to help task
forces address local juvenile related gun crimes, and (4) Open Solicitation
Grants to support comprehensive and innovative approaches to reduce
gun violence in local communities.

EOWS is responsible for providing national leadership as well as
management and administration of the Weed and Seed Program, which in
fiscal year 2002 had a budget of about $59 million. Under the program, U.S.
Attorneys are to serve as both the main contact to Weed and Seed sites for
EOWS and as facilitator of the program’s community based coordination
efforts. Accordingly, U.S. Attorneys are to work with local stakeholders to
develop and implement a community based, multiagency strategy that
proposes to “weed out” crime from targeted neighborhoods, then “seed”
the site with a variety of programs and resources to prevent crime from
recurring.6 In fiscal year 2002, there were about 229 Weed and Seed sites
and the average grant awarded per site was about $200,000.




5
 Under P.L. 106-553 EOUSA allocated 163 new positions, 113 of which were for attorneys to
prosecute firearms violations in 62 of the 94 judicial districts to support PSN. In addition, in
February 2002, the Attorney General assigned a new prosecutor to 93 of the 94 districts and
placed 1 position in EOUSA to further support the program.
6
 A central tenant of the Weed and Seed Program is for local Weed and Seed sites to develop
partnerships among federal, state, and local governments and private sector agencies to
leverage federal Weed and Seed grant funds with additional resources from these partners
to promote weeding and seeding activities. These additional resources are intended to help
the site achieve the goal of becoming self-sustaining without Weed and Seed grant funds.




Page 6                                          GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
                            Guidelines first established by the Attorney General in 1994 stated that
DOJ Guidelines              U.S. Attorneys and their staff may be involved in their community’s crime
Covering U.S.               prevention and control efforts—including efforts to secure DOJ grant
                            funds and work with grantees—as long as they subscribe to legal and
Attorneys’ Grant            ethical considerations. DOJ components have recently issued related
Activities                  guidelines for U.S. Attorneys and their staff that, among other things,
                            focuses specifically on their dealings with grant applicants and grantees
                            under the PSN and Weed and Seed Programs. According to EOUSA
                            officials, DOJ issued program specific guidelines in response to the
                            numerous questions by U.S. Attorneys and their staff concerning their role
                            in relation to PSN and Weed and Seed.


Attorney General            U.S. Attorneys are encouraged to be involved in community based
Guidelines Encourage U.S.   activities that seek and secure DOJ grant funds as long as they and their
Attorneys to Be Active in   staff subscribe to legal and ethical considerations commensurate with
                            being a government employee, an attorney, and U.S. Attorney.7 According
Community Based             to guidelines established by the Attorney General in 1994 and revised in
Programs Involving DOJ      January 2001, U.S. Attorneys are encouraged to engage in community
Grants                      based crime prevention and control activities and form coalitions with
                            nonfederal, community based organizations, private entities, and law
                            enforcement because “promoting crime prevention initiatives enhances
                            the presence of the Department of Justice in communities around the
                            country and has proven effective in reducing crime.” The guidelines state




                            7
                             Federal conflict of interest rules are published at 18 U.S.C. § 208 and implementing
                            regulations at 5 C.F.R. § 2635.402. Essentially, these rules prohibit employees from taking
                            official action in a particular matter involving any entity in which they, or someone whose
                            interests are imputed to them, have a financial interest. Imputed interests include (1) the
                            interests of the employee’s spouse; (2) minor children; (3) a general partner; (4) an
                            organization in which the employee is serving as an officer, director, trustee, general
                            partner, or employee; or (5) any person or organization with whom the employee is
                            negotiating or has any arrangement concerning prospective employment. In addition,
                            Federal Standards of Conduct prohibit employees from acting in a particular matter that
                            involves a financial interest of a member of their household or if it involves a person with
                            whom the employee has a “covered relationship” (5 C.F.R. § 2635.502). Covered
                            relationship is defined to include (1) a person with whom the employee conducts business
                            other than routine consumer transactions; (2) a person who is a member of the employees
                            household, or who is a relative with whom the employee has a close personal relationship;
                            (3) a person for whom the employee’s spouse, parent, or dependent child is serving or
                            seeking to serve as an officer, director, trustee, general partner, agent attorney, consultant,
                            contractor, or employee; (4) any person for whom the employee has served, within the last
                            year, as officer, director, trustee, general partner, agent attorney, consultant, contractor, or
                            employee; and (5) an organization in which the employee is an active participant.




