oversight

Law Enforcement Body Armor: DOJ Could Enhance Grant Management Controls and Better Ensure Consistency in Grant Program Requirements

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-02-15.

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

                United States Government Accountability Office

GAO             Report to Congressional Requesters




February 2012
                LAW ENFORCEMENT
                BODY ARMOR
                DOJ Could Enhance
                Grant Management
                Controls and Better
                Ensure Consistency in
                Grant Program
                Requirements




GAO-12-353
                                               February 2012

                                               LAW ENFORCEMENT BODY ARMOR
                                               DOJ Could Enhance Grant Management Controls
                                               and Better Ensure Consistency in Grant Program
Highlights of GAO-12-353, a report to
                                               Requirements
congressional requesters




Why GAO Did This Study                         What GAO Found
Since 1987, body armor—in the form             The Department of Justice (DOJ) has a number of initiatives to support body
of ballistic-resistant and stab-resistant      armor use by state and local law enforcement, including funding, research,
vests—has reportedly saved the lives           standards development, and testing programs. Two Bureau of Justice Assistance
of over 3,000 law enforcement officers         (BJA) grant programs provide funding to state and local law enforcement to
nationwide. Recognizing body armor’s           facilitate their body armor purchases. The Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP)
value, the Department of Justice               program offers 2-year grants on a reimbursable basis. The Edward Byrne
(DOJ)—through its Bureau of Justice            Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program provides 4-year grant money
Assistance (BJA) and its National              up front that can be used to fund body armor procurement along with other
Institute of Justice (NIJ)—has
                                               criminal justice activities. Since the BVP program’s inception in 1999, it has
implemented initiatives to support state
                                               reimbursed grantees about $247 million for their purchases of nearly 1 million
and local law enforcement agencies’
use of body armor. GAO was asked to
                                               vests. The JAG program has provided nearly $4 billion from fiscal years 2006
examine (1) DOJ’s efforts to support           through 2011, but BJA does not know how much of this amount grantees have
the use of body armor, (2) the extent to       spent on body armor because it is not required to track expenditures for specific
which DOJ has designed controls to             purposes. BJA reports that from fiscal years 2006 through 2011, 357 grantees
manage and coordinate these efforts,           intended to use JAG funds for ballistic-resistant vest procurement, but it does not
and (3) the factors affecting body             track how many grantees intended to purchase stab-resistant vests. The National
armor’s use and effectiveness and              Institute of Justice (NIJ) sponsors body armor research, establishes body armor
steps DOJ has taken to address them.           performance standards, and oversees body armor testing for compliance.
GAO reviewed information on DOJ’s
                                               DOJ designed several internal controls to manage and coordinate BJA’s and
efforts, and interviewed officials from
BJA, NIJ, 6 manufacturers, 2                   NIJ’s body armor activities, but could take steps to strengthen them, consistent
laboratories, 3 law enforcement                with standards for internal control. For example, the BVP program has not
associations, 10 state and local               deobligated about $27 million in undisbursed funds from grant awards whose
jurisdictions, and 12 stakeholders in          terms have ended. To strengthen fund management, DOJ could deobligate
and outside of government. GAO                 these funds for grants that have closed and, for example, apply the amounts to
selected these organizations                   new awards or reduce requests for future budgets. Also, unlike the BVP program,
nonrandomly based in part on their             the JAG program does not require that the body armor purchased be NIJ
size, and location. GAO also examined          compliant or that officers be mandated to wear the armor purchased. To promote
body armor literature on key factors           officer safety and harmonize the BVP and JAG programs, DOJ could establish
affecting body armor’s use and                 consistent body armor requirements.
effectiveness and reviewed DOJ’s
efforts to address these factors.              Factors affecting body armor use and effectiveness include law enforcement
                                               agencies’ policies mandating wear; the comfort, fit, and coverage of the vests;
What GAO Recommends                            degradation caused by wear and tear; and exposure to environmental conditions.
                                               Among other efforts to address these factors, DOJ has revised its standards and
GAO recommends that among other
                                               compliance tests to incorporate the latest technology.
actions, DOJ deobligate undisbursed
funds from grants in the BVP program           Examples of Body Armor
that have closed, establish consistent
requirements within its body armor
grant programs, and track grantees’
intended stab-resistant vest purchases.
DOJ generally agreed with the
recommendations.



View GAO-12-353. For more information,
contact David C. Maurer at (202) 512-9627 or
maurerd@gao.gov.

                                                                                       United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                   1
               Background                                                                4
               DOJ Provides Funding, Sponsors Research, Sets Standards, and
                 Conducts Compliance Testing to Support Law Enforcement’s
                 Use of Body Armor                                                       7
               DOJ Has Controls and Coordination Mechanisms for Its Body
                 Armor Efforts but Could Take Actions to Further Reduce
                 Management Risks                                                       15
               DOJ Has Taken Steps to Address Factors That Affect the Use and
                 Effectiveness of Body Armor                                            32
               Conclusions                                                              36
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                     37
               Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                       37

Appendix I     Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                       41



Appendix II    Types of Law Enforcement Body Armor by Level of Ballistic
               Performance                                                              45



Appendix III   Performance Levels of Law Enforcement Stab-Resistant Body Armor          46



Appendix IV    Tumbler Used to Condition Ballistic-Resistant Body Armor before
               Testing                                                                  47



Appendix V     Comments from the Department of Justice                                  48



Appendix VI    GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                    52



Tables
               Table 1: Groups and Committees Currently Involved in NIJ’s
                        Process to Update Body Armor Standards                          13



               Page i                                 GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
          Table 2: Stab-Resistant Body Armor Performance Levels                                     46

Figures
          Figure 1: Examples of Ballistic- and Stab-Resistant Body Armor                            5
          Figure 2: Ballistic-Resistant Body Armor Mounted on Clay for
                   Testing Purposes                                                                 12
          Figure 3: BVP Program Awards and Disbursements from Fiscal
                   Years 1999 through 2011                                                          18
          Figure 4: Status of $93 Million in Undisbursed BVP Funding, Fiscal
                   Years 1999 through 2011                                                          20
          Figure 5: NIJ Compliance Testing Process                                                  30


          Abbreviations

          BJA               Bureau of Justice Assistance
          BVP               Bulletproof Vest Partnership
          DHS               Department of Homeland Security
          DOD               Department of Defense
          DOJ               Department of Justice
          FBI               Federal Bureau of Investigation
          GMS               Grants Management System
          IACP              International Association of Chiefs of Police
          JAG               Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant
          OAAM              Office of Audit, Assessment, and Management
          OJP               Office of Justice Programs
          NIJ               National Institute of Justice
          NIST              National Institute of Standards and Technology
          NLECTC            National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology
                            Center
          NVLAP             National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program
          STC               Special Technical Committee
          SAA               state administering agency
          TSWG              Technical Support Working Group
          UV                ultraviolet


          This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the
          United States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety
          without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain
          copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be
          necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately.




          Page ii                                          GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   February 15, 2012

                                   Congressional Requesters

                                   Firearms continue to be one of the most dangerous threats faced by
                                   federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, according to Federal
                                   Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data. In 2010, the most recent year for
                                   which complete data are available, the FBI reported that 56 law
                                   enforcement officers were killed nationwide in violent encounters and that
                                   all but one of these deaths was caused by a firearm. 1 Preliminary data
                                   collected by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund show
                                   that in 2011, 68 officers were killed by firearms. 2 Body armor can help
                                   protect officers from firearm assaults. 3 A study conducted by a RAND
                                   Corporation researcher found that officers who do not routinely wear body
                                   armor are 3.4 times more likely to sustain a fatal injury from a torso shot
                                   than officers who do. 4 In addition, data collected in part by the
                                   International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) indicate that body
                                   armor has saved the lives of more than 3,000 law enforcement officers
                                   since 1987. Recognizing body armor as an effective tool in helping to
                                   protect law enforcement officers, the Department of Justice (DOJ)—
                                   through its Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and its National Institute of



                                   1
                                    FBI, “Law Enforcement Officers Feloniously Killed: Type of Weapon, 2001-2010,” Law
                                   Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2010, table 27 (Washington, D.C.: 2011),
                                   accessed December 29, 2011, http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/leoka/leoka-
                                   2010/tables/table27-leok-feloniously-type-of-weapon-01-10.xls.
                                   2
                                    The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization that
                                   maintains a database of officer deaths and conducts research into officer fatality trends to
                                   provide information that will help promote law enforcement safety. FBI and National Law
                                   Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund data are not directly comparable. FBI data include
                                   only incidents where officers were killed by a firearm during a felonious assault, while
                                   National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund data do not specify whether the
                                   circumstances of the officers’ deaths were felonious.
                                   3
                                    For the purposes of this report, body armor includes ballistic-resistant and stab-resistant
                                   vests. The former are designed to protect against bullet penetrations and the trauma
                                   associated with bullet impacts. The latter are designed to protect against stab weapon
                                   penetrations.
                                   4
                                    The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit nonpartisan institution that conducts research and
                                   analysis on a range of policy issues. Tom LaTourrette, “The Life-Saving Effectiveness of
                                   Body Armor for Police Officers,” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, vol.
                                   7, no. 10 (2010).




                                   Page 1                                            GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Justice (NIJ)—has implemented initiatives to promote and support state
and local law enforcement’s use of body armor. These initiatives have
involved internal and external stakeholders, including law enforcement
components within DOJ; components within the Department of
Commerce and the Department of Defense (DOD) 5 that conduct related
body armor research; and private entities, such as those that manufacture
and assist in testing body armor.

You requested that we review DOJ’s law enforcement body armor
initiatives. In response, this report answers the following questions:
(1) What efforts does DOJ have under way to support state and local law
enforcement’s use of body armor? (2) To what extent has DOJ designed
controls over these efforts and coordinated them with stakeholders within
and outside of the department? (3) What factors affect body armor’s use
and effectiveness and what steps has DOJ taken to address these
factors?

To address all three questions we obtained and assessed body armor-
related documents from BJA and NIJ, such as program requirements and
budget information for fiscal years 1999 through 2011, and interviewed
BJA and NIJ officials. In addition, we attended NIJ workshops in 2011 on
its body armor standards and observed body armor testing firsthand.
Further, for the first question, we examined program data on BJA’s
Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) program for fiscal years 1999 through
2011 as well as its Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant
(JAG) program for fiscal years 2006 through 2011. These two grant
programs support state and local law enforcement’s purchases of body
armor. Based on discussions with BJA officials concerning the reliability
of the BVP data, we determined that the data were sufficiently reliable for
our purposes. We also examined preliminary information from a GAO
survey of more than 3,900 JAG grantees to determine the extent to which
they had procured ballistic and stab-resistant body armor in fiscal year




5
 For prior GAO work related to Army body armor test procedures, see GAO, Warfighter
Support: Independent Expert Assessment of Army Body Armor Test Results and
Procedures Needed Before Fielding, GAO-10-119 (Washington D.C.: Oct. 16, 2009).




Page 2                                        GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
2010. 6 The survey data included in this report reflect a 42 percent
response rate and are not generalizable to all JAG grantees.

