oversight

Inmate Reentry Programs: Enhanced Information Sharing Could Further Strengthen Coordination and Grant Management

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-12-14.

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

                United States Government Accountability Office

GAO             Report to Congressional Committees




                INMATE REENTRY
December 2012



                PROGRAMS

                Enhanced Information
                Sharing Could Further
                Strengthen
                Coordination and
                Grant Management




GAO-13-93
                                               December 2012

                                               INMATE REENTRY PROGRAMS
                                               Enhanced Information Sharing Could Further
                                               Strengthen Coordination and Grant Management
Highlights of GAO-13-93, a report to
congressional committees.




Why GAO Did This Study                         What GAO Found
About 700,000 inmates are released             In fiscal year 2011, the Departments of Justice (DOJ), Labor (Labor), and Health
from federal and state custody each            and Human Services (HHS) separately administered nine fragmented but
year, and another 9 million are booked         minimally overlapping reentry grant programs with low risk of duplication.
into and released from local jails.            Specifically, GAO found that these grant programs are fragmented since more
Former inmates face challenges as              than one federal agency is involved in administering the programs. Further, GAO
they transition into, or reenter, society,     found that overlap across the nine programs was minimal because the programs
such as finding housing and                    varied in (1) their applicant eligibility criteria, (2) the extent to which their funds
employment. According to the most              solely benefit the reentry population, and (3) their primary services funded. For
recent data available, more than two-
                                               example, Labor’s reentry program limits eligibility to private, nonprofit
thirds of state prisoners are rearrested
                                               organizations that will use the funds primarily to assist current or former
for a new offense within 3 years of
release, and about half are
                                               inmates—residing in or released from any facility—with their employment needs.
reincarcerated. Federal reentry grants         In contrast, one of DOJ’s reentry programs limits eligibility to governmental
are available for state and local              entities that will use the funds primarily to assist current or former inmates—
providers, as successful reentry               residing in or released from state, local, or tribal facilities—with their substance
reduces rearrest or reincarceration,           abuse treatment needs. Given the variance across eligible applicants,
known as recidivism. GAO was asked             beneficiaries, and primary services, the overlap across the nine programs is
to review (1) the extent to which there        minimal and the risk of duplication—when two or more agencies or programs are
is fragmentation, overlap, and                 engaged in the same activities, provide the same services to the same
duplication across federal reentry grant       beneficiaries, or provide funding for the same purpose—is low.
programs; (2) the coordination efforts
federal grant-making agencies have             DOJ, Labor, and HHS have acknowledged where some overlap exists and
taken to prevent unnecessary                   therefore have taken steps to coordinate their reentry efforts to further prevent
duplication and share promising                unnecessary duplication and share promising practices. For example, in 2011,
practices; and (3) the extent to which         the U.S. Attorney General convened the Federal Interagency Reentry Council—a
federal grant-making agencies                  group of federal agencies whose mission is to make communities safer; assist
measure grantees’ effectiveness in             those returning from prison and jail in becoming productive, taxpaying citizens;
reducing recidivism. GAO identified            and save taxpayer dollars by lowering the direct and collateral costs of
and analyzed the grant programs and            incarceration. Further, agency officials from all three agencies reported that they
agencies that supported reentry efforts        share grant solicitations with one another before issuing them, and in 2009, DOJ
in fiscal year 2011; analyzed agency           and HHS established a memorandum of agreement to formally coordinate
documents, such as grant solicitations;        funding activities related to reentry. In addition, all three agencies have taken
and interviewed agency officials.              action, or have actions under way, to require their grant applicants to report other
                                               federal funds they are receiving, or plan to receive, and consider this information
What GAO Recommends                            before they will make new award decisions.
GAO recommends that DOJ, Labor,
                                               DOJ, Labor, and HHS are measuring grantee performance and conducting
and HHS enhance their information
sharing on approaches for determining
                                               program evaluations, but they could enhance information sharing about the
how effectively grantees reduce                methods they use to collect and analyze data to determine how effectively
recidivism. In response, DOJ, Labor,           grantees reduce recidivism. To monitor grantee performance, DOJ, Labor, and
and HHS reported that they would take          HHS collect different performance information, such as rearrest, reincarceration,
actions to address our                         and employment rates, through several web-based grant management systems,
recommendation.                                each with varying strengths and limitations. However, the agencies have not
                                               formally discussed these systems with one another, or how they analyze the data
                                               they collect, despite engaging in collaborations during which such discussions
                                               would be practical and useful. Consistent with effective interagency coordination
                                               practices, sharing information like this could help the agencies better leverage
View GAO-13-93. For more information,
contact David C. Maurer at (202) 512-9627 or   existing practices and improve their approaches to determining and reporting on
maurerd@gao.gov.                               grantee effectiveness.

                                                                                         United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                    1
               Background                                                                 7
               Federal Reentry Grant Programs Are Fragmented but Minimally
                 Overlapping, Reducing the Risk for Duplication                         13
               Agencies Have Taken Steps to Coordinate Their Reentry Programs
                 and Further Reduce the Potential for Unnecessary Duplication
                 in Funding                                                             21
               Agencies Are Measuring Grantee Performance and Conducting
                 Program Evaluations, but Additional Information Sharing Could
                 Be Beneficial                                                          28
               Conclusions                                                              38
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                     39
               Agency Comments                                                          39

Appendix I     The Role of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Reentry                     41



Appendix II    Federal Interagency Reentry Council Accomplishments                      44



Appendix III   Summary of Ongoing Agency Reentry Program Evaluations                    50



Appendix IV    Comments from the Department of Justice                                  53



Appendix V     Comments from the Department of Labor                                    55



Appendix VI    Comments from the Department of Health & Human Services                  57



Appendix VII   GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                    59



Tables
               Table 1: Four Phases of the Federal Grant Life Cycle                     10


               Page i                                      GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
          Table 2: Fragmentation across Federal Reentry Grant Programs in
                   Fiscal Year 2011                                                                 14
          Table 3: Variations in Applicant Eligibility across Federal Reentry
                   Grant Programs, Fiscal Year 2011                                                 16
          Table 4: Variations in Population Targets across Federal Reentry
                   Grant Programs, Fiscal Year 2011                                                 17
          Table 5: Variations in Primary Services Funded across Federal
                   Reentry Grant Programs, Fiscal Year 2011                                         18
          Table 6: Federal Agencies’ Recidivism-Related Measures                                    31
          Table 7: Agencies’ Use of Grant Management Systems for
                   Performance Reporting and Analysis                                               32
          Table 8: Selected BOP Inmate Reentry Programs and Activities                              42
          Table 9: Federal Interagency Reentry Council Accomplishments                              46
          Table 10: DOJ and Labor Reentry Grant Program Evaluations                                 50


Figures
          Figure 1: Potential Needs of the Reentry Population                                        9
          Figure 2: Issues Related to Reentry                                                       45

          Abbreviations

          BOP                        Federal Bureau of Prisons
          CFDA                       Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
          DOJ                        Department of Justice
          GMS                        Grants Management System
          HHS                        Department of Health and Human Services
          MIS                        Management Information System
          PMT                        Performance Measurement Tool
          PRI                        Prisoner Reentry Initiative
          ORP                        Offender Reentry Program
          RExO                       Reintegration of Ex-Offenders
          SAIS                       Service Accountability Improvement System
          SCA                        Second Chance Act
          SVORI                      Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative

          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-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   December 14, 2012