                            Page 7                                          GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
that, when working with nonfederal entities in implementing crime
prevention initiatives, U.S. Attorneys and their staff are to

•   remain impartial in carrying out their official duties and be careful to
    avoid the appearance of partiality;

•   consider conflicts of interest statutes when crime prevention activities
    involve persons or organizations with whom they have a personal,
    financial, or business relationship; and

•   avoid participation in coalitions that include individuals and nonfederal
    organizations that may be victims, witnesses, subjects, or targets in
    matters pending in their districts.

Thus, under the Attorney General’s guidelines, U.S. Attorneys may
convene meetings with other potential coalition participants to discuss
operating needs, program initiatives, event planning, and other related
matters, but they are to avoid participating in budget decisions of a
coalition, including decisions regarding the expenditure of funds that
could create the appearance that the U.S. Attorney is managing an entity
outside of DOJ. Also, according to the guidelines, U.S. Attorneys may
endorse specific coalition-based program initiatives as long as they refrain
from endorsing specific organizations; give presentations about coalition
initiatives at fund-raising events as long as the presentation addresses
official DOJ issues and does not solicit contributions; and participate in
public service announcements with other coalition members when the
purpose of the announcement is to further DOJ’s mission and coalition
initiatives.

With regard to grants, the guidelines state that U.S. Attorneys may provide
potential grant applicants with public information regarding sources of
federal funding and respond to inquiries regarding the grant application
process. Furthermore, they may draft a letter of recommendation to OJP
supporting a grant application. According to the guidelines, this letter can
identify the applicant’s accomplishments and may express the U.S.
Attorney’s views on whether government program funds should or should
not be granted to a particular applicant. However, U.S. Attorneys’ names
are not to appear on grant applications unless required by law, and U.S.
Attorneys are not to otherwise contact federal agencies on behalf of an
applicant seeking federal grant monies.




Page 8                                  GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
DOJ Has Recently           DOJ components involved in the PSN and Weed and Seed Programs have
Published Guidelines for   taken steps to provide specific guidance to U.S. Attorneys and their offices
U.S. Attorney Offices      in carrying out their grant-related responsibilities. In May 2002, EOUSA
                           told U.S. Attorneys and their staff that BJA had published Web based
Related to PSN and Weed    guidelines for U.S. Attorneys Offices and PSN task forces to instruct them
and Seed Activities        about their role in the process to solicit, review, and select grant
                           proposals. According to the memorandum issued by EOUSA’s Director,
                           the guidance was designed to provide step-by-step instructions on the
                           grant process that included guidance about specific ethics issues. In
                           December 2002, EOUSA told U.S. Attorneys and their staff about new PSN
                           guidelines—again including guidance about ethics issues—designed to
                           cover grants to be awarded in fiscal year 2003. During the same month, the
                           EOUSA Director sent a memorandum to all U.S. Attorneys, their senior
                           staff, and Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (LECC)
                           Coordinators about U.S. Attorneys Offices’ responsibilities in
                           implementing the Weed and Seed Program, including how to deal with
                           ethics concerns related to Weed and Seed grant activities.8 Appendix I
                           provides greater detail on the guidelines DOJ components issued for U.S.
                           Attorneys Offices on PSN and Weed and Seed during calendar year 2002.

                           According to EOUSA officials, the decision to issue guidelines for each
                           program resulted from DOJ’s overall effort to develop the PSN Program.
                           EOUSA’s Deputy Legal Counsel in EOUSA’s Office of Legal Counsel said
                           that the PSN guidance was not prompted by any particular incident;
                           rather, it was developed in response to numerous questions about PSN-
                           related ethics issues from U.S. Attorneys and their staff as the program
                           was being developed. The Deputy Legal Counsel said the exercise,
                           combined with similar questions by U.S. Attorneys and their staff
                           subsequently prompted EOUSA to develop the December 2002 guidance
                           for the Weed and Seed Program.

                           EOUSA’s Deputy Legal Counsel also said that EOUSA has provided ethics
                           training to U.S. Attorneys and their staff on their roles and responsibilities


                           8
                            According to EOUSA, there are currently 87 LECC Coordinators nationwide. LECC
                           Coordinator positions are classified under the General Schedule as GS-12 and GS-13 Law
                           Enforcement Coordination Specialists. According to EOUSA officials, LECC
                           responsibilities for the PSN and Weed and Seed Program can vary from district to district,
                           as determined by the U.S. Attorney and for Weed and Seed sites, the LECC is the individual
                           from the district that works most closely with the sites, acting as EOWS’ direct contact
                           with the site. Regarding PSN, EOUSA officials said that the LECC Coordinator is able to
                           use contacts with law enforcement, including those made through Weed and Seed, to act as
                           a liaison between law enforcement and other PSN participants or partners.