For the second question, we assessed DOJ’s body armor policies and
efforts using standards for internal control in the federal government and
leading practices for grant management and stakeholder coordination. 7
We also discussed body armor efforts and coordination issues with
officials from DOJ’s law enforcement components, including the Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Bureau of Prisons; the
Drug Enforcement Administration; the FBI; and the U.S. Marshals
Service. Additionally, we interviewed officials from 3 law enforcement
associations, 6 body armor manufacturers, 2 body armor testing
laboratories, and 10 jurisdictions that receive DOJ body armor funding. In
particular, with officials from state and local jurisdictions, we discussed
body armor funding, policy, selection, procurement, and use. When
possible, we discussed body armor use with male and female law
enforcement officers who wear body armor. We selected these types of
organizations because of their involvement in body armor manufacturing,
testing, and use. We selected the nonprobability samples of these
organizations based primarily on size and location. 8 Thus, although the
views of the individuals in our samples provide valuable insight into body
armor issues, they are not generalizable. We also interviewed officials
from DOD and the Department of Commerce involved in body armor
research, standards, and testing to discuss their efforts and the extent to
which they coordinate with DOJ.


6
 Survey of Indigent Defense Funding from Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants,
GAO (2012). This survey will be completed in February 2012 and the results will be
published in a forthcoming GAO report on indigent defense. Indigent defense refers to
activities that help ensure indigent defendants are afforded their right to counsel in
criminal cases, such as hiring additional public defenders, investigators, or other support
staff; providing training for public defenders; or making technological improvements in
defenders’ offices or systems.
7
 GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1
(Washington, D.C.: November 1999); Grant Accountability Project, Guide to Opportunities
for Improving Grant Accountability (Washington, D.C.: 2005); GAO, Results-Oriented
Government: Practices That Can Help Enhance and Sustain Collaboration among Federal
Agencies, GAO-06-15 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 21, 2005); and American National
Standards Institute, United States Standards Strategy (New York: Dec. 2, 2010).
8
 Unlike a random sample, a nonprobability sample is more deliberatively chosen, meaning
that some elements of the population being studied have either no chance or an unknown
chance of being selected as part of the sample. App. I contains more information on the
rationale we used to choose our sample.




Page 3                                            GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
             For the third question, we reviewed literature on the factors that affect
             body armor use and effectiveness and discussed these factors with the
             officials that we interviewed for the second question. More details on our
             scope and methodology appear in appendix I.

             We conducted this performance audit from March 2011 through February
             2012 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
             standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to
             obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
             our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe
             that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
             and conclusions based on our audit objectives.


             Body armor for law enforcement applications includes ballistic-resistant
Background   and stab-resistant body armor—usually worn in the form of a vest—that
             provides coverage and protection primarily for the torso. Ballistic-resistant
             body armor protects against bullet penetrations and the blunt trauma
             associated with bullet impacts. 9 This body armor includes soft body armor
             that protects against handgun bullets and less flexible tactical body armor
             composed of soft and hard components that protects against rifle
             bullets. 10 Stab-resistant body armor protects against knives or spikes.
             Figure 1 depicts examples of ballistic-resistant and stab-resistant body
             armor.




             9
              See video (www.gao.gov/multimedia/video#video_id=588451) showing how ballistic-
             resistant body armor protects against bullet penetrations and blunt trauma.
             10
               See video (www.gao.gov/multimedia/video#video_id=588454) depicting the difference
             between soft and tactical body armor.




             Page 4                                        GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Figure 1: Examples of Ballistic- and Stab-Resistant Body Armor




                                        DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) has two units responsible for the
                                        department’s body armor efforts—BJA and NIJ—whose initiatives will be
                                        discussed in greater detail later in this report. BJA, in turn, has two
                                        separate grant programs that support, either directly or indirectly, state
                                        and local law enforcement’s body armor purchases: (1) the BVP program
                                        and (2) the JAG program.

                                        DOJ created the BVP program following enactment of the Bulletproof
                                        Vest Partnership Grant Act of 1998. 11 The legislation authorized BJA to
                                        provide grants on a competitive basis to state and local law enforcement
                                        agencies to assist in their purchasing of ballistic-resistant and stab-
                                        resistant body armor that complies with NIJ body armor standards.
                                        Currently, funds available for the BVP program are awarded to each
                                        qualifying unit of local government with fewer than 100,000 residents and
                                        any remaining funds available are awarded to other qualifying


                                        11
                                          Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act of 1998, Pub. L. No. 105-181, 112 Stat. 512.




                                        Page 5                                          GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
applicants. 12 Appropriations for BVP funding are provided under “no-year
authority,” but the BVP program currently gives state and local
jurisdictions 2 years to use their awards. 13 The program has generally
funded, on a reimbursable basis, up to 50 percent of the cost of the body
armor a jurisdiction procures with its available BVP funds. 14

DOJ established the JAG program following enactment of the Violence
Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005,
which merged the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law
Enforcement Assistance Program with the Local Government Law
Enforcement Block Grants program. 15 The JAG program is the leading
source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions.
Appropriations for JAG funding also are provided under no-year authority
and the JAG program gives state and local jurisdictions 4 years to use
their awards. 16 JAG provides state, tribal, and local governments with
funding to support a range of program areas, including law enforcement;
prosecution and courts; prevention and education; corrections and
community corrections; drug treatment and enforcement; planning,
evaluation, and technology improvement; and crime victim and witness
initiatives. In the law enforcement program area, among other things,
grantees can use JAG funding to procure body armor. The program
provides 60 percent of the JAG awards directly to the state agencies that
administer JAG funds—known as state administering agencies (SAA)—



12
   42 U.S.C. § 3796//(g). Under Pub. L. No. 105-181, § 3, 112 Stat. 512, 513-14, the
original legislation required at least half of the funds available to be awarded to units of
local government with fewer than 100,000 residents. The original requirement was
subsequently amended in the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act of 2000, Pub. L. No.
106-517, § 3(b), 114 Stat. 2407, 2407-08 (Nov. 13, 2000), to the current requirement of
awarding funds available to each qualifying unit of local government with fewer than
100,000 residents and any remaining funds available to other qualifying applicants.
13
  Prior to 2008, the BVP program gave grantees up to 4 years to spend their awards.
14
  Jurisdictions having 2009 and 2010 BVP award funds available may request a financial
hardship waiver when requesting payment if they meet criteria of financial or natural
hardship and receive up to 100 percent of the cost of each vest submitted for
reimbursement if this cost is not greater than $1,200, excluding taxes, shipping and
handling fees (if any).
15
  Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, Pub.
L. No. 109-162, § 1111, 119 Stat. 2960, 3094-3102.
16
  42 U.S.C. § 3751(f). The period of a grant shall be 4 years, except that renewals and
extensions beyond that period may be granted at the discretion of the Attorney General.




Page 6                                            GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
                      and 40 percent of the awards directly to local units of government. Local
                      recipients of JAG funding can receive money either as a direct payment
                      from the JAG program, as a pass-through from the SAA, or, in some
                      cases, from both the program and the SAA. 17

                      DOJ, through NIJ, establishes and updates voluntary minimum
                      performance standards for ballistic-and stab-resistant body armor,
                      conducts testing against these standards to ensure that body armor
                      complies with them, and sponsors research that includes how well body
                      armor protects officers in the line of duty and where improvements may
                      be needed. 18 NIJ works on these efforts with experts in academia and
                      other federal agencies, such as the Department of Commerce and DOD.
                      In particular, the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of
                      Standards and Technology (NIST) has supported NIJ’s body armor
                      research, performance standards, and compliance testing efforts. DOD’s
                      Technical Support Working Group (TSWG), which leverages the
                      knowledge and research capacity of body armor experts from DOD and
                      other federal agencies, has also supported NIJ’s body armor efforts.



DOJ Provides
Funding, Sponsors
Research, Sets
Standards, and
Conducts Compliance
Testing to Support
Law Enforcement’s
Use of Body Armor




                      17
                        GAO, Recovery Act: Department of Justice Could Better Assess Justice Assistance
                      Grant Program Impact, GAO-11-87 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 15, 2010).
                      18
                       A fuller discussion of the NIJ standards appears in a later section of this report.




                      Page 7                                            GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
BJA’s Two Funding
Initiatives Help
Jurisdictions Procure Body
Armor

The BVP Program              From the inception of the BVP program in fiscal year 1999 through fiscal
                             year 2011, the program awarded about $340 million to help state and
                             local jurisdictions procure nearly 1 million vests to protect their law
                             enforcement officers. 19 Specifically, the program awarded large
                             jurisdictions about $131 million and small jurisdictions nearly $208 million,
                             which is consistent with the statutory provision of the program favoring
                             jurisdictions with fewer than 100,000 people.

                             In fiscal year 2011, the BVP program implemented a policy that requires
                             that jurisdictions have mandatory wear policies in place to secure awards,
                             which means that law enforcement agencies must establish rules about
                             when and under what circumstances body armor must be worn. 20 In
                             addition, the program requires that the jurisdictions use this funding to
                             purchase only ballistic-resistant and stab-resistant body armor that
                             complies with current NIJ standards. Jurisdictions can only use BVP
                             funds to purchase one vest per officer over the course of their vest
                             replacement cycles at a maximum cost of $2,250 per vest. 21 Finally, the
                             BVP program requires that when procuring body armor with BVP awards
                             recipients do not combine BVP and JAG funding. 22 Jurisdictions apply for
                             BVP awards and reimbursable payments through the online BVP system.




                             19
                               The BVP program awarded fiscal year 2011 funds at the beginning of the next fiscal
                             year. It plans to follow the same pattern and award fiscal year 2012 funds at the beginning
                             of the next fiscal year.
                             20
                               Two of the law enforcement agencies whose officials we met with in the 10 juris dictions
                             implemented a mandatory wear policy in response to the BVP requirement. Seven of the
                             other law enforcement agencies whose officials we met with already had mandatory wear
                             policies in place. One law enforcement agency did not provide information on its body
                             armor policy.
                             21
                               Jurisdictions’ body armor replacement cycles can vary in length from 3 to 5 years,
                             according to BJA officials.
                             22
                               BVP grantees may not use JAG funding as matching funds to pay the portion of the
                             body armor costs not covered by the BVP program.