                                   The Honorable Lamar Smith
                                   Chairman
                                   The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
                                   Ranking Member
                                   Committee on the Judiciary
                                   House of Representatives

                                   The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
                                   Chairman
                                   The Honorable Robert C. “Bobby” Scott
                                   Ranking Member
                                   Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security
                                   Committee on the Judiciary
                                   House of Representatives

                                   About 2.2 million individuals were incarcerated in state, federal, and local
                                   facilities in 2011, and the United States spent more than an estimated
                                   $82.7 billion on federal, state, and local corrections, according to the most
                                   recently available data. 1 About 700,000 inmates are released from federal
                                   and state custody each year, and another 9 million are booked into and
                                   released from local jails. These former inmates face considerable
                                   challenges as they transition into, or reenter, society after incarceration.
                                   When successful reentry fails, rearrest or reincarceration may result.
                                   According to the most recent data available, more than two-thirds of state
                                   prisoners are rearrested for a new offense within 3 years of their release
                                   and about half are reincarcerated—this is known as recidivism. 2 Assisting
                                   the reentry population—former inmates or inmates preparing for release


                                   1
                                    For data on the number of individuals incarcerated, see Department of Justice, Bureau of
                                   Justice Statistics, Correctional Populations in the United States, 2011 (Washington, D.C.:
                                   November 2012). Bureau of Justice Statistics’ data on correctional expenditures are
                                   preliminary. The Bureau of Justice Statistics is the statistical agency of Department of
                                   Justice.
                                   2
                                    U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics,
                                   Special Report: Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994, (Washington, D.C.: June
                                   2002). According to Department of Justice officials, the Bureau of Justice Assistance is
                                   currently working on a new national recidivism study that involved about 30 states and
                                   75,000 former inmates. DOJ estimates that the report will be completed by December 31,
                                   2012.




                                   Page 1                                                GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
from federal, state, and local correctional facilities—in successful reentry
is essential, as the economic and societal costs of high incarceration
rates are significant. High rates of recidivism mean more crime, more
victims, and more pressure on an already overburdened and
overcrowded criminal justice system. As we have recently reported,
inmate crowding remains a significant concern, and federal prisons are
nearly 40 percent over capacity. 3

In 2011, the U.S. Attorney General convened the Federal Interagency
Reentry Council—a group of federal agencies whose mission is to make
communities safer; assist those returning from prison and jail in becoming
productive, taxpaying citizens; and save taxpayer dollars by lowering the
direct and collateral costs of incarceration. 4 Unlike some other executive
branch councils, the Federal Interagency Reentry Council does not
receive an appropriation from Congress and does not employ full-time
staff. 5 Member agencies provide a range of services, from direct
assistance with reentry to the administration of grants. For example, the
Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is the
sole agency responsible for the custody of more than 218,000 federal
inmates, and considers the process of reentry to begin the day the inmate
is incarcerated. Accordingly, BOP is involved in the direct provision of
reentry services, such as vocational training, faith-based programs, and
substance abuse treatment, which help current inmates prepare for


3
 GAO, Bureau of Prisons: Growing Inmate Crowding Negatively Affects Inmates, Staff,
and Infrastructure, GAO-12-743 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 12, 2012).
4
 Agencies included on the Federal Interagency Reentry Council and the council’s working
group are the Department of Justice, Department of the Interior, Department of
Agriculture, Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services, Department
of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Education, Department of Veterans
Affairs, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Social Security Administration, Domestic
Policy Council, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, White House Office of Faith-
Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Office of Personnel Management, Office of
Management and Budget, Internal Revenue Service, Federal Trade Commission,
Interagency Council on Homelessness, Small Business Administration, and Court
Services and Offender Supervision Agency—the last of which is only on the Federal
Interagency Reentry Council’s working group. Collateral costs quantify the size of the
effect of incarceration to both the individual and the individual’s family.
5
 The Federal Interagency Reentry Council has no separate budget, and council
representatives participate in council activities while also fulfilling their respective
responsibilities at their home agencies. In contrast, the United States Interagency Council
on Homelessness receives a separate appropriation from Congress and employs full-time
staff.




Page 2                                                 GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
release. For fiscal year 2012, BOP estimates spending about 9 percent,
or $604 million of its $6.6 billion operating budget, on reentry-related
services. In contrast, DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and the
Departments of Labor (Labor) and Health and Human Services (HHS) all
administer grant funding to state and local reentry service providers so
that they may, for example, assist the reentry population train for and find
jobs, obtain substance abuse treatment, and locate housing as needed.
Collectively, these three federal agencies were appropriated over $165
million in fiscal year 2012 and nearly $185 million in fiscal year 2011 for
three of their respective reentry grant programs. These three funding
streams—the Second Chance Act (SCA) program, the Reintegration of
Ex-Offenders (RExO) program, and the Offender Reentry Program
(ORP)—support both the adult and the juvenile reentry population. 6

We have previously reported on the importance of sound federal grant
management practices. 7 We have also published annual reports on
fragmentation, overlap, and duplication across the government since
2011, emphasizing opportunities to achieve greater efficiencies and more
effective delivery of government services, 8 and have studied grants
management at DOJ in particular. 9 In 2012, we reported that DOJ’s grant
programs overlap across 10 justice areas, contributing to the risk of
unnecessarily duplicative grant awards for the same or similar
purposes. 10 Moreover, the DOJ, Labor, and HHS Inspectors General


6
 The SCA program is carried out through the authority provided in the Second Chance Act
of 2007, Pub. L. No. 110-199, 122 Stat. 657 (2008). The RExO program is carried out
through authority provided in Section 171 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, Pub.
L. No. 105-220, 112 Stat. 936, 1031-34, and Section 212 of the Second Chance Act of
2007, Pub. L. No. 110-199, 122 Stat. 657, 680-83. HHS’s ORP grants are authorized
under Section 509 of the Public Health Service Act, as amended.
7
 GAO, Federal Grants: Improvements Needed in Oversight and Accountability Processes,
GAO-11-773T (Washington, D.C.: June 23, 2011).
8
 GAO, Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax
Dollars, and Enhance Revenue, GAO-11-318SP (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 1, 2011), and
2012 Annual Report: Opportunities to Reduce Duplication, Overlap and Fragmentation,
Achieve Savings, and Enhance Revenue, GAO-12-342SP (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 28,
2012).
9
 GAO, Justice Grant Programs: DOJ Should Do More to Reduce the Risk of Unnecessary
Duplication and Enhance Program Assessment, GAO-12-517 (Washington, D.C.: July 12,
2012).
10
  The actions we suggested that would help address this issue are discussed later in this
report, along with the agency’s position.




Page 3                                                GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
have listed grant management or grant accountability among their
respective departments’ top 10 management challenges from at least
2007 through 2011. The DOJ Inspector General has also included
detention and incarceration on its list since 2006.

Given the importance of inmate rehabilitation and the variety of federal
initiatives, including grants, to facilitate successful reentry, you asked us
to review the role various federal agencies play in helping to reduce
recidivism, and what agencies know about the effectiveness of the
programs they administer. Specifically, this report addresses the following
questions (1) To what extent is there fragmentation across the federal
grant programs that exist to support inmates’ reentry into society, and to
what extent do these grant programs overlap or duplicate? (2) What
coordination efforts have federal grant-making agencies taken, if any, to
prevent unnecessary duplication and share information on promising
reentry approaches? (3) To what extent do federal grant-making agencies
measure grantees’ effectiveness in reducing recidivism?