                           Page 9                                       GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
                        as it relates to grants offered and awarded under both programs. In
                        January 2002, EOUSA provided a presentation to U.S. Attorneys at the first
                        national PSN conference and in April 2002, EOUSA provided the same
                        presentation for each districts’ LECC Coordinators at a similar conference.
                        The presentation included a discussion of what U.S. Attorneys and their
                        staff can and cannot do when participating in the grant process. The
                        Deputy Legal Counsel said that ethics training pertinent to the Weed and
                        Seed Program was also provided to LECCs during October 2002. Also, in
                        December 2002, EOUSA produced and disseminated a video that
                        discussed the process U.S. Attorneys are to follow when working with
                        PSN task forces during the grantee selection and application process.

                        EOUSA’s Legal Counsel and Deputy Legal Counsel also indicated that they
                        believe that training, available guidance on ethics issues, and staff
                        awareness about standards of conflicts and actual or apparent conflicts of
                        interest are sufficient to ensure that ethical lapses will not occur. They
                        said that they were unaware of any ethical lapses and said that if questions
                        were raised, DOJ’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) would investigate
                        them. OIG staff we contacted who were responsible for dealing with
                        ethical issues at DOJ said they were aware of only one complaint involving
                        a U.S. Attorney and the Weed and Seed Program and none regarding PSN.


                        An effective internal control process is one that provides management
DOJ Has Not             with a reasonable level of assurance that agency operating, financial, and
Established Oversight   compliance objectives are being achieved on a systematic basis. EOUSA
                        has an evaluation program to assess and oversee the overall operations of
Mechanisms to Assess    each U.S. Attorneys Office—including operations associated with the
and Ensure              management of the PSN and Weed and Seed Programs—but the
                        evaluations are not designed to assess compliance with the PSN and Weed
Compliance with         and Seed guidelines recently issued. Similarly, federal regulations and
Recent Guidelines       procedures call for systematic financial disclosure reporting to, among
                        other things, facilitate the review of possible conflicts of interest to
                        guarantee the efficient and honest operation of the government. However,
                        DOJ has not established a financial disclosure reporting mechanism for
                        certain individuals—employees of U.S. Attorneys Offices that work with
                        grantees and potential grantees and nonfederal appointees to PSN grant
                        selection committees—to provide management assurance that these
                        individuals are free from actual or apparent conflicts of interest.




                        Page 10                               GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
EOUSA Does Not Assess    According to the Comptroller General’s Standards for Internal Control in
Compliance with Recent   the Federal Government,9 internal control activities are the policies,
PSN and Weed and Seed    procedures, techniques, and mechanisms that enforce management’s
                         directives. They include, for example, steps to set the specific standards or
Guidelines               criteria to be achieved by staff as well as steps that provide management
                         the information to determine on a routine basis whether the standards are
                         being met and to take corrective action when they are not. EOUSA has an
                         evaluation program to assess and oversee the overall operations of each
                         U.S. Attorneys Office that includes an assessment of the office’s
                         involvement in and performance related to the Weed and Seed and PSN
                         Programs. However, the evaluations are not designed to assess
                         compliance with the Weed and Seed and PSN guidance related to ethical
                         concerns that EOUSA recently issued.

                         Under 28 C.F.R. Part 0.22, EOUSA is to evaluate the performance of the
                         U.S. Attorneys Offices, make appropriate reports, and take corrective
                         actions if necessary. EOUSA’s Evaluation and Review Staff (EARS) is
                         responsible for the evaluation program, which, according to EOUSA, is an
                         internal review program designed, among other things, to examine
                         management controls and prevent waste, loss, unauthorized use, or
                         misappropriation in federal programs, as required under the Federal
                         Manager’s Financial Integrity Act. EARS evaluations are conducted in each
                         of the 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices every 3 years by teams of experienced
                         Assistant U.S. Attorneys, and administrative and financial litigation
                         personnel from other U.S. Attorneys Offices.10 According to EOUSA’s
                         Assistant Director for EARS, these assessments focus on personnel,
                         management, and workload issues in individual U.S. Attorneys Offices and
                         include, among other things, an assessment of the management and
                         operations of the local Weed and Seed and PSN Programs.