                             Page 8                                           GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
The JAG Program   From fiscal years 2006 through 2011, the JAG program awarded about
                  $4 billion, 23 including about $2 billion in funding from the American
                  Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, 24 to help state and local
                  jurisdictions fund a wide variety of criminal justice activities, including
                  corrections, prosecution and courts, and law enforcement, among
                  others. 25

                  Within the “law enforcement” area, the JAG program permits grantees to
                  purchase equipment, such as ballistic-resistant and stab-resistant vests.
                  However, BJA does not know how much grantees have spent on body
                  armor because it is not required to track expenditures for specific
                  purposes. 26 According to preliminary information from our survey of more
                  than 3,900 grantees that had received JAG awards from fiscal years 2005
                  through 2010, 222 of 1,639 respondents—or about 14 percent—noted
                  that their jurisdictions had used JAG funds to procure ballistic-resistant
                  body armor in fiscal year 2010. Another 37 grantees—or about 2
                  percent—noted that they had used JAG funding for stab-resistant vest
                  purchases during the same fiscal year. According to BJA, more than
                  1,000 JAG awards are made each year, and from fiscal years 2006
                  through 2011, 357 grantees indicated to BJA that they planned to use
                  JAG awards they received during this period to procure ballistic-resistant
                  vests. 27




                  23
                     The JAG program awarded fiscal year 2011 funds on or after August, 2011. JAG
                  officials told us that the program likely will award fiscal year 2012 funds by the end of the
                  fiscal year.
                  24
                    Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115.
                  25
                    For prior GAO work related to the JAG program, see GAO-11-87.
                  26
                    GAO-11-87.
                  27
                    According to JAG officials, if a grantee’s planned use of funds differs from its actual use
                  once it has received its award, the grantee is required to notify DOJ of this change and
                  DOJ stores the information in its records. However, JAG officials explained that the Grants
                  Management System (GMS) was designed to collect a snapshot of data and does not
                  permit updates to the identifiers so JAG staff cannot amend the original project identifiers
                  entered into GMS. As a result, the project identifiers may not necessarily reflect actual
                  purchases through grant funds.




                  Page 9                                             GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
NIJ’s Body Armor Efforts
Focus on Research, Setting
Standards, and Testing for
Compliance

Research                     NIJ’s research has led to the development of its body armor standards
                             and also informs periodic revisions to these standards. In particular, NIJ’s
                             research has supported studies to

                             •   enhance compliance test methods;
                             •   augment ballistic materials;
                             •   improve the design, comfort, and coverage of body armor;
                             •   explore the effect of increased body armor coverage on the ability of
                                 officers to comfortably carry out their duties; and
                             •   examine the effects of physical and environmental factors, such as
                                 extreme temperatures, on the performance and wear and tear of body
                                 armor.
                             NIJ also is exploring ways to enhance its body armor testing methods.
                             For example NIJ is

                             •   working through DOD’s TSWG to simulate aging on the ballistic
                                 resistant panels contained in hard body armor and then conducting
                                 age-regression studies to assess their degradation,
                             •   looking for ways to simulate extreme temperature and other
                                 environmental and physical conditions and improve related testing
                                 mechanisms for wear and tear, and
                             •   partnering with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canada’s
                                 Defense Research Establishment Valcartier to develop a protocol and
                                 specifications for testing the capacity of a vest to withstand multiple
                                 gunshots within a very small target area.
                             NIJ also serves as an information resource on body armor by posting the
                             results of its research and other relevant information to its website and
                             managing listserves of body armor news for law enforcement. Based on
                             its research and other information, NIJ also develops videos on body
                             armor procurement and usage and hosts workshops on its standards to
                             generate feedback and explore body armor issues with users,
                             researchers, and developers.




                             Page 10                                  GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Performance Standards   NIJ has been setting voluntary body armor performance standards since
                        1972. 28 It is the only federal government entity that sets body armor
                        standards and administers a program to test commercially available body
                        armor for compliance with the standards so that the armor will perform as
                        expected. NIJ is currently working to update its ballistic-resistant body
                        armor standard, last revised in 2008, and its stab-resistant body armor
                        standard, established in 2000.

                        The current NIJ standard for ballistic-resistant body armor establishes
                        minimum performance requirements and test methods intended to protect
                        against gunfire. 29 The NIJ standard classifies body armor by levels of
                        ballistic performance, as shown in appendix II. 30 For any of these
                        performance levels, NIJ’s test protocol requires that the body armor
                        protects against blunt trauma by specifying that a bullet does not cause
                        an indentation on the back of the body armor that is greater than 44
                        millimeters. NIJ measures the depth of this indentation on the clay
                        material on which the body armor is mounted, as illustrated in figure 2.




                        28
                           Meeting these performance standards is not a requirement for manufacturers; however,
                        if manufacturers voluntarily produce body armor that complies with the standards—and
                        through testing, NIJ confirms its compliance—NIJ will add the manufacturers’ products to
                        its list of NIJ-compliant vests. BVP grantees then can choose vests from among those on
                        this list when making their purchases using BVP funds.
                        29
                          NIJ, Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor, NIJ Standard-0101.06 (Washington, D.C.: July
                        2008).
                        30
                          See video (www.gao.gov/multimedia/video#video_id=588455) depicting types of
                        ballistic-resistant body armor by levels of ballistic performance.




                        Page 11                                         GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Figure 2: Ballistic-Resistant Body Armor Mounted on Clay for Testing Purposes




NIJ’s current stab-resistant body armor standard specifies the minimum
performance requirements for body armor to protect the torso against
slash and stab threats caused by knives and spikes, and describes the
methodology that NIJ uses for testing this body armor. 31 The standard
classifies stab-resistant body armor into three performance levels, based
on the body armor’s ability to prevent the stab threat from penetrating
deep enough to injure an officer’s internal organs at different strike force
speeds, or energy levels, as shown in appendix III. Also, the standard
defines two protection classes—the Edge Blade class, which deals with
threats that might be expected “on the street” from high-quality,
commercially machined edged-knife blades—and the Spike class, which
addresses threats that might be expected in a corrections environment
from lower-quality knife blades and spike-style weapons improvised from
other materials.




31
  NIJ, Stab Resistance of Personal Body Armor, NIJ Standard-0115.00 (Washington,
D.C.: September 2000).




Page 12                                       GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
                                         To update both the ballistic- and stab-resistant body armor standards, NIJ
                                         is using a new process that relies on several groups, each with a distinct
                                         charge, as illustrated in table 1. 32

Table 1: Groups and Committees Currently Involved in NIJ’s Process to Update Body Armor Standards

Group                    Composition                                                        Charge
Body Armor Technology    Made up of experienced practitioners from local, state, tribal and •   Identify the need for a new or
Working Group            federal agencies and laboratories involved in testing body armor.      updated standard.
                                                                                            •   Develop a list of practitioners’
                                                                                                operational needs and
                                                                                                requirements.
Special Technical        Has 15 to 20 stakeholders. They include law enforcement and        Produce three documentsb
Committee (STC)          corrections practitioners with relevant experience. They also      •   the standard itself,
                         include technical experts such as engineers, scientists,
                                                                                            •   a conformity assessment
                         researchers, test laboratory representatives, and standard
                                                a                                               requirements document, and
                         development experts.
                                                                                            •   a selection and application guide.
Advisory Working Group   Includes senior-level representatives from major stakeholder                 Provide input to and review the work of
                         organizations, such as NIST, the Department of Homeland                      the STC.
                         Security (DHS), Fraternal Order of Police, National Tactical
                         Officers Association, IACP, National Sheriffs’ Association, and
                         American Correctional Association.
Steering Committee       Consists of the following senior advisors: NIJ Deputy Director for Generally direct the updating effort and
                         Science and Technology; Director, Bureau of Justice Assistance; help to ensure coordination among
                         Director, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services;          relevant federal programs.
                         Standards Executive, DHS Science and Technology; Director,
                         First Responders Group, DHS Science and Technology;
                         Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS; and
                         Director, NIST, Office of Law Enforcement Standards.
                                         Source: GAO analysis of NIJ information.
                                         a
                                          NIJ does not permit body armor industry representatives to be members of the STC. According to
                                         NIJ, this provision was put in place to avoid conflicts of interest and to facilitate the participation of law
                                         enforcement practitioners. NIJ holds workshops to inform manufactures and expects that they will
                                         participate in the public review of the draft standard and related documents that the STC produces.
                                         b
                                          The standard contains the minimum design and performance requirements that the body armor must
                                         meet, as well as the test methods to be used to assess the performance. The conformity assessment
                                         requirements document includes all requirements for a third party independent conformity
                                         assessment organization to demonstrate that body armor meets the standard and typically includes
                                         periodic factory surveillance and follow-up testing of production items. The selection and application
                                         guide provides a nontechnical description of the standard and conformity assessment requirements;
                                         performance levels, if applicable; and guidance on procurement, selection, care, maintenance,
                                         training, and administrative issues.




                                         32
                                           NIJ expects to document the new process in detail in a Standard Development Process
                                         document in April 2012.




                                         Page 13                                                    GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
                     Regarding NIJ’s update of its stab-resistant body armor standard from
                     2000, the Special Technical Committee (STC) expects to finish its draft
                     documents—the standards and related requirements and guide—by June
                     2012. At that point, NIJ plans to post them for public review so that body
                     armor manufacturers, and any other interested parties, may submit
                     comments. The STC then plans to address the comments and refine its
                     draft documents and NIJ plans to have any necessary validation testing
                     performed. Once NIJ reviews and publishes the updated standard and
                     related documents, compliance testing of body armor against the new
                     standard will begin. NIJ hopes to complete this entire process by
                     December 2012. In terms of updating its ballistic-resistant body armor
                     standard from 2008, NIJ’s Body Armor Technology Working Group held a
                     meeting to identify needs and requirements in December 2011. NIJ
                     expects to establish the STC by May 2012 and finalize the standard in
                     November 2013.

Compliance Testing   To test body armor for compliance with its standards, NIJ uses its
                     National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center
                     (NLECTC) to administer its compliance testing program.

                     During compliance testing, manufacturers

                     •    register with the compliance testing program,
                     •    submit body armor model application documents to the program, and
                     •    send body armor model samples to an NIJ-approved laboratory. 33
                     NIJ-approved laboratories tested 159 body armor models under the NIJ
                     compliance testing program in 2010—137 models of ballistic-resistant
                     body armor and 22 stab-resistant models. Of the 159 models, 81 of them,
                     or about half, passed compliance testing and NIJ added them to the
                     appropriate compliant product list. We include additional details on the
                     controls that NIJ has designed to manage its compliance testing process
                     in the next section of this report.




                     33
                       The requirements for laboratories to obtain NIJ approval are discussed in a later section
                     of this report.




                     Page 14                                          GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
DOJ Has Controls and
Coordination
Mechanisms for Its
Body Armor Efforts
but Could Take
Actions to Further
Reduce Management
Risks
BVP Has Designed Several            Within its BVP program, BJA has designed several controls to check the
Controls to Manage Its              eligibility of grantee payment requests, help prevent improper payments
Program                             to grantees, and ensure grantee compliance with program requirements.