Using the framework established in our prior work addressing overlap,
fragmentation, and duplication, we use the following definitions for
analysis of reentry grant programs:

•   Fragmentation: when more than one federal agency (or more than
    one organization within an agency) is involved in the same broad area
    of national interest.
•   Overlap: when programs have similar goals, devise similar strategies
    and activities to achieve those goals, or target similar users. Overlap
    may result from statutory or other limitations beyond an agency’s
    control.
•   Duplication: when two or more agencies or programs are engaged in
    the same activities or provide the same services to the same
    beneficiaries. When granting agencies do not identify overlap, assess
    its impact, or coordinate their activities in acknowledgment of the
    overlap, there is a heightened risk of unnecessary duplication
    because one granting agency may not be knowledgeable of the ways
    in which its funding decision duplicates another’s. At times, federal
    funding is leveraged by design to achieve a single purpose through
    multiple federal funding streams. These funding arrangements are not
    characterized as unnecessary duplication for purposes of this review
    so long as federal agencies are aware of them and have deliberately
    planned for grant programs to be complementary. Duplication also
    occurs when a single grantee uses grant funds from different federal
    sources to pay for the exact same expenditure.



Page 4                                        GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
To address our first and second objectives, we first identified federal grant
programs that supported reentry efforts in fiscal year 2011. Specifically,
we identified grant programs that provided either new or continuation
funds to support direct services for the adult reentry population. In order
to be included in our scope, the grant program—or a grant solicitation
under this program—must have either (1) specifically targeted the reentry
population for its services, included the reentry population as a target
population, or (2) included an element specific to reentry or corrections for
which the funding could be used. We identified the grant programs
meeting these criteria through key word searches in federal databases—
the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA), Grants.gov, and
USASpending.gov—as well as a review of agency documents. 11 We
excluded programs that did not meet all our criteria, including programs
that the reentry population may benefit from but are not specifically
targeted. Utilizing the framework established in our prior work addressing
fragmentation, overlap, and duplication, we then reviewed the grant
solicitations issued under these grant programs to make determinations
about the extent to which they were fragmented, overlapping, or
duplicative. 12 In making these determinations, we considered, collectively,
three factors: (1) which applicants were eligible for the grant programs,
(2) the extent to which the reentry population is the sole target of the
grant programs’ services, and (3) the primary services these grant
programs funded. Further, we interviewed agency officials from DOJ,
Labor, and HHS to gauge their awareness of other federal reentry funds
and where they were being allocated. We also interviewed officials from
the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Association of
State Correctional Administrators, and examined a number of federal
agency and industry reports on the services needed to ensure effective




11
  CFDA is a government-wide compendium of federal programs, projects, services, and
activities that provide assistance or benefits to the American public. Grants.gov serves as
the central grant identification and application portal for more than 1,000 federal grant
programs. USAspending.gov displays data pertaining to federal grants.
12
 GAO-11-318SP and GAO-12-342SP.




Page 5                                                 GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
reentry. 13 To determine how agencies coordinate with one another in the
administration of these programs, we reviewed agency documents, such
as a memorandum of understanding between DOJ and HHS, and Federal
Interagency Reentry Council reports, such as the 2011 Reentry Council
Accomplishment Report. In addition, we conducted interviews with
officials from DOJ, Labor, and HHS, as well as the Federal Interagency
Reentry Council to obtain a better understanding of what grant programs
they operate and how they coordinate with one another. 14 We compared
agencies’ coordination activities with best practices for interagency
collaborations. 15 Further, we conducted visits to three states—New York,
California, and Texas. We selected these three states based on the size
of each state’s inmate population and the concentration of reentry grants
provided in 2011 within their specific jurisdictions. We interviewed nine
grantees in these states because they were located in jurisdictions that
received multiple grants. While we cannot generalize the results of our
interviews with these grantees to all grantees, we were able to obtain
more specific information on the types of services funded with federal
grants funds and the grantees’ views on coordination activities. To add
additional context to our audit work, during our visits to California and
Texas, we also met with officials in nearby BOP facilities to discuss their
reentry efforts. Our observations from these visits cannot be generalized,
but our discussions with the BOP officials illuminated the challenges with
which inmates are faced upon their release and the reentry programs
specific prisons are providing while inmates are in their custody.




13
  The Council of State Governments Justice Center is a national nonprofit organization
that serves policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels from all branches of
government. We spoke to officials on the Association of State Correctional Administrators
Reentry and Community Corrections Committee, which works to identify and implement
best practices in reentry and community-based programs to reduce the number of inmates
returning to prison after release. We met with these organizations because of their
experience with the reentry field.
14
  Specifically, we met with officials from DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs, including the
Bureau of Justice Assistance; Office of Audit, Assessment, and Management; and
National Institute of Justice; DOJ’s BOP, including the National Institute of Corrections;
Labor’s Employment and Training Administrations and Office of Grants Management; and
HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, National Institutes of Health, Assistant
Secretary for Planning and Evaluation; and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration.
15
 GAO, Results-Oriented Government: Practices That Can Help Enhance and Sustain
Collaboration among Federal Agencies, GAO-06-15 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 21, 2005).




Page 6                                                GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                           To analyze the extent to which DOJ, Labor, and HHS use grant
                           monitoring and assessments to determine program effectiveness in
                           reducing recidivism, we analyzed agency documentation, such as 2011
                           grant solicitations that outline grantee reporting requirements, grant
                           management policy guidance, and the agencies’ most recently available
                           reports on grant program evaluations. We also interviewed officials from
                           DOJ, Labor, and HHS to learn more about their grant-monitoring and
                           evaluation practices, as well as their grant management systems. We
                           reviewed guidance to federal agencies from the GPRA Modernization Act
                           of 2010 and best practices for interagency collaborations. 16 Further,
                           during our visits, we asked grantees about their experiences in collecting
                           recidivism data and providing performance information to the federal
                           agencies that funded them. We also analyzed these grantees’ most
                           recent quarterly performance reports—reports that grantees are required
                           to submit to their federal granting agency describing the ways in which
                           they have used the grant funds and their specific accomplishments.

                           We conducted this performance audit from January 2012 through
                           December 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.



Background
Reentry Population Needs   The potential needs of the reentry population vary and generally cross
                           over several areas, as shown in figure 1. For example, according to the
                           BOP Director’s statement to Congress in March 2012, most inmates need
                           assistance with things such as job skills, vocational training, education,
                           substance abuse treatment, and parenting skills if they are to successfully




                           16
                             Pub. L. No. 111-352, 124 Stat. 3866 (2011). The GPRA Modernization Act amends the
                           Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, Pub. L. No. 103-62, 107 Stat. 285
                           (1993).




                           Page 7                                             GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
reenter society. 17 Further, according to the Federal Interagency Reentry
Council, about 66 percent of inmates have substance abuse or
dependence issues, and 24 percent have mental illness issues. In
addition, according to various Urban Institute reports on reentry, between
54 and 40 percent of former inmates were not able to obtain employment
within 7 to 10 months of release. 18 In addition, former inmates are subject
to a wide variety of legal and regulatory sanctions and restrictions, which
are referred to as collateral consequences. 19




17
  Federal Bureau of Prisons FY 2013 Budget Request, Before the Committee on
Appropriations, Subcommittee of Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies,
112th Cong. 203 (2012) (statement of Charles E. Samuels, Jr., Director of the Federal
Bureau of Prisons).
18
  Urban Institute, Life After Prison: Tracking the Experiences of Male Prisoners Returning
to Chicago, Cleveland, and Houston (Washington, D.C.: May 2010), and One Year Out:
Tracking the Experiences of Male Prisoners Returning to Houston, Texas, (Washington,
D.C.: June 2009).
19
  In September 2012, DOJ’s National Institute of Justice established a public website to
inventory state and federal legal and regulatory sanctions and restrictions that result in
collateral consequences of conviction.