                         9
                          U.S. General Accounting Office, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal
                         Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1 (Washington, D.C.: November 1999), which was issued
                         under 31 U.S.C. 3512 (formerly known as the Federal Manager’s Financial Integrity Act),
                         established the framework for internal (or management) control in the federal government.
                         An effective internal control process is one that provides management with a reasonable
                         level of assurance that agency operating, financial, and compliance objectives are being
                         achieved on a systematic basis.
                         10
                           EOUSA officials told us that, in fiscal year 2001, EARS teams conducted evaluations in
                         30 U.S. Attorneys Offices. EARS teams also conducted 32 follow-up reviews in other offices
                         to ensure that issues identified in earlier visits were resolved.




                         Page 11                                      GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
Our review of EARS guidelines show that when evaluating the
management of the PSN and Weed and Seed Programs in U.S. Attorneys
Offices, review teams were to focus on task force or committee
management issues rather than compliance with the guidelines recently
published. For example, the template for the PSN part of the EARS review
instructs EARS reviewers to examine, among other things, whether the
PSN strategy had been implemented. If so, evaluators were instructed to
provide information on a variety of matters, including

•   the names of the PSN coordinators and the litigation units, sections, or
    branch offices where they serve;

•   the nature of the partnerships that have been developed with federal,
    state, and local law enforcement and whether the partnerships are
    districtwide or tailored to meet the individual needs or problems facing
    branch offices;

•   the community outreach activities associated with PSN;

•   the number of specially allocated attorney and support staff positions
    allocated to the office and whether they have been filled; and

•   examples of successes achieved under the program.

For the Weed and Seed Program, the template instructs review teams to
respond to the following five questions:

•   Does the district have a funded Weed and Seed Program? If so,
    describe the site, its organization, committees, management, programs,
    and initiatives.

•   Who in the U.S. Attorneys Offices supervises and works with the Weed
    and Seed Program?

•   What is the U.S. Attorneys’ role in the Weed and Seed Program?

•   What other U.S. Attorneys Offices staff, such as the LECC or Assistant
    U.S. Attorneys have a role in the Weed and Seed Program?

•   Do you know of any problems or concerns with the Weed and Seed
    Program?

EOUSA’s Assistant Director for EARS said that reviews for both programs
were broad based management reviews and were not designed to be


Page 12                                GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
                           audits of the programs. The Assistant Director also said that there are
                           plans to revise the PSN part of EARS to include an evaluation of gun-crime
                           data that is to be reported to the Attorney General twice yearly, but there
                           are no similar plans to revise the Weed and Seed part of EARS. Regarding
                           the recently issued PSN and Weed and Seed guidelines, the Assistant
                           Director said that there are no plans to revise EARS to assess compliance
                           with the guidelines and determine whether they are working as intended.


U.S. Attorney Staff That   Staff in U.S. Attorneys Offices can be delegated responsibility to lead or
Work with Grantees Not     work with community organizations that receive Weed and Seed grant
Required to File           funds, but these staff are not required to file disclosure forms. These forms
                           might reveal relationships that could be actual or potential conflicts of
Confidential Financial     interest. According to 5 C.F.R. 2634.904, each officer or employee whose
Disclosure Forms           position is classified at GS-15 or below or at a rate of pay that is less than
                           120 percent of the minimum rate of pay for GS-15, is required to file a
                           confidential financial disclosure report if the agency concludes that the
                           duties and responsibilities of the employee’s position require the employee
                           to:

                           •    participate personally and substantially through decision or exercise of
                                judgment, in taking a government action regarding contracting or
                                procurement; administering or monitoring grants, subsidies, licenses,
                                or other federal conferred financial or operational benefits; regulating
                                or auditing any nonfederal entity; or other activities in which the final
                                decision or action will have a direct and substantial economic effect on
                                the interests or nonfederal entity or

                           •    avoid involvement in a real or apparent conflict of interest, and to carry
                                out the purpose behind any statute, executive order, rule, or regulation
                                applicable or administered by that employee.