Controls to Ensure Eligibility of   BJA has designed several controls within the online BVP system to
Payment Requests                    ensure the eligibility of payment requests. Specifically, the online BVP
                                    system is designed to

                                    •   allow only jurisdictions approved through the award process to submit
                                        payment requests to ensure the eligibility of the jurisdictions;
                                    •   require that the highest elected official in the jurisdiction, or his or her
                                        designee, electronically verify payment requests to ensure
                                        accountability;
                                    •   allow BVP funding recipients to request payments for purchased vest
                                        models approved by NIJ, which appear on the drop-down list within
                                        the online system, to ensure that funds are only used for NIJ-
                                        compliant body armor;
                                    •   require BVP funding recipients to manually enter details from the
                                        purchase invoice, including the quantity, date ordered, and unit price
                                        to ensure that the body armor was purchased within the 2-year period
                                        specified in the terms of the BVP award and enhance accountability
                                        by allowing the request to be traced back to a specific purchase; and
                                    •   not allow BVP funding recipients to enter costs exceeding the
                                        authorized limit of $2,250 per vest.
Review Procedures to Help           To help prevent improper payments, BJA procedures call for BJA to
Prevent Improper Payments           review monthly batches of all payment requests submitted during the
                                    previous 1-month period to (1) detect anomalies between the total
                                    number of vests purchased by each jurisdiction and the number of
                                    officers in the jurisdiction and (2) identify potential duplicate requests. To
                                    detect anomalies in the number of vests purchased by a jurisdiction, BJA


                                    Page 15                                    GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
is to compare the number of vests the jurisdiction purchased using BVP
funding over the previous 3-year period to the number of officers in the
jurisdiction. If the number of vests the jurisdiction purchased during the 3-
year period exceeds the number of officers in the jurisdiction by more
than 10 percent, then BJA is to ask the jurisdiction to provide a response
to support the large number of vests purchased. 34

To identify potential duplicate requests, BJA is to review all payment
requests submitted during the 1-month period under review. If BJA
identifies two or more payment requests from one jurisdiction with similar
total costs, numbers of vests, purchase dates, vest manufacturers, vest
model numbers, or threat levels, then BJA is to require the jurisdiction to
provide a response indicating whether the payment requests are
accurate. BJA officials stated that if the responses that jurisdictions
provide are not satisfactory, then they may request copies of the invoices
to support the jurisdictions’ payment requests; however, BJA has not
documented the circumstances under which it will request the invoices.
During the course of our review, BJA officials told us they intended to
update the written procedures to include a description of the methods for
reviewing invoices and the additional steps they would like their staff to
take to identify duplicate payment requests. They said they were doing
this in response to a November 2011 review by OJP’s Office of Audit,
Assessment, and Management (OAAM). 35 BJA officials told us they
expect to update the BVP system in March 2012 to automatically check
for potential duplicate payment requests submitted during the previous 2
years and that they will revise their procedures shortly thereafter. Fully
documenting a program’s procedures would be consistent with standards
for internal control in the federal government and could help ensure that
BJA’s review process is consistently implemented. 36 In January 2012,
OJP officials told us that to further enhance financial controls, they
intended to include a review of BVP payments in the financial monitoring


34
  BJA allows for a 10 percent variance in the number of vests purchased over a 3-year
period as compared to the number of officers in the jurisdiction to account for officer
turnover.
35
  The Office of Audit, Assessment, and Management (OAAM) supports DOJ’s grant
efforts by coordinating and developing grant policies across the agency and overseeing
and monitoring grantees and grant programs. OAAM, Review of the Bureau of Justice
Assistance Verification Process for Payment Programs (Washington, D.C.: November
2011).
36
 GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.




Page 16                                          GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
                               site visits that OJP’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer plans to conduct
                               this year. This type of ongoing monitoring is consistent with standards for
                               internal control and could be integral to helping BJA with the effective
                               stewardship of government resources. 37

Efforts to Ensure Compliance   To help ensure compliance with its new fiscal year 2011 requirement that
with Mandatory Wear            jurisdictions have mandatory body armor wear policies in place, the BVP
Requirements                   program asked a random sample of 110 of the 4,960 jurisdictions to
                               which it awarded fiscal year 2011 funds to submit copies of their
                               mandatory wear policies for BJA’s review. 38 In addition, BJA officials told
                               us they are randomly selecting 5 percent of the jurisdictions requesting
                               payments from fiscal year 2011 awards to obtain a copy of their
                               mandatory wear policy as part of BJA’s monthly payment request
                               reviews. Seeking supporting documentation from a random selection of
                               all grantees has been identified as a grant management best practice by
                               DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General. 39


BJA Could Enhance              BJA has designed several controls, but it could take two key actions to
Controls over the BVP          strengthen them. These are better management of undisbursed funds
Program to Better Manage       from grants in the BVP program that have closed and improved efforts to
                               reduce the risk of grantee noncompliance with program requirements.
Risk
BJA Could Improve the          The BVP program has not deobligated undisbursed funds for future use
Management of Undisbursed      from grant awards whose terms have ended. BJA could improve its
Funds from Grants in the BVP   financial controls by better managing its obligations and disbursements
Program That Have Closed       for grants that have closed.

                               Figure 3 shows the trends in BVP program awards (obligations) and
                               disbursements, or reimbursements, from fiscal years 1999 through 2011.




                               37
                                 GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.
                               38
                                 According to BVP program officials, 108 of the 110 jurisdictions have provided
                               mandatory wear policies. The BVP program will not make BVP funds available to the
                               remaining 2 jurisdictions until the jurisdictions provide copies of their mandatory wear
                               policies.
                               39
                                 DOJ, Office of the Inspector General, Improving the Grant Management Process
                               (Washington, D.C.: February 2009).




                               Page 17                                           GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
In most years, disbursements generally track with obligations; however,
they show greater differences in some years. 40

Figure 3: BVP Program Awards and Disbursements from Fiscal Years 1999 through
2011




Note: In current dollars, not adjusted for inflation.


From the start of fiscal year 1999 through November 2011, the BVP
program had awarded—or obligated—approximately $340 million to
grantees. Of this amount, the program disbursed about $247 million to
grantees through reimbursements. The $93 million difference reflects
funds that BJA has awarded but for which grantees have not sought
reimbursement. According to BJA officials, several reasons explain why
grantees might not seek reimbursements from BJA:


40
   Because the BVP program awards funds for one fiscal year at the beginning of the next
fiscal year, recipients had not used the bulk of their 2010 and 2011 fiscal year awards by
November 2011, which is reflected in the drop-off in reimbursements—or disbursements—
in the figure.




Page 18                                                 GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
•   their grant term has not yet ended or they have been awarded an
    extension, 41
•   they decided not to purchase some or all of the intended vests, or
•   they purchased vests using funds from other sources.
BJA reports that the $93 million in undisbursed funds can be broken down
in the following manner (see also fig. 4):

•   About $14 million in funds that BJA deobligated. BJA first awarded
    this money from fiscal years 1999 through 2008, but because
    grantees never claimed it, BJA was able to deobligate the money.
    According to BJA officials, once they deobligated the $14 million, they
    used it in two ways: (1) $8 million was used to offset a 2009 rescission
    in DOJ’s budget 42 and (2) the balance helped fund additional BVP
    program awards.
•   About $27 million in funds that BJA could deobligate. BJA first
    awarded this money from fiscal years 2002 through 2009. The grant
    terms for each of these grantees have ended and as a result,
    grantees are no longer eligible for reimbursement. Thus, BJA could
    deobligate funds from these grants that have closed.
•   About $52 million in funds from awards whose terms have not yet
    ended. BJA awarded the bulk of this money in either fiscal year 2010
    or fiscal year 2011 so grantees can still submit payment requests and
    the funds remain available for grantee reimbursement.




41
  Beginning with awards made in fiscal year 2008, BVP has automatically extended the 2-
year grant term for those grantees that still had undisbursed BVP award balance amounts
from prior fiscal years. In practice, this means that if a grantee with an expiring BVP award
applies for additional funding in a subsequent fiscal year, the program automatically
extends the term of the award that is expiring for another 2 years and subtracts the
amount of extended funds from the new award.
42
   Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-8, § 529(b), 123 Stat. 524, 600-01.
A rescission is legislation passed by Congress that cancels the availability of budgetary
authority previously enacted before the authority would otherwise expire. According to
DOJ officials, the 2009 rescission affected the entire department and DOJ looked to all of
its programs for deobligated funds that could offset the impact.




Page 19                                           GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Figure 4: Status of $93 Million in Undisbursed BVP Funding, Fiscal Years 1999 through 2011




                                         Note: In current dollars, not adjusted for inflation.


                                         In response to our audit work, BVP program officials told us that, as of
                                         February 2012, they and their colleagues in the Office of the Chief
                                         Financial Officer were in the process of examining the $27 million
                                         available for possible deobligation and considering how to use it.
                                         However, DOJ had not yet made a final decision on this matter before we
                                         finalized this report, and officials stated that a decision likely would not be
                                         made until September 2012. Once a grant’s term has ended, a granting
                                         agency typically closes out the grant and deobligates the funds. We have




                                         Page 20                                                 GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
                               previously reported that grant closeout is an important final point of
                               accountability for grantees, ensuring that they have met all program
                               requirements. 43 Closing out grants also allows agencies to identify and
                               redirect funds to other projects and priorities or return the funding to the
                               Treasury. In the case of the BVP program, since Congress appropriates
                               its funds though no-year appropriations, DOJ does not have to return
                               deobligated BVP funds to the Treasury. Instead, it could enhance its
                               management of BVP funding through its grants closeout process by, for
                               example, redirecting any funds from closed grants to grantees in future
                               award cycles or reducing the amount it requests in new appropriations. 44
                               Given that the BVP program requested $30 million—and received about
                               $23 million—in fiscal year 2012, deobligating this $27 million could have
                               significant benefits. 45

BJA Could Reduce the Risk of   The BVP program lists its requirements, such as those related to
Grantee Noncompliance by       document retention and the prohibition on combining BVP and JAG
Better Publicizing BVP         funds, in limited areas, thus increasing the risk that grantees will not be
Program Requirements           aware of them. By expanding publicity of the program requirements, BJA
                               could reduce the risk of noncompliance and increase the efficiency of its
                               operations. Specifically, the BVP program requires that jurisdictions retain
                               documentation on all BVP transactions for at least 3 years and prohibits
                               the use of JAG funding to help pay for the portion of the grantees’ costs
                               that the BVP program does not cover. Currently, these requirements are
                               only specifically cited in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the
                               BVP program’s website. They are not included in other grant documents,
                               such as the solicitation, or online BVP system where grantees could more




                               43
                                 See GAO, Grants Management: Attention Needed to Address Undisbursed Balances in
                               Expired Grant Accounts, GAO-08-432 (Washington, D.C.: Aug 29, 2008). In addition, the
                               DOJ Inspector General has reported on the importance of timely grant closeout. See DOJ,
                               Office of the Inspector General, The Department of Justice’s Grant Closeout Process,
                               Audit Report 07-05, (Washington, D.C.: December 2006).
                               44
                                 The National Procurement Fraud Task Force’s Grant Fraud Committee, which is chaired
                               by DOJ’s Inspector General, also has reported on the importance of closing grants in a
                               timely manner. See the committee’s report A Guide to Grant Oversight and Best Practices
                               for Combating Grant Fraud (Washington, D.C.: February 2009).
                               45
                                 The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012, Pub. L. No. 112-55,
                               125 Stat. 552, 616, provided $24 million to BVP program for law enforcement armor vests,
                               including $1.5 million transferred directly to NIST’s Office of Law Enforcement Standards
                               for research, testing, and evaluation programs.