Page 8                                                  GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Figure 1: Potential Needs of the Reentry Population




                                         a
                                          Life skills services are provided through mentoring and counseling and address issues such as
                                         parenting and behavioral/anger management.


                                         BOP provides reentry services to inmates within federal prisons (see app.
                                         I for a list of services). Other federal agencies, through their reentry grant
                                         program funds, assist state and local entities in providing reentry services
                                         to the reentry population that may return to their communities. 20 For
                                         example, a community nonprofit organization may receive a federal grant
                                         to assist members of the reentry population in their job training skills
                                         following inmates’ release from prison. Such services funded through the



                                         20
                                           According to various research, as well as federal officials, reentry programs are
                                         essential for those former inmates who are at a high risk for recidivism; however, research
                                         on low-risk offenders shows that it can be detrimental to their reentry success to provide
                                         too much intervention.




                                         Page 9                                                      GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                        grant may include job placement or vocational training, such as
                        construction.

Grant Program           Federal grant programs are generally created by statute and funded
Administration and      through appropriations. Competitive grants are announced through
Reentry Grant History   solicitations—or announcements to applicants of funding opportunities—
                        and a single program may award funding through multiple solicitations.
                        Once a grant is awarded, statutes may require that a primary grant
                        recipient—that is, the one to whom the federal agency makes the original
                        award—then award a portion of its grant to a subgrantee. Where statutes
                        do not require subgranting, a grantee may voluntarily choose to award all
                        or a portion of its funds to subgrantees. Further, federal agencies’
                        monitoring of grantee performance is important to help ensure that
                        grantees are meeting program and accountability requirements. Table 1
                        describes the phases of the federal grant life cycle and the common
                        activities agencies engage in within each phase.

                        Table 1: Four Phases of the Federal Grant Life Cycle

                         Grant phase            Common activities
                         Preaward               •  Announce the opportunity
                                                •  Receive and review applications
                         Award                  •  Notify the grantee
                                                •  Publicly announce the awarding of funds
                         Implementation         •  Disburse payment
                                                •  Collect and review grantee progress reports
                                                •  Conduct site visits to monitor for compliance
                         Closeout               •  Reconcile financial data and other reports
                        Source: GAO.


                        Federal grants to assist with reentry efforts have been in place for several
                        years and have had a number of incarnations. Two of these former efforts
                        are the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI) and the
                        Prisoner Reentry Initiative (PRI). 21 SVORI—a $300 million collaborative
                        effort among DOJ, Labor, HHS, and the Departments of Education and
                        Housing and Urban Development—began in 2002. The goal of the
                        SVORI grant program was to reduce recidivism among high-risk



                        21
                          Both programs were implemented under the authority granted by the reentry program
                        codified at 42 U.S.C. § 3797w.




                        Page 10                                            GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
offenders—those who faced multiple challenges upon returning to the
community from incarceration. SVORI concluded in fiscal year 2005, but
its goals continued through the PRI, which DOJ and Labor administered.
The PRI grant program focused on reducing recidivism by helping former
inmates find work and providing them access to other critical services in
their communities. PRI concluded in fiscal year 2008 when its
appropriation expired.

Since PRI’s conclusion, DOJ, Labor, and HHS each have implemented
grant programs that support reentry services at the state and local levels.
The Second Chance Act of 2007 authorizes the Attorney General to
administer federal grants to state and local government agencies,
territories, or Indian tribes, or any combination thereof, in partnership with
stakeholders, service providers, and nonprofit organizations to provide
employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, mentoring,
and other services that can help reduce recidivism. 22 DOJ administers
these grants through the SCA program and has awarded funding through
a number of SCA solicitations. 23 Under the Second Chance Act of 2007
and the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, Labor implemented its RExO
program and has awarded funding through a few RExO solicitations. 24
RExO is designed to strengthen communities to which the majority of
former inmates return to through an employment-centered program that
incorporates mentoring, job training, and other comprehensive transitional
services. This program seeks to reduce recidivism by helping former
inmates find work when they return to their communities. Finally, HHS
developed the ORP solicitation under its Programs of Regional and
National Significance grant program. 25 The purpose of ORP is to expand




22
  Pub. L. No. 110-199, 122 Stat. 657 (2008).
23
  Specifically, in fiscal year 2011, DOJ issued eight solicitations that provided funding for
direct services for the adult reentry population under the SCA program: (1) Adult
Mentoring Grants to Non-Profit Organizations; (2) Adult Offender Reentry Program for
Planning and Demonstration Projects; (3) State, Local, and Tribal Reentry Courts; (4)
Adult Offenders with Co-occurring Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders; (5) A
Family-Based Offender Substance Abuse Treatment Program; (6) Technology Careers
Training Demonstration Projects for Incarcerated Adults and Juveniles; (7) The Honest
Opportunity Probation with Enforcement Demonstration Field Experiment; and (8)
Demonstration Field Experiment: Fostering Desistance Through Effective Supervision.
24
  Pub. L. No. 105-220, 112 Stat. 936.
25
  42 U.S.C. § 290bb-2.




Page 11                                                  GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                            or enhance substance abuse treatment and related recovery and reentry
                            services to former inmates returning to the community.


Prior Findings Related to   In 2010, we were directed to identify programs, agencies, offices, and
Fragmentation, Overlap,     initiatives with duplicative goals and activities within departments and
                            government-wide and report annually to Congress. 26 In March 2011 and
and Duplication across
                            February 2012, we issued our first two annual reports in response to this
DOJ Grant Programs          requirement. 27 In our 2012 report and a subsequent follow-on report, we
                            found that of the 253 grant solicitations that DOJ issued in fiscal year
                            2010, there was overlap across 10 justice areas, including corrections,
                            recidivism, and reentry. We reported that this overlap contributed to the
                            risk of unnecessarily duplicative grant awards for the same or similar
                            purposes. 28 We also reported that DOJ generally lacked awareness of the
                            extent to which its grant programs overlapped and thus was not
                            positioned to minimize the risk of potential unnecessary duplication before
                            making grant awards. In the July 2012 report that expanded on these
                            findings, we recommended, among other things, that DOJ assess its
                            grant programs for overlap and that DOJ require its grant applicants to
                            report past, current, and prospective federal funding it has or plans to
                            receive. 29 DOJ agreed with our recommendations and has begun to take
                            steps to implement them, such as exploring options to carry out an
                            assessment to determine the extent of unnecessary duplication, if any,
                            and the risk associated with unnecessary program duplication.




                            26
                             Pub. L. No. 111-139, § 21, 124 Stat. 8, 29-30 (2010).
                            27
                             GAO-11-318SP and GAO-12-342SP.
                            28
                             GAO-12-517 and GAO-12-342SP.
                            29
                             GAO-12-517.