                           According to 5 C.F.R. 2634.901, these reports are designed to (1) assist an
                           agency in administering its ethics program and counseling its employees
                           and (2) facilitate the review of possible conflicts of interest to guarantee
                           the efficient and honest operation of the government.11



                           11
                            According to this regulation, the purpose of such reporting is to complement the public
                           reporting system established by the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended, which
                           requires that high-level officials in the executive branch report certain financial interests
                           publicly to ensure that every citizen can have confidence in the integrity of the federal
                           government.



                           Page 13                                        GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
During our review, we examined the most recent summary of EARS
reports dated between June 1997 and April 2000, for the 10 U.S. Attorneys
Offices we visited. In some of these districts, U.S. Attorneys participated
on the Weed and Seed steering committee, while in others, Assistant U.S.
Attorneys or LECC Coordinators were delegated responsibility for
working with Weed and Seed committees, and according to one report,
“run” the Weed and Seed Program. None of the EARS reports addressed
any involvement with the PSN program because when the reviews were
completed, PSN had not been implemented. Our work in the 10 districts
also showed that 9 of the districts had active Weed and Seed sites in place,
and in some districts, new Weed and Seed sites were under consideration.
Among the districts that had active Weed and Seed sites, some of the U.S.
Attorneys told us that they actively worked with Weed and Seed
committees, whereas others delegated responsibility to an Assistant U.S.
Attorney or to LECC Coordinators. For example, in one district the LECC
Coordinator represented the U.S. Attorney on the Weed and Seed
committee, while in another district the LECC Coordinator helped manage
the Weed and Seed sites day-to-day operations.

Given recent EOUSA, BJA, and EOWS efforts to publish PSN and Weed
and Seed guidelines and train U.S. Attorneys and their staff about ethical
concerns, we asked if U.S. Attorneys and their staff that deal with
potential grant applicants and grantees were required to file financial
disclosure statements. They provided information, published on DOJ
internal Web pages, which showed that under current DOJ guidelines:

•   U.S. Attorneys, Assistant U.S. Attorneys in supervisory positions,
    Senior Litigation Counsels, Special Government Employees, and
    Schedule C employees are required to file a Public Financial Disclosure
    Report within 30 days of assuming their covered position and annually
    thereafter.




Page 14                               GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
•    All line Assistant U.S. Attorneys and special Assistant U.S. Attorneys
     are required to file a Confidential Conflict of Interest Certification
     Form to certify that they have no conflict of interest in each matter
     they undertake.12

•    Employees occupying positions in which they exercise significant
     judgment on matters that have an economic effect on the interests of a
     nonfederal entity are required to file a confidential financial disclosure
     report within 30 days on entering a covered position and every year by
     October 31, including positions where duties involve contracting,
     procurement, administering grants, regulating, or auditing a nonfederal
     entity or other activities in which the final decision or action will have
     a direct and substantial economic effect on the interests of any
     nonfederal entity.

EOUSA’s Deputy Legal Counsel also told us that LECC Coordinators and
Assistant U.S. Attorneys that work with organizations involving grantees
are not required to file confidential disclosure forms because they are not
responsible for administering or monitoring grants. The Deputy Legal
Counsel pointed out that employees in U.S. Attorneys Offices are not
supposed to monitor grants. The Deputy Legal Counsel said that the Weed
and Seed guidelines instruct employees to not act on behalf of EOWS;
rather, they are to notify EOWS of any issues that may arise during the
course of the grant relationship and EOWS is to handle the matter under
its own procedures. Nonetheless, the Deputy Legal Counsel acknowledged
that U.S. Attorneys Office staff that work with grantees under the Weed
and Seed Program might encounter situations that could be perceived as
real or apparent conflicts of interest. Furthermore, the Deputy Legal
Counsel and EOUSA’s Deputy Director said that, based on our inquiry, it
might be worthwhile considering a change to procedures so that LECC
Coordinators would be required to file confidential disclosure statements.
The Deputy Legal Counsel added that Assistant U.S. Attorneys are already
required to file the confidential certification form for each matter they are
involved with and was not clear whether involvement in a community




12
  According to EOUSA officials, in 1994, the Office of Government Ethics approved DOJ’s
use of the Confidential Conflict of Interest Certification Form in lieu of a confidential
financial disclosure report. According to DOJ’s internal Web site that discusses the form,
the form is designed to continually impress on each Assistant U.S. Attorney the affirmative
duty of complying with all ethics laws and regulations. DOJ requires that Assistant U.S.
Attorneys assigned to each case complete the form and maintain it in the case file.