                               Page 21                                         GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
easily notice them and be aware. 46 Emphasizing the need to comply with
grant award requirements and including clear terms and conditions in
funding award documents are leading practices in improving grant
accountability and are fundamental to internal control standards. 47 BJA
could improve its emphasis by, for example, including these requirements
in its solicitation announcing the availability of BVP funds and in its online
system for tracking fund use.

None of the officials we met with from the 10 jurisdictions was aware of
any specific BVP documentation retention requirements. Further, officials
from 4 of these jurisdictions were not aware of the prohibition on using
JAG funds as matching funds for the BVP program. All of the officials told
us that as a matter of practice, however, they retain their documents and
had not been combining JAG and BVP funds. It was not within our scope
to independently verify their compliance or assess the extent to which all
BVP program grantees were aware of the documentation retention and
matching fund requirements. Nevertheless, the fact that all 10 of the
jurisdictions within our sample were unaware of the documentation
retention requirement and 4 jurisdictions were unaware of the prohibition
on combining BVP and JAG funds raises questions about the risks
associated with noncompliance, such as financial mismanagement.
Further, since the Office of the Chief Financial Officer has not yet begun
any on-site financial monitoring of BVP grantees, it will be difficult for BJA
to assess and mitigate these risks until the site visits are under way. BJA
officials told us that the Help Desk had commonly referred BVP recipients
to the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the website, but
acknowledged that better disseminating and publicizing information would




46
  OJP’s Financial Guide, which is a general reference manual for all DOJ awards, also
includes information on the requirement that award recipients retain records for
“equipment” for a 3-year period and the prohibition against commingling different sources
of federal funding, but the guide is not specific to the BVP program and does not explicitly
state how these provisions apply to BVP funding recipients.
47
 See GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1. See also Grant Accountability Project, Guide to
Opportunities for Improving Grant Accountability.




Page 22                                           GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
help ensure that BVP recipients comply with the documentation and
matching fund requirements. 48

BJA officials stated that BJA was planning to include information on the
prohibition on using JAG funds as matching funds for the BVP program in
the fiscal year 2012 BVP announcement and application that they plan to
release in April 2012, partly in response to our review. The officials did
not have plans to further publicize the documentation retention
requirement. Emphasizing the need to comply with these program
requirements could help BJA improve grant accountability.

BJA also has developed an instructional manual to assist jurisdictions in
using the online BVP system to complete applications and funding
requests. 49 However, none of the officials we met with from the 10
jurisdictions was aware of this resource and they all indicated that they
rely on the Help Desk when they have questions concerning the online
system. BJA officials told us they wanted to make the manual easily
accessible to jurisdictions by making it available through the program’s
website, but acknowledged that including links to the manual in the grant
solicitation and the online system could help further raise grantees’
awareness of this resource and the information it provides. BJA officials
stated that they plan to include information on the manual in the fiscal
year 2012 BVP announcement and application that they expect to release
in April 2012, partly in response to our review. Further disseminating
information about this resource would be consistent with standards for
internal control and could help improve the efficiency of the program by
providing jurisdictions with relevant information up front and potentially
reducing the number of calls and emails to the Help Desk.




48
  To address jurisdictions’ questions about the BVP program, BJA has established a Help
Desk that can be reached through a toll-free telephone number or by email. From January
to December 2011, the Help Desk received 22,663 telephone calls and 9,650 emails.
According to the BVP program’s records, call and email volume to the Help Desk was
generally consistent from fiscal year 2008 through 2010; however, we found that from
2010 through 2011, call volume increased nearly 30 percent and email volume doubled.
BVP officials did not provide an explanation for these spikes.
49
  The instructional manual provides definitions of the required elements that jurisdictions
need to input into the online system and step-by-step instructions for how to review
applications and payment requests from the law enforcement agencies in the jurisdiction’s
purview.




Page 23                                          GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
BJA Could Improve               BJA could improve consistency across its body armor grant programs by
Controls over the JAG           harmonizing JAG and BVP purchase and wear requirements. It also could
Program Related to Body         strengthen its monitoring practices for grantees’ compliance with existing
                                program requirements. Further, BJA could enhance its tracking of which
Armor                           grantees use JAG awards to purchase body armor to facilitate
                                compliance with all existing and any new requirements it might add.

Harmonizing Program             Unlike the BVP program, the JAG program does not require that grantees
Requirements to Ensure          using JAG funding for body armor purchases have mandatory wear
Consistency                     policies in place or purchase armor that is NIJ compliant. BJA could
                                enhance its grant management controls by harmonizing requirements
                                across the BVP and JAG programs so that both are holding grantees
                                accountable to the same standards designed to ensure officer safety. We
                                have previously identified establishing mutually reinforcing strategies and
                                compatible policies and procedures as key coordination practices. 50 BJA
                                officials told us that the mandatory wear and NIJ compliance
                                requirements were implemented for the BVP program because
                                jurisdictions use BVP funding more often than JAG funding to purchase
                                body armor. They told us in January 2012 that as a result of our audit
                                work, they planned to begin a review to consider inclusion of these
                                requirements in the JAG program. BJA officials did not provide an
                                estimate for how long such a review would take and did not state whether
                                such a requirement would be included. However, the officials
                                acknowledged that they had not considered addressing the
                                inconsistencies before. Establishing body armor requirements within JAG
                                that are consistent with the BVP program could help BJA better promote
                                officer safety. This could help reduce the risk that officers do not wear the
                                body armor that was purchased with federal funds or that they are
                                wearing body armor that does not meet NIJ standards, given that both our
                                survey and BJA’s data show that JAG grantees are using funds to
                                purchase body armor.

Strengthening Monitoring and    BJA could strengthen its monitoring practices to better ensure compliance
Guidance to Prevent Misuse of   with the prohibition on combining JAG and BVP program awards by
Funds                           documenting pertinent monitoring procedures. Currently, BJA grant
                                managers perform desk reviews, in which officials review grant
                                documentation off-site, to assess compliance with general programmatic
                                requirements. During these desk reviews, BJA officials told us that JAG



                                50
                                 GAO-06-15.




                                Page 24                                  GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
grant managers use a checklist to guide their monitoring and
acknowledged that this checklist did not contain specifics for monitoring
instances where BVP and JAG funding were combined. Officials said that
grant managers are trained to check for inappropriate accounting
practices no matter what program they are reviewing, but they did not
provide evidence of this guidance in the training curriculum and
acknowledged that a documented procedure to specifically check for the
combining of BVP and JAG funding was needed. They also
acknowledged that the cost of documenting this monitoring step would
not be prohibitive. Documenting grant managers’ desk review procedures
for monitoring compliance with this requirement would be consistent with
standards for internal control in the federal government. In addition, such
documentation could help ensure consistency in grant managers’
monitoring practices, which in turn could help BJA better ensure grantees’
compliance with JAG program requirements.

BJA also could strengthen its guidance to JAG grantees on the prohibition
against combining BVP and JAG funds to purchase body armor. BJA
officials acknowledged that, as with the BVP program, the current
“Frequently Asked Questions” section of the JAG program’s website is
the only place that grantees can learn of the program requirement that
JAG funds not be used as matching funds for the BVP program.
Currently, the prohibition is not contained in the JAG program grant
solicitation or within the Grants Management System (GMS). BJA officials
recognized the importance of grantees’ compliance with the prohibition on
combining JAG and BVP funds and explained two additional controls they
are planning to implement to enhance the information they provide to
grantees on this topic, partly in response to our audit work. First, they
have drafted a new section of the “Frequently Asked Questions”
document that they plan to post on their website, pending final review, to
better inform grantees of the prohibition on using JAG funds as matching
funds for the BVP program. Second, they drafted a “special condition”
that describes the prohibition on combining BVP and JAG funding that
they plan to include in the JAG grant agreement, once this condition has
been approved. 51 The special condition will require prospective grantees
to certify that they will not use JAG funds to match their BVP funds or
combine JAG and BVP funds to purchase the same vests. The officials



51
  Special conditions set forth specific terms that grantees must meet, in addition to the
general conditions associated with the grant, in order to receive funds.




Page 25                                           GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
                               told us they expected to include these documents in the fiscal year 2012
                               grant cycle, which they thought would be announced in March 2012.
                               Improved dissemination of this requirement could help ensure conformity
                               with internal control standards and leading grant management practices.

Enhance Tracking of Funds to   BJA has limited visibility over which JAG grantees are using their awards
Ensure Compliance              for body armor purchases. BJA could enhance its tracking to know which
                               grantees used the JAG funds for this purpose and, as a result, be better
                               informed and better positioned to target its monitoring for compliance with
                               existing body armor requirements and any new ones the JAG program
                               might add, consistent with standards for internal control. Currently, BJA
                               uses the online Grants Management System (GMS) to track JAG
                               spending across more than 150 specific categories—each associated
                               with a “project identifier.” BJA officials explained that since fiscal year
                               2011, they have required potential grantees to select up to five identifiers
                               that reflect the significant ways in which they planned to use their JAG
                               funds. If the applicants do not select any identifiers, or if JAG grant
                               managers believe different identifiers are more appropriate, the grant
                               managers can select as many identifiers as they deem appropriate and
                               enter them directly into GMS. 52 Although “bulletproof vest” is among the
                               project identifiers, no project identifier exists that could be used for stab-
                               resistant vests.

                               Officials told us that in response to our audit work, they would consider
                               adding an identifier for “stab-resistant” vests in the future. However, BJA
                               had not made a decision on this matter before we finalized our report.
                               Although BJA officials acknowledge that project identifiers have
                               limitations when used to track spending, they noted that enhancing GMS
                               with mechanisms more precise than the identifiers would take a
                               significant financial investment. Thus, they agree that maximizing the
                               utility of the existing project identifier system—by adding another vest
                               category—would be a low-cost way of better understanding JAG
                               spending on body armor in the meantime.




                               52
                                 Prior to this time, JAG program staff selected the identifiers for the grantees based upon
                               the planned activities the grantee described in its application.




                               Page 26                                           GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
NIJ Has Designed
Mechanisms to Coordinate
and Control Its Body
Armor Efforts

NIJ’s Coordination of Body     In addition to body armor research that NIJ funds through cooperative
Armor Research and Standards   agreements with universities and research institutions, NIJ also has a
Development                    collaborative body armor research effort with NIST. Under an interagency
                               agreement, NIJ and NIST negotiate an annual fiscal year program plan
                               and statement of work for NIST to provide technical and research
                               services to support NIJ’s standards and compliance testing programs,
                               including test laboratory accreditation. We have previously reported that
                               establishing agency plans, such as the NIST program plan, is a key
                               collaboration practice that can reinforce agency accountability and ensure
                               that goals are consistent and mutually reinforcing. 53 For example,
                               selected fiscal year 2011 NIST projects to support NIJ body armor efforts
                               included

                               •     research of the links between mechanical damage (e.g., stitching,
                                     bending, folding, or stretching) of common body armor materials and
                                     ballistic performance to determine how well the test protocol in the
                                     current ballistic-resistant body armor standard simulates real-life
                                     mechanical wear and
                               •     proficiency testing to understand how different body armor test
                                     laboratories compare with each other and support enhancements to
                                     the laboratory accreditation program.
                               NIJ has also designed mechanisms to leverage and share information on
                               body armor with DOD and federal, state, and local law enforcement
                               practitioners. For example, NIJ participates in DOD’s interagency
                               Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office’s TSWG, which conducts
                               research and development to identify and address the needs of federal,
                               state, and local organizations that have responsibilities to prevent and
                               respond to terrorism. TSWG has a personnel protection subgroup that
                               focuses on developing techniques that improve the performance of body
                               armor by reducing weight and optimizing material performance, among
                               other things. NIJ participates in this subgroup joining NIST, the U.S.
                               Secret Service, and the Department of Energy, among others. Currently,


                               53
                                   GAO-06-15.




                               Page 27                                   GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
TSWG is leveraging resources and expertise from across participating
agencies to conduct research on body armor technology to reduce blunt
trauma and optimize the design of multithreat body armor worn beneath
an officer’s uniform, as well as similarly worn lightweight armor, among
other things.