                            Page 12                                              GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Federal Reentry Grant
Programs Are
Fragmented but
Minimally
Overlapping,
Reducing the Risk for
Duplication

Nine Reentry Grant        DOJ, Labor, and HHS separately provided new or continuation grant
Programs Are Fragmented   funding to support direct services to the adult reentry population through
across Three Federal      nine grant programs in fiscal year 2011. Since more than one federal
                          agency is involved in this same broad area of national interest, these
Agencies                  programs are fragmented. As shown in table 2, these agencies awarded
                          about $630 million to new grantees in that year. 30 In some cases, the
                          program is exclusively for reentry—as is the case with Labor’s RExO
                          program. In other instances, such as DOJ’s Edward Byrne Memorial
                          Justice Assistance Grant program, grantees may use the money for
                          reentry-related services, but they may also use it for other criminal justice-
                          related matters, such as indigent defense. 31




                          30
                            This amount includes funding for “new” awards—awards for grantees that are not
                          currently receiving funds, and does not include funding for “continuation” awards—awards
                          made to grantees to continue a program that was initially awarded funding in a prior year.
                          Some of the grant solicitations that awarded funds in fiscal year 2011 were open to both
                          juvenile and adult reentry populations.
                          31
                            Indigent defense refers to the defense of individuals accused of a crime and unable to
                          afford representation.




                          Page 13                                               GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Table 2: Fragmentation across Federal Reentry Grant Programs in Fiscal Year 2011

                                                                                                                                         Funding for
                                                                                                   Funding            Number of new     new grantees
                                                                         Number of               awarded to         grantees specific     specific for
Department/agency Grant program                                        new grantees            new grantees                to reentry        reentry
Justice/Bureau of    Second Chance Act                                        99               $40,983,248                99            $40,983,248
Justice Assistance
                     Residential Substance Abuse                              55               $22,817,755               N/Aa
                     Treatment for State Prisoners
                     Edward Byrne Memorial Justice                            56              $246,018,352               N/Aa
                     Assistance Grant
                     Justice and Mental Health                                40                $7,757,426               N/Aa
                     Collaboration
Labor/Employment     Reintegration of Ex-Offenders                            25b              $30,227,870                25            $30,227,870
and Training
Administration
Health and Human     Programs of Regional and National                       262              $160,854,143               N/Ac
Services/Various     Significance (includes the Offender
Agencies             Reentry Program)
                     (Agency: Substance Abuse and Mental
                     Health Services Administration)
                     Healthy Marriage Promotion and                          134d             $121,393,729                 5             $6,744,690
                     Responsible Fatherhood Grants
                     (Agency: Administration for Children
                     and Families)
                     The Linkage to Life Program:                            N/Ae
                     Rebuilding Broken Bridges for Minority
                     Families Impacted by HIV/AIDS
                     (Agency: Office of the Secretary)
                     Health Improvement for Re-entering                      N/Af
                     Ex-offenders Initiative
                     (Agency: Office of the Secretary)
                                           Source: GAO analysis of information obtained from DOJ, Labor, and HHS.
                                           a
                                             Not applicable; according to DOJ officials, they are not able to separate out grant funds provided for
                                           reentry-related services.
                                           b
                                             Department of Labor Reintegration of Ex-Offenders funds are awarded on a program-year basis.
                                           c
                                             Not applicable; no new grants were awarded in fiscal year 2011, only continuation funding was
                                           provided in this year. HHS provided continuation funds totaling $16,373,000 to 41 grantees.
                                           d
                                             This includes 14 child welfare grants issued under this grant program.
                                           e
                                             Not applicable; no new grants were awarded in fiscal year 2011, only continuation funding was
                                           provided in this year. HHS provided continuation funds totaling $2,840,000 to six grantees. According
                                           to HHS officials, all six grantees provide services to the reentry population, as well as other target
                                           populations. However, the funds cannot be separated out by target population.
                                           f
                                             Not applicable; no new grants were awarded in fiscal year 2011, only continuation funding was
                                           provided in this year. HHS provided continuation funds totaling $1,977,511 to eight grantees—all that
                                           provide services to the reentry population.




                                           Page 14                                                                  GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                           Fragmentation of these federal grant programs is due in part to the
                           legislative creation of the programs. For example, under the Second
                           Chance Act of 2007, DOJ is directed to administer federal grants to
                           provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing,
                           mentoring, and other services that can help reduce recidivism. 32
                           Accordingly, DOJ developed the SCA grant program, and issued a variety
                           of solicitations under this grant program. While HHS is required to
                           address priority substance abuse treatment needs of regional and
                           national significance, the Secretary may carry out these activities directly
                           or through grants or cooperative agreements, and accordingly, HHS
                           developed the ORP solicitation. 33


Grant Program Overlap Is   When considering, collectively, which applicants are eligible for the grant
Minimal and the Risk of    programs, the extent to which the reentry population is the sole target of
Duplication Is Low         the grant programs’ services, and the primary services these grant
                           programs fund, we found that overlap across the nine programs was
                           minimal. Therefore, the risk of duplication—when two or more agencies or
                           programs are engaged in the same activities, provide the same services
                           to the same beneficiaries, or provide funding for the same purpose—is
                           low.

                           With respect to applicant eligibility, because there are three primary
                           categories of applicants—state and local governments; tribal
                           governments; and private, nonprofit, and community-based
                           organizations—there is some overlap in this area. Specifically, as
                           illustrated in table 3, five of the nine grant programs extended eligibility to
                           all three categories of applicants. 34 However, one allowed only state and
                           local government applicants, and another allowed only private, nonprofit,
                           or community-based applicants. Analyzing the data from the vantage
                           point of the applicants themselves, state and local government agencies
                           could apply to eight of the nine programs; tribal governments could apply
                           to seven; and private, nonprofit, or community-based could apply to six.



                           32
                             42 U.S.C. § 3797w.
                           33
                             42 U.S.C. § 290bb-2.
                           34
                             Included in the five grant programs that were open to all categories of applicants is the
                           SCA grant program; however, only one of the eight solicitations for that program in fiscal
                           year 2011 was open to nonprofit organizations. This solicitation required grant applicants
                           to partner with a governmental agency.




                           Page 15                                                GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Table 3: Variations in Applicant Eligibility across Federal Reentry Grant Programs, Fiscal Year 2011

                                                                                                             Eligible entity
                                                                                                                                  Private,
                                                                                                                                  nonprofit, or
                                                                                          Governmental                            community-
                                                                                          agencies (state,    Tribal              based
Department      Grant program                                                             local)              government          organizations
Justice         Second Chance Act                                                                 X                   X                  Xa
                Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners                         X
                Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant                                    X                   X
                Justice and Mental Health Collaboration                                           X                   X
Labor           Reintegration of Ex-Offenders                                                                                            X
Health and      Programs of Regional and National Significance (includes the                      X                   X                  X
Human           Offender Reentry Program)
Services
                Healthy Marriage Promotion and Responsible Fatherhood                             X                   X                  X
                Grants
                The Linkage to Life Program: Rebuilding Broken Bridges for                        X                   X                  X
                Minority Families Impacted by HIV/AIDS
                Health Improvement for Re-entering Ex-offenders Initiative                        X                   X                  X
                                           Source: GAO analysis of grant solicitations.
                                           a
                                            Only one of the eight grant solicitations issued in fiscal year 2011 for adult former inmates under the
                                           Second Chance Act was open to nongovernmental agencies.