Page 15                                       GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
                          Weed and Seed activity related to grants would constitute a matter
                          covered by the certification form.13


PSN Selection Committee   In developing the PSN grant program, BJA modeled the PSN selection
Members Are Not           committee process after its peer review process, where peer review
Screened for Actual or    committees are used to assess the merits of the grant application and
                          make recommendations about worthy grant applications. However,
Apparent Conflicts of     whereas BJA has established a process to screen peer reviewers for actual
Interest                  or apparent conflicts of interest before they are appointed to peer review
                          committees, it has not established a similar process for members of PSN
                          selection committees.

                          According to a BJA project manager, BJA uses a multistep process to
                          screen potential peer reviewers for conflict of interest in reviewing
                          applications for grants. BJA hires a peer review contractor who is
                          responsible for conducting a preliminary screening of potential peer
                          reviewers for conflicts of interest based on guidelines established by BJA.
                          Once past the preliminary screening, peer reviewers are asked to self-
                          identify any conflicts of interest by signing a certification statement.

                          EOUSA’s PSN coordinator told us that BJA has delegated its peer review
                          authority to U.S. Attorneys and, as discussed earlier, BJA has issued
                          guidance that includes the steps the U.S. Attorneys are to follow when
                          appointing members of the selection committee—peer reviewers for PSN
                          grants. BJA’s guidance states that the selection committee can include any
                          or all of the other members of the PSN task force, except the U.S.
                          Attorney, a member of his or her staff, or any federal employee, as long as
                          their participation does not represent an actual or apparent conflict of
                          interest. The guidance further reminds the U.S. Attorneys that the
                          Standards of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Rules that apply to him or
                          her and their staff also apply to members of the selection committee.
                          However, unlike the peer review process employed by BJA for other grant
                          programs, U.S. Attorneys are not required to screen the selection



                          13
                            During our review, we also noted that the U.S. Attorney manual specifically calls for the
                          staff of U.S. Attorneys Offices to file confidential financial disclosure forms if they review
                          grant applications. The manual uses Weed and Seed grants as an example. EOUSA’s Deputy
                          Legal Counsel told us that this provision would not apply to the staff of U.S. Attorneys
                          Offices because they do not review grant applications. Subsequent to that conversation,
                          EOUSA’s Deputy Director told us that, since the language in the U.S. Attorney’s manual
                          was inaccurate, EOUSA had removed the language from the manual.




                          Page 16                                        GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
              committee members they appoint for actual or apparent conflicts of
              interests, nor are committee members asked to self-identify any actual or
              apparent conflicts of interest.

              Our discussions with BJA and EOUSA officials responsible for PSN
              indicated that the lack of a mechanism for identifying actual or apparent
              conflicts of interest among selection committee members was not a
              problem because they believe (1) appointees from these organizations
              would likely be covered by their own ethical guidance governing their
              capacity as a selection committee member and (2) the geographic area
              covered by individual PSN grants is so small that local jurisdictions would
              not select someone to serve on the selection committee that has a vested
              interest in who the grants are awarded to. BJA’s Director of the Programs
              Division told us that, when BJA developed the guidelines for PSN selection
              committees, BJA had not thought of including a requirement that selection
              committee members submit a signed self-disclosure conflict of interest
              statement. The Director of the Programs Division said that, based on our
              inquiry it might be useful to include some type of requirement for conflict
              of interest reporting to add an additional level of assurance about the
              integrity of the PSN Program. Accordingly, in April 2003, the Director, BJA
              Programs Division, said that BJA would issue a directive requiring PSN
              fiscal agents to collect a signed self-certified conflict of interest statement
              from PSN selection committee members. Fiscal agents would be required
              to maintain the statements on file subject to BJA review in their capacity
              as grant monitors.


              DOJ efforts to provide guidance to U.S. Attorneys Offices regarding their
Conclusions   involvement in activities associated with grants awarded under the PSN
              and Weed and Seed Programs are notable. However, as U.S. Attorneys and
              their staff become more heavily involved in these grant programs, they
              could increasingly encounter actual or apparent conflicts of interest that
              could undermine the integrity of the programs both within districts and
              nationwide. Without a mechanism for monitoring U.S. Attorneys Offices’
              compliance with available guidance, DOJ does not have reasonable
              assurance that its steps taken to date—such as the issuance of guidance,
              ethics training, and video presentations—are adequately understood and
              have reached all those who are covered by this guidance. DOJ
              components, such as EOUSA and BJA, are also not positioned to
              determine (1) if the guidelines are correctly applied and actually and
              systematically achieving the end result of preventing actual or apparent
              ethical conflicts or (2) whether guidelines related to grant activities could
              be clarified, strengthened, or improved. In addition, the absence of


              Page 17                                GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
                     confidential financial disclosure reporting for U.S. Attorneys Office
                     employees that work with grantees hinders the U.S. Attorneys ability to
                     (1) fully administer these programs in the context of ethics considerations
                     and (2) identify possible conflicts of interest to guarantee the efficient and
                     honest operation of the government.