In addition, NIJ has established the Law Enforcement and Corrections
Technology Advisory Council and the Body Armor Technology Working
Group, which consist of federal, state, and local law enforcement
practitioners, to identify the body armor needs of and solicit opinions from
the law enforcement community. NIJ and NIST take the practitioners’
input into account when developing the annual body armor research
program plan. For example, the fiscal year 2010 program plan called for
NIST to convene a workshop to evaluate the test methods for hard body
armor in response to concerns raised by the Body Armor Technology
Working Group. Finally, NIJ holds public conferences and workshops
where the results of body armor research conducted by NIJ, DOD, NIST,
and others are presented. These coordination mechanisms help NIJ
leverage resources to identify and address body armor needs, consistent
with key practices to help enhance and sustain collaboration among
federal agencies. 54

Another way that NIJ coordinates with stakeholders in the body armor
arena is through its new process to update its standards, which we
described in an earlier section of this report. All six of the body armor
manufacturers and both of the ballistic-resistant and stab-resistant
materials manufacturers we met with expressed concerns that the new
standards revision process would not afford them sufficient opportunities
to provide input. However, according to NIJ officials, any interested party,
including manufacturers, may participate in the process to develop the
standards by providing input at public workshops or providing comments
on the draft document. Given that this new standards revision process
was still under way during the production of our report, it was too soon to
tell how effective the process will be in leveraging stakeholders’
knowledge and meeting globally accepted principles for stakeholder




54
 GAO-06-15.




Page 28                                  GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
                           involvement in standards development, such as openness, due process,
                           and transparency. 55

NIJ Controls Designed to   NIJ requires that body armor models being tested for NIJ compliance be
Manage Body Armor          examined at a laboratory that NIJ has approved. To obtain such approval,
Compliance Testing         a laboratory must

                           •    be accredited by NIST’s National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation
                                Program as meeting general international standards for laboratory
                                technical competence and quality management, as well as meeting
                                specific technical requirements to perform the body armor tests
                                contained in the NIJ standards; 56
                           •    be an independent, third-party laboratory and conduct all body armor
                                compliance testing within the United States; and
                           •    demonstrate its freedom from potential conflicts of interest and
                                maintain an independent decisional relationship from its clients,
                                affiliates, contractors, and other organizations.
                           In addition to undergoing laboratory ballistic or stab-resistance testing, the
                           body armor models must meet workmanship and labeling requirements. 57
                           To ensure the integrity of the compliance testing results, laboratories
                           send the test results directly to NLECTC, whose staff review the test
                           results for compliance. NIJ then reviews the compliance test data and
                           NLECTC’s recommendation and makes the final compliance decision.
                           Figure 5 illustrates this process.




                           55
                            For a discussion of globally accepted principles for developing standards, see American
                           National Standards Institute, United States Standards Strategy.
                           56
                             As set forth in 15 C.F.R. pt. 285, the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation
                           Program (NVLAP) accredits testing and calibration laboratories that are found competent
                           to perform specific tests or calibrations or types of tests or calibrations. The procedures,
                           requirements, and guidance for NVLAP accreditation of body armor testing and calibration
                           laboratories are set forth in NIST Handbook 150, NVLAP Procedures and General
                           Requirements, and in NIST Handbook 150-24, NVLAP Personal Body Armor.
                           57
                             The laboratories inspect the body armor samples and ensure that they are identical and
                           free of inferior workmanship, such as wrinkles, blisters, fabric tears, or fraying. The
                           laboratories also inspect the body armor labels to ensure that they contain all required
                           information specified in the standard, such as the name of the manufacturer, the rated
                           level of protection, the date of manufacture, and identification of the proper orientation of
                           the armor relative to the wearer.




                           Page 29                                           GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Figure 5: NIJ Compliance Testing Process




To further enhance the compliance testing program and ensure that the
body armor used by law enforcement and corrections officers is safe and



Page 30                                    GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
reliable, NIJ has implemented a follow-up inspection and testing
requirement. Under this requirement, each body armor manufacturer with
an NIJ-compliant ballistic-resistant body armor model is subject to six
follow-up inspections and testing over a 60-month period, consisting of

•    inspections of recently manufactured body armor samples to
     determine if the body armor in production continues to be constructed
     in the same way as the samples that were submitted for compliance
     testing and
•    ballistic testing to ensure that unnoticed or unintentional variations
     have not occurred during the manufacturing process that could affect
     the performance of the armor. 58
Currently, only NIJ-compliant ballistic-resistant body armor is subject to
follow-up inspection and testing, but NIJ plans to implement a follow-up
inspection and testing requirement for NIJ-compliant stab-resistant body
armor following the issuance of the new stab-resistant body armor
standard in December of 2012.

NIJ is taking steps to increase the uniformity of compliance testing
procedures to address factors that may affect the outcome of ballistic or
stab compliance testing. Officials we met with from all six of the body
armor manufacturers expressed concerns that the results of the
compliance tests may be affected by factors not controlled for in the
standards’ testing protocols. For example, three manufacturers said that
they believe that variations in the clay that body armor is mounted to
during ballistic testing could affect test results. NIJ has provided funding
to NIST to conduct research to develop guidelines to standardize the
process for building the clay-filled backing material fixtures used in
ballistic testing to improve the repeatability of tests. NIJ expects to
incorporate the results of this research in the update of the ballistic-
resistant body armor standard. In addition, five of the six manufacturers
raised concerns about the treatment of female body armor, and cited the
lack of a clear definition that describes what constitutes female body
armor and the lack of specific detailed protocols for testing female body
armor. NIJ has recognized this as a challenge for the compliance testing
program and has provided funding to NIST to conduct research to


58
   The ballistic testing conducted in the follow-up inspection and testing reflects only a
portion of the ballistic testing that is conducted during the initial compliance testing, and it
is therefore not a conclusive indication that the armor in production would satisfy the full
requirements of the NIJ standard.




Page 31                                             GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
                       develop standard definitions of body armor types and standardized test
                       methods for assessing the performance of contoured body armor
                       designs. NIJ expects to incorporate the results of this research in the
                       update of both the stab- and ballistic-resistant body armor standards.
                       Additionally, NIST officials told us that they were working with NIJ to
                       develop proficiency testing protocols to compare testing results across
                       NIJ-approved laboratories as part of NIST’s effort to meet international
                       standards for this type of compliance testing within the next 3 years. 59


                       Body armor’s ability to protect an officer during a critical incident depends
DOJ Has Taken Steps    upon 1) whether the officer is wearing body armor and 2) the level of
to Address Factors     performance and the effectiveness of the armor he or she is wearing. A
                       number of factors can affect the use and effectiveness of body armor. For
That Affect the Use    example, agency policies as well as the comfort, fit, and coverage of the
and Effectiveness of   body armor can affect use. Body armor fit and coverage can also affect
                       the effectiveness of the armor, along with factors including degradation
Body Armor             because of wear and tear, care and maintenance, and exposure to
                       environmental conditions. DOJ has taken steps to address these factors
                       and has efforts under way to further advance the use and effectiveness of
                       body armor. In particular, NIJ expects to complete an evaluation within
                       the next 3 years on the impact of its body armor efforts on law
                       enforcement practices and policies and on body armor design and quality.

                       Agency policies. Agency policies to purchase and mandate the wearing
                       of body armor can promote body armor use. An NIJ-funded 2011 survey
                       conducted by the Police Research Executive Forum found that agency
                       policy was the second most cited reason, behind safety concerns, why
                       officers wore body armor. 60 Further, DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics
                       reports that in 2007—the most recently available data—an estimated 80
                       percent of local police officers were employed by a department with some
                       type of body armor wear requirement, compared to 74 percent in 2003,




                       59
                        See ISO/IEC Guide 65: 1996, General Requirements for Bodies Operating Product
                       Certification Systems.
                       60
                        Heath Grant, Bruce Kubu, Bruce Taylor, Jack Roberts, Megan Collins, and Daniel J.
                       Woods, Standing Up Under Fire- Body Armor Use, Care, and Performance in Real World
                       Conditions: Findings from a National Survey, (forthcoming).




                       Page 32                                      GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
and 30 percent in 1990. 61 Several DOJ activities have addressed agency
policy. For example:

•   BVP funding for body armor has been instrumental in helping
    jurisdictions provide body armor for their officers’ use, according to all
    10 of the jurisdictions in our sample.
•   BJA provided funding to support the development of IACP’s model
    body armor wear policy. Once BJA required BVP applicants to have a
    written mandatory wear policy in place to receive funding, it made the
    IACP model policy available to jurisdictions upon request to assist
    them in fulfilling this requirement.
•   NIJ has produced an informational video on body armor that highlights
    the benefits of the BVP program. See video
    (www.gao.gov/multimedia/video#video_id=588456) providing
    information on the BVP program.
Comfort, fit, and coverage. Comfort, fit, and coverage affect both the
use and effectiveness of body armor. For example, body armor can
create discomfort for an officer through reduced mobility, increased
weight, heat buildup under the armor, and chafing—thereby causing him
or her to discontinue its use. Officials from one law enforcement
association noted that complaints about body armor heat buildup are not
restricted to officers in hot climates, such as Arizona, and that officers in
temperate climates, such as Washington State also report experiencing
discomfort from heat. In addition, if the body armor is poorly fitting, it can
create both discomfort and affect total coverage area. Body armor that
extends too low in the front can cause discomfort by hitting the officer’s
gun belt which can cause the vest to ride up toward the officer’s throat or
pinch the skin of the abdomen between the gun belt and the armor. Body
armor that is not wide enough can leave portions of the officer’s sides
unprotected. One manufacturer explained that if body armor does not fit
properly, it can develop set wrinkles that become weak spots in the armor
and reduce its protection.

Designing comfortable, well-fitting body armor for female officers is
particularly a challenge, according to the six body armor manufacturers in


61
  The Bureau of Justice Statistics is a component of OJP with a mission to collect,
analyze, publish and disseminate information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of
crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government. Bureau of Justice
Statistics, Local Police Departments, 2007, NCJ 231174 (Washington, D.C.: December
2010).