                                           Nevertheless, with respect to the extent to which the grant programs
                                           targeted the reentry grant population, we found greater variation and less
                                           overlap. Across the nine programs, as table 4 illustrates, three restricted,
                                           or targeted, their funds exclusively for use in assisting the reentry
                                           population. These were DOJ’s SCA program, Labor’s RExO program,
                                           and HHS’s Health Improvement for Re-entering Ex-offenders Initiative.
                                           Another five programs offered a range of solicitations, but at least one of
                                           these programs’ solicitations exclusively targeted the reentry population.
                                           For example, HHS issued a solicitation for ORP under its Programs of
                                           Regional and National Significance Program. Last, one program—DOJ’s
                                           Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program—was so
                                           broad as to encompass reentry amongst a number of other criminal
                                           justice or corrections uses. Since more than half of the programs target
                                           populations other than the reentry population, the overlap in this area is
                                           minimal.




                                           Page 16                                                        GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Table 4: Variations in Population Targets across Federal Reentry Grant Programs, Fiscal Year 2011

                                                                                                                           Corrections or
                                                                            Reentry population is    At least one grant    criminal justice is
                                                                            the exclusive target     solicitation          the target but
                                                                            of the program and all   targets the reentry   funds can be
Department        Grant program                                             solicitations            population            used for reentry
Justice           Second Chance Act                                                      X
                  Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for                                                  X
                  State Prisoners
                  Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance                                                                          X
                  Grant
                  Justice and Mental Health Collaboration                                                    X
Labor             Reintegration of Ex-Offenders                                          X
Health and        Programs of Regional and National                                                          X
Human Services    Significance (includes the Offender Reentry
                  Program)
                  Healthy Marriage Promotion and Responsible                                                 X
                  Fatherhood Grants
                  The Linkage to Life Program: Rebuilding                                                    X
                  Broken Bridges for Minority Families Impacted
                  by HIV/AIDS
                  Health Improvement for Re-entering Ex-                                 X
                  offenders Initiative
                                          Source: GAO analysis of grant solicitations.


                                          We also found greater variation, and thus less overlap, when assessing
                                          the primary services these nine grant programs fund, as shown in table 5.
                                          Across the nine programs, one grant program covered a wide range of
                                          reentry services; two programs’ primary services were mental health and
                                          substance abuse; one program’s primary services were employment and
                                          life, family, and parenting skills; and the remaining five programs had one
                                          or no primary use of funding. For example, DOJ’s Residential Substance
                                          Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners primarily funded substance abuse
                                          treatment for state prisoners, and Labor’s RExO program primarily funded
                                          services for employment assistance. Analyzing the data from the vantage
                                          point of the primary services, the greatest number of programs—four of
                                          the nine—focused funding primarily on substance abuse treatment, a
                                          different grouping of three programs focused its funding for health issues,
                                          another set of three focused on mental health and substance abuse
                                          treatment, and another set of three focused on employment. Because of
                                          the range in primary services that these programs fund, the overlap in this
                                          area is minimal as well.




                                          Page 17                                                          GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Table 5: Variations in Primary Services Funded across Federal Reentry Grant Programs, Fiscal Year 2011

                                                                                    Primary services funded
                                                                                                                              None,
                                    Employment                                                                                general
                                    (Includes                                                             Life,               corrections
                                    education and                Mental or                                family, and         that could
                                    vocational                   behavioral                     Substance parenting Reentry be used for
Department Grant program            training)     Housing Health health                         abuse     skills      courtsa reentry
Justice      Second Chance               X                  X               X               X       X             X         X
             Act
             Residential                                                                            X
             Substance Abuse
             Treatment for
             State Prisoners
             Edward Byrne                                                                                                                X
             Memorial Justice
             Assistance Grant
             Justice and                                                                    X       X
             Mental Health
             Collaboration
Labor        Reintegration of            X
             Ex-Offenders
Health and   Programs of                                                                    X       X
Human        Regional and
Services     National
             Significance
             (includes the
             Offender Reentry
             Program)
             Healthy Marriage            X                                                                        X
             Promotion and
             Responsible
             Fatherhood
             Grants
             The Linkage to                                                 X
             Life Program:
             Rebuilding
             Broken Bridges
             for Minority
             Families Impacted
             by HIV/AIDS
             Health                                                         X
             Improvement for
             Re-entering Ex-
             offenders Initiative
                                             Source: GAO analysis of grant solicitations.
                                             a
                                              According to the SCA solicitation for reentry courts, a reentry court is designed to leverage
                                             partnerships among courts, social services, and the community to facilitate successful reentry.
                                             Reentry courts necessitate considerable cooperation between corrections and local judiciaries, since




                                             Page 18                                                          GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
they require the active involvement of community corrections agencies or parole boards in
transitioning former inmates back into the community through active judicial or executive branch
oversight. On its solicitation, DOJ does not define a specific model for reentry courts.


When considering the three areas together—applicant eligibility, targeting
of services, and primary services funded—the overall overlap is minimal.
Specifically, there were variations in the applicant eligibility standards and
target populations, even when grant programs allowed spending for the
provision of similar services. For example, Labor’s reentry program limits
eligibility to private, nonprofit organizations that will use the funds
primarily to assist current or former inmates—residing in or released from
any facility—with their employment needs. In contrast, one of DOJ’s
reentry programs limits eligibility to governmental entities that will use the
funds primarily to assist current or former inmates—residing in or
released from state, local, or tribal facilities—with their substance abuse
treatment needs. As we have previously reported, having multiple
agencies with varying expertise involved in delivering services can be
advantageous. 35 For example, agencies may be better able to tailor
programs to suit their specific missions and needs. We have also
previously reported that overlap among grant programs may be desirable
because such overlap can enable granting agencies to leverage multiple
funding streams to serve a single purpose. For example, according to
DOJ officials, they encourage grantees to use multiple streams of funding
to fully implement their projects when local and federal funding is limited.

Further, federal agency officials from DOJ, Labor, and HHS stated that
reentry can be enhanced by coinvestment—where a variety of entities in
one community are receiving funds from multiple sources to assist with
reentry—as these reentry programs can complement one another. We
observed the benefits of this coinvestment when we interviewed grantees.
For example, one of the nine grantees we interviewed received funds in
2011 from two different grant programs—ORP and RExO. These two
funding streams helped the grantee provide both substance abuse
treatment and employment assistance to the reentry population it served.
Another grantee received a HHS Healthy Marriage Promotion and


35
  GAO, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education: Strategic
Planning Needed to Better Manage Overlapping Programs across Multiple Agencies,
GAO-12-108 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 20, 2012); Homelessness: Fragmentation and
Overlap in Programs Highlight the Need to Identify, Assess, and Reduce Inefficiencies,
GAO-12-491(Washington, D.C.: May 10, 2012); and Financial Literacy: Overlap of
Programs Suggests There May Be Opportunities for Consolidation, GAO-12-588
(Washington, D.C.: July 23, 2012).




Page 19                                                      GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Responsible Fatherhood Grant in fiscal year 2011, and also received a
RExO grant in 2012. The former assisted fathers reentering the
community to develop parenting, relationship, and money management
skills, while the latter grant would be used to assist both male and female
former inmates with obtaining employment. Further, a few grantees
stressed that the reentry population had various needs and that it is
important that not just one need be met, but that the full array of services
be available to prevent recidivism. According to Labor officials, given the
volume of ex-offenders that are released each year, competition for
limited reentry assistance from service providers in their communities is
stiff. Of the more than 700,000 inmates released each year, according to
each agency’s most recent annual data, the SCA program provided
services to approximately 6,600; the RExO program provided services to
about 7,500; and the ORP program provided services to about 3,300. 36

Although the overlap is minimal across applicant eligibility, program
targeting, and the services the grant programs fund—and the risk for
duplication is therefore low—we have previously reported that the
existence of overlapping grant programs is an indication that agencies
should increase their awareness of where their funds are going. 37 We
have also reported that in addition to increasing their individual
awareness, granting agencies should coordinate to ensure that any
resulting duplication in grant award funding is purposeful rather than
unnecessary. According to DOJ officials, it is in the best interest of each
agency to know where there is active overlap between existing inmate
reentry projects, as this allows for coordination of service delivery and the
leveraging of federal resources, if appropriate. As we discuss in the next
section of this report, DOJ, Labor, and HHS have implemented a number
of mechanisms, partly in recognition of the overlap that does exist, to
coordinate their granting efforts. Furthermore, officials acknowledge that
even more can be done to increase awareness over the flow of federal
funds and manage the risk, however low it may be, of unnecessary
duplication.