                     We recommend that the Attorney General instruct the Director of EOUSA
Recommendations      and U.S. Attorneys to take steps to further mitigate the risk associated
                     with U.S. Attorneys Offices’ involvement in the grant components of the
                     PSN and Weed and Seed Programs. Specifically, we recommend that
                     EOUSA and U.S. Attorneys (1) establish a mechanism to assess and
                     oversee compliance with recently issued guidelines pertaining to the grant
                     activities of U.S. Attorneys Offices and ensure that the guidelines are
                     working as intended and (2) require that U.S. Attorneys’ staffs who work
                     with community organizations on grant-related matters be required to file
                     financial disclosure reports certifying that they are free from conflicts of
                     interest.


                     On May 13, 2003, we requested comments on a draft of this report from the
Agency Comments      Attorney General. On May 19, 2003, Department of Justice officials
and Our Evaluation   informed us that they had no comments on the report.


                     Copies of this report will be made available to other interested parties.
                     This report will also be available on the GAO Web site at
                     http://www.gao.gov.

                     If you have any questions, please contact my Assistant Director, John F.
                     Mortin, or me at (202) 512-8777. You may also contact Mr. Mortin at
                     mortinj@gao.gov, or me at jonespl@gao.gov. Key contributors to this
                     report were Daniel R. Garcia, Grace Coleman, and Maria Romero.




                     Paul L. Jones
                     Director,
                     Homeland Security and Justice




                     Page 18                                GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
              Appendix I: Summary of Guidelines Issued for
Appendix I: Summary of Guidelines Issued
              U.S. Attorneys Regarding Grants Awarded
              under the PSN and Weed and Seed Programs


for U.S. Attorneys Regarding Grants Awarded
under the PSN and Weed and Seed Programs
              The following paragraphs summarize the guidelines the Department of
              Justice (DOJ) issued for U.S. Attorneys and their staff during calendar year
              2002 regarding their role in working with grants and grantees awarded
              under the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) and Weed and Seed
              Programs.


              During 2002, DOJ issued two sets of guidelines for U.S. Attorneys and PSN
PSN Grants    task forces in carrying out their responsibilities under PSN. Under the May
              2002 PSN guidelines, each U.S. Attorneys Office was instructed to work
              with interested federal, state, and local officials to form a PSN task force,
              chaired or co-chaired by the U.S. Attorney, to develop a comprehensive
              strategic plan. As part of this process, the task force was to formulate its
              overall mission and goals after which the U.S. Attorney was instructed to
              designate a selection committee to (1) review eligible grant proposals and
              (2) select a single grantee for Research Partner/Crime Analyst and Media
              Outreach and Community Engagement grants funded in fiscal year 2002.
              The guidelines stated that the selection committee was not to include
              members of the U.S. Attorneys’ staff, but could include other members of
              the task force as long as their participation did not represent an actual or
              apparent conflict of interest. In addition, the guidelines instructed the U.S.
              Attorney to

              •   certify to the selection committee, based on the recommendations of
                  the task force, whether potential grantees are suitable candidates for
                  federal funding1 and

              •   convey the committee’s choice to the Bureau of Justice Assistance
                  (BJA), along with a letter from the U.S. Attorney, certifying that (1) the
                  potential grant recipient is free from allegations of criminal misconduct
                  and current investigation and (2) the applicant’s proposal supports the
                  PSN task force activities, missions, and goals.

              In December 2002, the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA)
              announced that BJA had issued similar guidelines for reviewing and
              selecting applicants for grants funded in fiscal year 2003. As before, U.S.
              Attorneys and their staff were instructed to work with the PSN task force
              and, among other things, the U.S. Attorney was to designate a selection



              1
               The U.S. Attorney was to certify to the selection committee before the committee
              reviewed and selected potential grantees.