Page 33                                          GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
our sample. One manufacturer explained that constructing formfitting bust
cups requires additional stitching that can weaken the ballistic materials,
and as a result, more layers of ballistic materials may be needed to
compensate, making the vests thicker and less comfortable. Many
manufacturers, including all six in our sample, will custom fit body armor
to the specific body contours of individual officers.

DOJ’s activities to address comfort, fit, and coverage include NIJ taking
the following actions:

•   Issuing guidance that advises agencies to take comfort into account
    when selecting body armor and provides information on design
    elements that can affect comfort. NIJ’s body armor guidance also
    provides information on elements of proper fit and advises agencies to
    inspect body armor routinely to ensure proper fit. In addition, the NIJ
    guidance advises agencies to select body armor that provides full
    front, side and back protection and includes information to help
    agencies select body armor that offers an appropriate balance of
    protection and comfort. This guidance is available on NIJ’s website
    and the website NLECTC operates.
•   Funding a study on the effect of body armor use on core body
    temperature to gain a better understanding of comfort issues. NIJ also
    plans to present the issue of including ergonomic or “wearability” test
    protocols to the STC as it consider revisions of the ballistic-resistant
    body armor standard.
•   Providing funding to NIST to develop standard definitions of body
    armor types and standardized test methods for assessing the
    performance of contoured body armor designs for females. In
    addition, NIJ plans to bring the issue of female body armor testing
    methods to the STC developing the ballistic-resistant body armor
    standards for its consideration.
•   Producing a video on body armor that provides information on body
    armor fit and coverage. See video
    (www.gao.gov/multimedia/video#video_id=588457).
Wear and tear. Age alone does not degrade the ballistic-resistant
properties of body armor, but wear and tear from normal use can
contribute to the deterioration of body armor’s performance over time.
There is little conclusive data on the extent to which normal wear and tear
affects the useful lifespan of body armor. According to NIJ, many
manufacturers offer 5-year warranties on their body armor, including the
six we met with, but this is not necessarily a reflection of the service life of
the armor. DOJ does have several activities under way, however, that
address wear and tear factors. In particular:


Page 34                                    GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
•   NIJ’s ballistic-resistant body armor test protocols examine body
    armor’s performance after undergoing mechanical wear in a tumbler
    for 10 days while being exposed to hot and humid conditions.
    Appendix IV depicts a tumbler used for conditioning ballistic-resistant
    body armor before testing.
•   NIJ’s body armor guidance contains information on body armor life
    expectancy and replacement policies, and encourages agencies to
    visually inspect armor for signs of excessive wear and tear at least
    once a year.
•   NIJ and NIST are jointly researching
    •     the properties of used body armor and how ballistic materials
          change over time,
    •     the relationship between changes in the ballistic materials and
          ballistic performance that could inform test methods for used
          armor,
    •     body armor designs that are less vulnerable to mechanical
          damage from wear and tear, and
    •     artificial aging methods that could be used to predict the service
          life of armor.
•   NIJ has produced a video that provides information on inspecting
    body armor for signs of wear and tear. See video
    (www.gao.gov/multimedia/video#video_id=588458).
Care and maintenance. Dry cleaning solvents, harsh detergents, bleach,
and accumulated soap residue can damage body armor and curtail its
effectiveness. Further, improper storage can lead to the development of
set wrinkles, stretching, and exposure to environmental conditions that
can degrade performance. For example, hanging body armor on a hanger
may stretch out the elastic shoulder straps and reduce the ballistic-
resistant panels’ proper coverage across the torso. DOJ has taken
several actions to address these care and maintenance factors.
Specifically, NIJ

•   requires that all NIJ-compliant body armor contain labels that include
    care instructions and NIJ’s body armor guidance also includes
    information on caring for body armor, and
•   has produced an informational video on body armor that discusses
    body armor care. See video
    (www.gao.gov/multimedia/video#video_id=588459).




Page 35                                    GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
              Exposure to environmental conditions. Exposure to environmental
              conditions of extreme temperature, moisture, humidity, and ultraviolet
              light can degrade ballistic-resistant materials. 62 In particular, the amount
              of moisture associated with normal perspiration is not sufficient to affect
              ballistic performance and most commercially manufactured armor is
              treated with water-repellant materials or enclosed in water-resistant
              covers. NIJ has several activities that aim to address these environmental
              factors:

              •   NIJ has ballistic-resistant body armor test protocols that examine
                  armors’ performance after being submerged in water and being
                  environmentally conditioned for 10 days in a tumbler that subjects the
                  armor to heat and humidity and mechanical wear. Appendix IV shows
                  a tumbler for conditioning ballistic-resistant body armor before testing.
              •   NIJ plans to present the issue of including environmental testing
                  protocols to the STC as it considers revisions to the stab-resistant
                  body armor standard.
              •   NIJ and NIST are jointly researching the effect of heat, humidity, and
                  moisture on the strength of newer body armor materials and exploring
                  how to verify or improve the environmental conditioning protocol in the
                  ballistic-resistant body armor standard.

              Body armor has demonstrated its ability to better protect law enforcement
Conclusions   officers and DOJ has a number of efforts under way to promote its use
              and improve its effectiveness. Further, in managing its funding programs,
              BJA has designed several financial controls and has plans to further
              enhance grantee monitoring. Given the importance of the body armor
              initiatives under way to the safety of law enforcement officers—and the
              importance of sound financial management to program operations—
              opportunities exist for BJA to improve in several areas. In particular,
              deobligating undisbursed funds from BVP grant awards whose terms
              have ended and the grants have closed could help prevent improper
              accounting and enhance its management of program funds. Further,
              increasing grantees’ awareness of the documentation retention
              requirement could help ensure grantees’ accountability in the use of


              62
                NIJ’s body armor standards do not address exposure to ultraviolet light (UV); however,
              NIJ does not believe a UV test is needed since the ballistic materials are enclosed in a
              cover that provides protection against UV light. Further, NIJ officials noted that when in
              use, the covered ballistic materials are inserted into a carrier vest that offers further
              protection against UV exposure.




              Page 36                                          GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
                      federal funds. Additionally, harmonizing requirements across the BVP and
                      JAG programs could improve consistency in the department’s efforts to
                      ensure law enforcement officers’ protection. Finally by fully documenting
                      its procedures for monitoring compliance with program requirements and
                      improving its tracking of which JAG grantees are using funds for stab-
                      resistant body armor purchases, BJA could better target its compliance
                      efforts.


                      To enhance management of body armor funding, improve grantee
Recommendations for   accountability in the use of federal funds, reduce the risk of grantee
Executive Action      noncompliance with program requirements, and ensure consistency in the
                      department’s efforts to promote law enforcement officer safety, we
                      recommend that the BJA Director take the following five actions:

                      1. Deobligate undisbursed funds from grants in the BVP program that
                         have closed.
                      2. Expand information available to BVP grantees on the current program
                         requirement for jurisdictions to retain documentation on all
                         transactions for at least 3 years.
                      3. Establish requirements within the JAG program that grantees using
                         the money for body armor purchases have written mandatory wear
                         policies in place and that they are permitted to purchase only NIJ-
                         compliant body armor.
                      4. Document procedures for desk review checks on compliance with
                         JAG program requirements.
                      5. Establish a project identifier within GMS to track stab-resistant body
                         armor.

                      We provided a draft of this report to DOJ for comment. We received
Agency Comments       written comments on the draft report, which are reprinted in appendix V.
and Our Evaluation    DOJ agreed or agreed in part with all five recommendations in the report,
                      and we believe that DOJ’s planned actions address the intent of each.
                      Specifically:

                          •     DOJ agreed with the recommendation that the department
                                deobligate undisbursed funds from BVP grants that have closed
                                and said that in the absence of statutory restrictions stating
                                otherwise, BJA intends to use the deobligated, undispersed BVP
                                funds to supplement appropriations in fiscal years 2012 and 2013.
                          •     DOJ agreed with the recommendation that it expand the
                                information available to BVP grantees on the program requirement
                                that jurisdictions retain documentation for at least 3 years and said



                      Page 37                                    GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
          it will add language in the fiscal year 2012 BVP program
          requirements to address this issue.
     •    DOJ generally agreed with the recommendation that it establish
          requirements within the JAG program that grantees using the
          money for body armor purchases have written mandatory wear
          policies in place and that they are permitted to purchase only NIJ-
          compliant body armor. DOJ stated that it had sufficient legal
          authority to establish these requirements in the JAG program, but
          noted that it plans to implement such requirements carefully to
          avoid impeding the ability of local jurisdictions to purchase ballistic
          equipment that does not have standards, such as K-9 ballistic
          vests, and to accommodate other JAG program requirements. 63
     •    DOJ agreed, in part, with the recommendation that it document
          procedures for its checks on compliance with JAG program
          requirements, acknowledging the importance of closely monitoring
          this requirement. However, it stated that it did not believe that
          desk reviews are the best mechanism for ensuring that grantees
          are separately tracking and administering JAG and BVP funds and
          stated that it would develop and institute additional controls
          beyond desk reviews to ensure grantees’ compliance.
     •    DOJ agreed with the recommendation that it establish a project
          identifier within the Grants Management System to track stab-
          resistant body armor and stated that it will add a project identifier
          for stab-resistant vests during the fiscal year 2012 JAG program
          application process.

DOJ also provided technical comments, which we incorporated into the
report as appropriate. 64


We are sending copies of this report to the Attorney General, selected
congressional committees, and other interested parties. In addition, the
report is available at no charge on the GAO website at
http://www.gao.gov.



63
 K-9 ballistic vests are protective vests that dogs working with law enforcement officers
wear while on duty. Vests modified for K-9 units have not been tested by NIJ.
64
  For example, DOJ suggested that we use “closed” rather than “expired” when
discussing those grants with undisbursed balances that could be deobligated. We agreed,
and changed the language throughout the report, as well as within recommendation 1,
accordingly.




Page 38                                          GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please contact
me at (202) 512-9627 or maurerd@gao.gov. Contact points for our
Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on
the last page of this report. Key contributors to this report are listed in
appendix VI.




David C. Maurer
Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues




Page 39                                   GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
List of Requesters

The Honorable Charles E. Grassley
Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate

The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse
Chairman
Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate

The Honorable Lindsey Graham
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate

The Honorable Benjamin L. Cardin
United States Senate




Page 40                               GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
              Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
              Methodology



Methodology

              This report answers the following questions: (1) What efforts does the
              Department of Justice (DOJ) have under way to support state and local
              law enforcement’s use of body armor? (2) To what extent has DOJ
              designed controls over these efforts and coordinated them with
              stakeholders within and outside of the department? (3) What factors
              affect body armor’s use and effectiveness and how has DOJ has
              addressed these factors?

              To address all three questions we obtained and assessed body armor-
              related documents from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the
              National Institute of Justice (NIJ), such as program requirements,
              procedures, processes, and budget information for fiscal years 1999
              through 2011, and interviewed BJA and NIJ officials. In addition, we
              attended NIJ workshops in 2011 on its body armor standards and
              observed body armor testing firsthand.