36
  Data for the SCA and ORP program are from 2011, and data for the RExO program are
from 2010—the most recent annual data available.
37
 GAO-12-517.




Page 20                                           GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Agencies Have Taken
Steps to Coordinate
Their Reentry
Programs and Further
Reduce the Potential
for Unnecessary
Duplication in
Funding
Agencies Have               With acknowledgment of some overlap, DOJ, Labor, and HHS have taken
Acknowledged Where          a variety of steps to coordinate their reentry efforts as a means to prevent
Overlap Exists and Have     unnecessary duplication and share promising practices. The steps are
                            consistent with best practices for interagency collaboration, 38 and include
Taken Steps to Coordinate   intra- and interagency working groups, the collective Federal Interagency
Efforts                     Reentry Council, and a national resource center to obtain information,
                            such as promising practices.

                            Intra-agency coordination. Recognizing some overlap across their grant
                            programs, both DOJ and HHS developed intra-agency working groups to
                            internally coordinate their reentry efforts. For example, DOJ launched
                            Project Reentry in 2010 to “focus federal resources on increasing public
                            safety and maximizing the efficient use of public safety dollars by
                            reducing recidivism rates.” According to DOJ officials, DOJ has some of
                            the same members on Project Reentry as it has on the Federal
                            Interagency Reentry Council to ensure that communication and
                            collaboration is in place between the two groups. According to DOJ
                            officials, Project Reentry provides opportunities for DOJ components to
                            communicate; coordinate; brainstorm; and implement projects, initiatives,
                            and ideas focused on improving outcomes in prisoner reentry. Efforts of
                            Project Reentry include organizing workshops on reentry issues and
                            supporting reentry courts by developing a tool kit on reentry. According to
                            HHS officials, in 2010, its working group developed an agency-wide
                            inventory of HHS efforts to assist incarcerated and reentering individuals
                            and their families. According to a HHS official from the office that



                            38
                             GAO-06-15.




                            Page 21                                      GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
coordinated the inventory efforts, the primary purpose of the inventory is
to serve as a resource document so that HHS officials are aware of what
projects are going on and who is working on them. Although the official
stated that the working group no longer has regular meetings, members
now informally coordinate and participate in the Federal Interagency
Reentry Council.

Interagency coordination. Agency officials from DOJ, Labor, and HHS
report that they have developed strong partnerships with their counterpart
grant makers as a result of prior collaborative initiatives, such as SVORI
and PRI. Although officials from DOJ and HHS reported that some of this
grant coordination is informal and ad hoc, DOJ, Labor, and HHS have
developed more formal and ongoing coordination mechanisms, as well.
For example, DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and HHS’s Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration first developed a
memorandum of understanding in 2009 to improve formal coordination
and communication in various programmatic areas, including reentry.
Specifically, the agreement states that these agencies will coordinate on
the development of grant solicitations, grantee conferences, and the
vetting of relevant publications, among other things. Reference to this
agreement is also included in subsequent ORP grant solicitations, stating
that these agencies “share a mutual interest in supporting and shaping
offender reentry-treatment services, as both agencies fund ‘offender
reentry’ programs . . . ORP grantees will be expected to seek out and
coordinate with any local federally-funded offender reentry initiatives
including ‘Second Chance Act’ offender reentry programs, as
appropriate.” The memorandum assists these agencies in establishing a
mutually reinforcing or joint strategy, consistent with best practices for
interagency collaboration. Agency officials reported that their interagency
coordination has encouraged personal relationships among grant-
administering staff and as a result, they are in contact at various phases
in the grant life cycle. For example, officials from all three agencies said
they are sharing some draft grant solicitations with one another to obtain
feedback before issuing them. DOJ and Labor officials stated that they
share the solicitations when the subject matter is relevant and not on a
routine basis with all federal agencies. DOJ officials also stated that they
are sharing lists of funded grant recipients with Labor, and that they
publicly announce grant award decisions.

Federal Interagency Reentry Council. To enhance coordination across
the federal agencies involved in reentry activities, the council’s working
group has taken several actions since its inception in 2011. Consistent
with best practices for interagency collaboration, the council has helped


Page 22                                       GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
agencies to define and articulate a common outcome, establish mutually
reinforcing or joint strategies, identify and address needs by leveraging
resources, and agree on roles and responsibilities. Specifically, the
Federal Interagency Reentry Council has

•   Inventoried all major federal reentry programs, including grant
    programs that supported reentry services in fiscal years 2009 and
    2010, and Federal Interagency Reentry Council officials stated that
    they continue to update the inventory to include resources available in
    2011 and future years. According to HHS officials, the council
    modeled this effort after HHS’s initiative to develop its intra-agency
    inventory. Further, HHS officials stated that understanding what
    resources are available is the first step to preventing unnecessary
    duplication.
•   Convened research staff from 12 of its member agencies to regularly
    share information about reentry research and identify opportunities for
    research collaboration. Supporting the collaborative efforts of the
    council, officials from HHS, DOJ, and the Department of Commerce’s
    Census Bureau convened a research conference in January 2012 to
    discuss developing and improving federal household survey
    measures relating to incarceration. According to a HHS official, such
    measures would increase knowledge of the effects of incarceration
    and reentry on individuals and their families.
•   Working with the Office of Management and Budget, developed an
    interagency intranet site for the council, which allows all federal
    agencies to share key documents and resources. Information included
    on the site includes PowerPoint briefings and reentry-related
    recommendations.
In addition to its efforts to coordinate across federal reentry grant
programs, according to member agency officials, the Federal Interagency
Reentry Council has been focused on reducing the barriers that exist for
the reentry population. For example, the council has taken several actions
to address collateral consequences of criminal convictions—these are the
laws and policies that restrict former inmates from things such as
employment, welfare benefits, access to public housing, and eligibility for
student loans for higher education. Such collateral penalties place
substantial barriers to an individual’s social and economic advancement
and can challenge successful reentry. Appendix II provides a summary of
the council’s efforts to reduce reentry barriers and to achieve its other
goals.

The National Reentry Resource Center. The Second Chance Act
provided for the establishment of the National Reentry Resource Center,


Page 23                                      GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
which was established in 2008. 39 DOJ partially funds the center, and
under a cooperative agreement, the Council of State Governments
Justice Center manages it. 40 The center’s staff provide education,
training, and technical assistance to states, tribes, territories, local
governments, service providers, nonprofit organizations, and corrections
institutions working on reentry issues. The National Reentry Resource
Center’s mission is to advance the reentry field through knowledge
transfer and dissemination and to promote evidence-based best
practices. Some of the activities the National Reentry Resource Center
staff, along with key stakeholders, have undertaken include the
development of the Reentry Services Directories, National Criminal
Justice Initiatives Map, a library of reentry resources, and a website
known as the What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse, among other things.