              Page 19                                        GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
                       Appendix I: Summary of Guidelines Issued for
                       U.S. Attorneys Regarding Grants Awarded
                       under the PSN and Weed and Seed Programs




                       committee—not comprised of the U.S. Attorneys’ staff or federal
                       employees—to choose a grantee. Unlike the earlier guidelines, the
                       selection committee was to (1) choose a single grantee to act as fiscal
                       agent for the PSN strategy and (2) determine what portions of the PSN
                       strategy should be funded and to whom after the grant proposal had been
                       approved by BJA.2 BJA’s guidelines for both fiscal years also included
                       hyperlinks to guidance EOUSA had issued for U.S. Attorneys and their
                       staff earlier in the year. EOUSA’s guidelines were similar to the Attorney
                       General’s guidelines, but they focused specifically on numerous ethics and
                       legal issues they need to consider in relation to their involvement with the
                       PSN Program. For example, similar to the Attorney General’s guidelines
                       discussed earlier, U.S. Attorneys are expected to express their views if
                       there is any reason why a particular applicant is an inappropriate
                       candidate for PSN funds, but they are prohibited from appearing before
                       the Office of Justice Programs on behalf of an applicant seeking grant
                       monies associated with PSN.


                       In December 2002, EOUSA also issued guidance that outlined the roles
Weed and Seed Grants   and responsibilities of U.S. Attorney’s and their staff regarding the Weed
                       and Seed Program.3 Similar to the Attorney General’s and EOUSA’s PSN
                       ethics guidelines, EOUSA’s Weed and Seed guidance covered topics
                       ranging from working with nonprofit organizations to prohibitions against
                       fundraising and listed what activities U.S. Attorneys and their staff can
                       perform in support of the Weed and Seed Program. In regard to grants, the
                       guidance stated that U.S. Attorneys and their staff may, among other
                       things




                       2
                        According to BJA guidelines, the selection committee may select any government
                       agency—such as a state agency or local jurisdiction—or a legal nonprofit organization to
                       be the fiscal agent. The guidelines stated that selection committees are free to select any
                       organization or establish a new nonprofit agency. However, the guidelines encouraged
                       selection committees to select established organizations that have experience
                       administering grant funds. According to BJA, the grant funds, once awarded by BJA, may
                       be used for any number of purposes—such as targeting new prosecutors to key areas or
                       augmenting task force research and outreach efforts—consistent with the local PSN
                       strategy and at the discretion of the selection committee.
                       3
                        EOWS had guidance in place for the process to be followed in securing and administering
                       Weed and Seed grants, but the guidance was not directed at U.S. Attorneys Offices. Rather,
                       it was designed to assist communities and stakeholders in their efforts to secure grant
                       funding under the Weed and Seed Program and briefly discussed the role of the U.S.
                       Attorney in that process.




                       Page 20                                        GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
           Appendix I: Summary of Guidelines Issued for
           U.S. Attorneys Regarding Grants Awarded
           under the PSN and Weed and Seed Programs




           •   serve as that chair or co-chair of the Weed and Seed Steering
               Committee;

           •   certify to the Executive Office for Weed and Seed (EOWS) via a “letter
               of intent” that a potential Weed and Seed site can receive “official
               recognition;” that is the site has developed a strategy sufficient to make
               them eligible to apply for a Weed and Seed grant;

           •   review Official Recognition applications and prepare a cover letter for
               submission to EOWS supporting the site and its strategy;

           •   review funding applications to ensure technical accuracy and
               consistency with the Weed and Seed strategy;

           •   sign a statement of support for the Weed and Seed strategy; and

           •   supervise the site, as chair or co-chair of the steering committee,
               throughout the life of the initiative.

           The Weed and Seed guidelines also instructed U.S. Attorneys that, among
           other things, they may not become advocates for individual grant
           applicants; communicate with or appear before any federal agency on
           behalf of a nonprofit organization; or draft grant proposals or applications.
           Furthermore, U.S. Attorneys were told that they are authorized to assist
           EOWS in monitoring the performance of the project under the grant to
           ensure federal grant dollars are not misused, but they are not to act on
           EOWS’ behalf. The guidelines stated that U.S. Attorneys are to inform
           EOWS of site implementation problems or irregularities to enable EOWS
           to take appropriate action.




(440169)
           Page 21                                        GAO-03-733 U.S. Attorneys' Grant Activities
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