              To identify DOJ’s body armor efforts to support state and local law
              enforcement, we examined program data on BJA’s Bulletproof Vest
              Partnership (BVP) program for fiscal years 1999 through 2011 as well as
              its Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program for fiscal years
              2006 through 2011. These are two grant programs supporting state and
              local law enforcement’s purchases of body armor. To assess the reliability
              of the BVP data, we talked with BJA officials about data quality control
              procedures and reviewed relevant documentation. We determined that
              the data were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report. We also
              examined preliminary information from a GAO survey of the more than
              3,900 JAG grantees that had received awards from fiscal years 2005
              through 2010 to determine the extent to which they had procured ballistic
              and stab-resistant body armor in fiscal year 2010. 1 The survey data
              included in this report reflect a 42 percent response rate and are not
              generalizable to all JAG grantees.

              To evaluate the extent to which DOJ designed controls over and
              coordinated its body armor efforts, we assessed DOJ’s body armor
              program policies, procedures, processes, and coordination efforts using
              standards for internal control in the federal government and leading



              1
               Survey of Indigent Defense Funding from Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants,
              GAO (2012). The survey will be completed in February 2012 and the results will be
              published in a forthcoming GAO report on indigent defense.




              Page 41                                       GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




practices for grant management and stakeholder coordination. 2 We also
discussed body armor efforts and coordination issues with federal officials
inside and outside of DOJ. In particular, we interviewed officials from
DOJ’s law enforcement components, including the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Bureau of Prisons; the Drug
Enforcement Administration; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the
U.S. Marshals Service. Furthermore, we interviewed officials from the
Department of Defense’s Technical Support Working Group subgroup for
personnel protection and the Department of Commerce’s National
Institute of Standards and Technology who are involved in body armor
research, standards, and testing to discuss their efforts and the extent to
which they coordinate with DOJ.

Additionally, we obtained perspectives from the state and local law
enforcement community on DOJ’s body armor efforts. Specifically, we
interviewed officials from the following three law enforcement
associations: the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the
Fraternal Order of Police, and the National Sheriffs’ Association. 3 We
selected this nonprobability sample of associations based upon the size
of the organizations and the types of law enforcement officers
represented. We also selected a nonprobability sample of 10 state and
local jurisdictions that received BVP awards in fiscal year 2010 and
interviewed officials representing each jurisdiction. We selected these 10
based upon the type of jurisdiction (e.g., state, county, or city); population;
and proximity to a GAO office for on-site visits. The jurisdictions we
selected were Bristol, Virginia; the state of California; Dorchester County,
Maryland; Gaithersburg, Maryland; Hanover County, Virginia; Los
Angeles, California; the state of Maryland; Tulare County, California; the
state of Virginia; and Washington, D.C. In particular, with officials from
state and local jurisdictions, we discussed body armor funding, policy,
selection, procurement, and use. When possible, we discussed body



2
 GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1
(Washington, D.C.: November 1999); Grant Accountability Project, Guide to Opportunities
for Improving Grant Accountability (Washington, D.C.: 2005); GAO, Results-Oriented
Government: Practices That Can Help Enhance and Sustain Collaboration among Federal
Agencies, GAO-06-15 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 21, 2005); American National Standards
Institute, United States Standards Strategy (New York: August 2000).
3
 Unlike a random sample, a nonprobability sample is more deliberatively chosen, meaning
that some elements of the population being studied have either no chance or an unknown
chance of being selected as part of the sample.




Page 42                                        GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




armor use with male and female law enforcement officers who wear body
armor and visited their offices to see the body armor that had been
purchased using federal funds. 4 Although the information from these
nonprobability samples is not generalizable, it provides valuable insight
into body armor issues.

We obtained perspectives on NIJ’s coordination efforts and body armor
standards and compliance testing programs from interviews with
nonprobability samples of six body armor manufacturers, two NIJ-
approved body armor testing laboratories, and two body armor materials
manufacturers. We selected our sample of six body armor manufacturers,
based upon the size of the company and the types of armor produced.
The six manufacturers were Armor Express, Force One, Paraclete, Point
Blank, Safariland, and US Armor. 5 We selected the following two NIJ-
approved laboratories to visit based upon their proximity to our office:
Chesapeake Testing and H.P. White Laboratory. We also met with
officials from DuPont and Honeywell, two body armor materials
manufacturers, based upon their officials’ availability to meet at a location
near GAO. Although the information from these nonprobability samples is
not generalizable, it provides valuable insight into body armor issues.

For our analysis of the factors affecting body armor’s use and
effectiveness, we reviewed body armor literature and discussed these
factors with the officials we interviewed for the second question,
described above. We also reviewed BJA and NIJ programmatic
information, such as program requirements and research plans, to
determine the extent to which DOJ had taken actions to address these
factors. The documents reviewed cover the period from 1974 through
2012, which generally corresponds to the time period of DOJ’s body
armor efforts.




4
 Owing to scheduling issues and time constraints we did not interview law enforcement
officers from the jurisdictions of Tulare County, California, or the state of Virginia, and
were unable to interview female officers from the jurisdictions of Bristol, Virginia;
Dorchester County, Maryland, and the State of California or male officers from the
jurisdiction of Hanover County, Virginia.
5
 During the course of our review, the Point Blank and Paraclete body armor brands were
acquired by another body armor manufacturer. Our selection of these manufacturers and
the information we obtained from them preceded the acquisitions.




Page 43                                            GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




We conducted this performance audit from March 2011 through February
2012 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to
obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe
that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
and conclusions based on our audit objectives.




Page 44                                GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Appendix II: Types of Law Enforcement Body
              Appendix II: Types of Law Enforcement Body
              Armor by Level of Ballistic Performance



Armor by Level of Ballistic Performance


               Types by
               Performance               Ammunition used in                                How body armor
               level                     compliance testing        Degree of flexibility   is worn
               IIA                       Handgun bullets:          Soft                    Either under or
                                         •  9 mm and                                       above an officer’s
                                                                                           uniform
                                         •  .40 Smith and
                                            Wesson
               II                        Handgun bullets:          Soft                    Either under or
                                         •  9 mm and                                       above an officer’s
                                                                                           uniform
                                         •  .357 Magnum
               IIIA                      Handgun bullets:          Soft                    Either under or
                                         •  .357 SIG and                                   above an officer’s
                                                                                           uniform
                                         •  .44 Magnum
               III                       Rifle bullets:            Semi-rigid or rigid     Above an officer’s
                                         •    7.62 mm                                      uniform
               IV                        Rifle bullets:            Semi-rigid or rigid     Above an officer’s
                                         •    .30 caliber armor-                           uniform
                                              piercing bullets
              Source: GAO analysis of NIJ information.




              Page 45                                               GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Appendix III: Performance Levels of Law
              Appendix III: Performance Levels of Law
              Enforcement Stab-Resistant Body Armor



Enforcement Stab-Resistant Body Armor

              The stab-resistant body armor standard defines three levels of
              performance for stab-resistant body armor. For each of the three
              protection levels, the test protocol requires that the knife blade or spike
              impact the armor test sample at two energy levels. NIJ established a
              maximum allowable penetration limit of 7 millimeters for the first energy
              level, based upon research indicating that internal injuries to organs
              would be extremely unlikely at this depth. The second energy level is an
              “overtest” to ensure that an adequate margin of safety exists. NIJ defined
              a maximum allowable penetration limit of 20 millimeters for this second
              energy level. Table 2 illustrates the performance standards at each level.

              Table 2: Stab-Resistant Body Armor Performance Levels

                                               Energy level of stab strike (in    Energy level of stab strike (in
                  Performance                 joulesa) at which a penetration    joules) at which a penetration
                  level                                    of 7mm is allowed                of 20mm is allowed
                  1                                                        24                                     36
                  2                                                        33                                     50
                  3                                                        43                                     65
              Source: GAO analysis of NIJ information.
              a
               A joule is a unit of energy equal to the work done by a force of 1 newton acting through a distance of
              1 meter. A newton is a unit of force that produces an acceleration of 1 meter per second per second
              on a mass of 1 kilogram.




              Page 46                                                  GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Appendix IV: Tumbler Used to Condition
               Appendix IV: Tumbler Used to Condition
               Ballistic-Resistant Body Armor before Testing



Ballistic-Resistant Body Armor before Testing




               Page 47                                         GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Appendix V: Comments from the Department
             Appendix V: Comments from the Department
             of Justice



of Justice




             Page 48                                    GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Appendix V: Comments from the Department
of Justice




Page 49                                    GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Appendix V: Comments from the Department
of Justice




Page 50                                    GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Appendix V: Comments from the Department
of Justice




Page 51                                    GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
Appendix VI: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Appendix VI: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  David C. Maurer, (202) 512-9627 or maurerd@gao.gov
GAO Contact
                  In addition to the contact named above, Joy Booth, Assistant Director,
Staff             and Juan Tapia-Videla, Analyst-in-Charge, managed this assignment.
Acknowledgments   Heather May and Ana Ivelisse Aviles made significant contributions to the
                  work. Stanley Kostyla assisted with design and methodology. Willie
                  Commons III provided legal support. Katherine Davis provided assistance
                  in report preparation and Lydia Araya made contributions to the figures
                  and videos presented in the report.




(440957)
                  Page 52                                GAO-12-353 Law Enforcement Body Armor
GAO’s Mission         The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and
                      investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its
                      constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and
                      accountability of the federal government for the American people. GAO
                      examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and
                      policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance
                      to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions.
                      GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of
                      accountability, integrity, and reliability.

                      The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no
Obtaining Copies of   cost is through GAO’s website (www.gao.gov). Each weekday afternoon,
GAO Reports and       GAO posts on its website newly released reports, testimony, and
                      correspondence. To have GAO e-mail you a list of newly posted products,
Testimony             go to www.gao.gov and select “E-mail Updates.”

Order by Phone        The price of each GAO publication reflects GAO’s actual cost of
                      production and distribution and depends on the number of pages in the
                      publication and whether the publication is printed in color or black and
                      white. Pricing and ordering information is posted on GAO’s website,
                      http://www.gao.gov/ordering.htm.
                      Place orders by calling (202) 512-6000, toll free (866) 801-7077, or
                      TDD (202) 512-2537.
                      Orders may be paid for using American Express, Discover Card,
                      MasterCard, Visa, check, or money order. Call for additional information.
                      Connect with GAO on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube.
Connect with GAO      Subscribe to our RSS Feeds or E-mail Updates. Listen to our Podcasts.
                      Visit GAO on the web at www.gao.gov.
                      Contact:
To Report Fraud,
Waste, and Abuse in   Website: www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm
                      E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov
Federal Programs      Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470

                      Katherine Siggerud, Managing Director, siggerudk@gao.gov, (202) 512-
Congressional         4400, U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room
Relations             7125, Washington, DC 20548

                      Chuck Young, Managing Director, youngc1@gao.gov, (202) 512-4800
Public Affairs        U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7149
                      Washington, DC 20548




                        Please Print on Recycled Paper.