•    Reentry Service Directories. In 2009, the National Reentry
     Resource Center catalogued state-led reentry efforts and launched a
     nationwide online directory of state reentry coordinators.
     Understanding the important role local governments play in reentry, in
     partnership with other stakeholders, the center has expanded the
     directories to include city- and county-led initiatives.
•    National Criminal Justice Initiatives Map. Taking the inventory on
     federal reentry resources that the Federal Interagency Reentry
     Council assembled, the National Reentry Resource Center developed
     an online, interactive map that highlights major federal reentry
     initiatives and identifies reentry grantees in every state. The map
     seeks to provide a place-based catalog of national initiatives and
     programs designed to reduce the recidivism rates of people returning
     from prison, jail, and juvenile facilities. According to Federal
     Interagency Reentry Council and Council of State Governments
     Justice Center officials, this resource allows both federal staff and
     local stakeholders to identify reentry resources in their jurisdictions
     and coordinate more effectively at the local level. However, at
     present, the map does not include the flow of funds to subgrantees.
     For example, one grantee we interviewed in New York stated that its
     program did not provide direct services in the New York area—


39
  Pub. L. No. 110-199, § 101, 122 Stat. 657, 666-667 (2008) (codified at 42 U.S.C. §
3797w).
40
  The National Reentry Resource Center is funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance,
DOJ; the Public Welfare Foundation; the Annie E. Casey Foundation; the Open Society
Institute; and the Joyce Foundation.




Page 24                                               GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
    although the grantee is listed on the map as being a provider in New
    York. Rather, the grantee stated that its program provided funds to
    four of its affiliates in other states. Council of State Governments
    Justice Center officials stated that the map is based on the Federal
    Interagency Reentry Council’s inventory and is for informational
    purposes. Further, Federal Interagency Reentry Council officials
    stated that they continually work to update the inventory, and
    associated map, and that these efforts mark the first step to visually
    depicting the general flow of federal dollars. Five of the nine grantees
    we interviewed reported utilizing the map and finding it very useful.
    For example, three grantees reported that it was useful in helping
    them identify other resources in their jurisdictions. Three other
    grantees that had not used the map stated that they think it would be
    useful for future use.
•   Library of reentry resources. The web-based library includes
    documents of interest to state and local policymakers, community and
    faith-based organizations, and the reentry population. Resources are
    organized by topic, such as juveniles, sex offenders, substance
    abuse, and mental health and include publications authored by
    organizations, researchers, service providers, and practitioners
    working in the reentry field.
•   What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse. This website—launched in
    2012—offers access to research on the effectiveness of a wide variety
    of reentry programs and practices. According to the website, it
    provides a one-stop shop for practitioners and service providers
    seeking guidance on evidence-based reentry interventions, as well as
    a useful resource for researchers and others interested in reentry. The
    clearinghouse currently includes information on employment, housing,
    and mental health, and the National Reentry Resource Center has
    plans to add additional issue areas. Since the site was recently
    launched, it is too soon to assess how grantees are using this website
    to inform their program design and implementation.
Other efforts to share promising practices across agencies. In
addition to some of the efforts listed above, DOJ, Labor, and HHS have,
for example, held conferences or meetings for their grantees so that they
may meet with one another, learn from panelists and presenters, and
share information. DOJ officials stated that for the first time, in May 2012,
its SCA conference was open to other federal agency reentry grantees.
The grantees we interviewed stated that this type of coordination with
other grantees has been, or would be, very useful, and that they learn
information about other grantees through mechanisms such as
conference calls and through their technical advisers. In addition, all three
agencies share information on their agency websites about promising



Page 25                                       GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                          practices to sustain successful reentry efforts. Specifically, DOJ maintains
                          the Crime Solutions website—CrimeSolutions.gov—which includes
                          information to assist users with practical decision making and program
                          implementation on specific justice-related programs, including reentry,
                          and presents the existing evaluation research against standard criteria.
                          The CrimeSolutions.gov and What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse are
                          linked to each other. Further, Labor maintains a website for its RExO
                          grantees to share information, such as stories of efforts of grantees, and
                          HHS officials stated that they are in the process of fully implementing a
                          similar website. Finally, the Council of State Governments Justice Center,
                          with support from DOJ, launched a reentry program database in 2010,
                          which highlights community-based reentry programs that self-report
                          promising practices and policies that facilitate successful reentry.


Agencies Have Taken       In addition to the steps that DOJ, Labor, and HHS have taken—
Action, or Have Actions   independently and through the Federal Interagency Reentry Council—to
Under Way, to Further     coordinate reentry efforts, they have also taken, or plan to take, further
                          action to reduce the potential that grantees are using funds from different
Reduce the Risk of        agencies or programs for the same purpose. As our prior work at DOJ
Unnecessary Duplication   has shown, if an applicant, either as a grantee or as a subgrantee,
                          receives multiple grant awards from overlapping programs, the risk of
                          unnecessary duplication increases, since the applicant may receive
                          funding from more than one source for the same purpose without federal
                          agencies being aware that this situation exists. Such duplication may be
                          unnecessary if, for example, the total funding received exceeds the
                          applicant’s need, or if neither granting agency was aware of the original
                          funding decision. 41 To help guard against this, HHS requires its reentry
                          grantees to provide current or potential funding information from
                          applicants. Officials stated that they have used this information for some
                          grant programs to help ensure that funds will not be awarded for activities
                          that are already supported by other agencies. Further, in response to our
                          findings and recommendations from prior work, which specifically
                          addressed issues of overlap and the importance of DOJ having
                          awareness of the other sources of funds that applicants may have applied
                          for or are receiving, DOJ has plans under way to assess all of its grant
                          programs to determine the extent of any unnecessary duplication. 42


                          41
                           GAO-12-517.
                          42
                           GAO-12-517.




                          Page 26                                      GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Further, DOJ plans to use the results of this assessment to determine
how it will require grant applicants to report on other federal funding for
the same purposes that they currently receive or have recently applied for
in their grant applications. 43 DOJ is also currently piloting such a
requirement for a limited number of programs. Although Labor currently
makes funding decisions without asking for information about and
regularly considering other sources of an applicant’s federal funding to
carry out the same or similar activities, it also has plans under way to
collect and incorporate this information into its future grant solicitations.
Labor officials acknowledged the benefits of collecting this information in
helping to further prevent duplication, and toward the end of our audit
work, told us that they have held meeting with HHS officials to learn how
HHS collects this information from its grantees. As of early November,
2012, Labor officials revised one of the department’s RExO grant
solicitations to include a requirement that prospective grantees report
other federal funding sources in their applications. Revisions to this
solicitation were in final review, and officials stated that once it is
approved, they plan to include this requirement in all future RExO grant
applications




43
  Additionally, DOJ reported in September 2012 that all fiscal year 2012 solicitations
issued through its Office of Justice Programs now include a clause that grantees must
report to DOJ any federal funds they receive that have been, are being, or will be used, in
whole or in part, for one or more of the identical cost items for which the Office of Justice
Programs granted them funds for already.




Page 27                                                 GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Agencies Are
Measuring Grantee
Performance and
Conducting Program
Evaluations, but
Additional
Information Sharing
Could Be Beneficial
Agencies Require Grantees     To assess individual grantee performance, DOJ, Labor, and HHS require
to Collect Information on a   their SCA, RExO, and ORP grantees to collect information on a variety of
                              metrics, including those specific to recidivism. 44 According to DOJ’s
Variety of Metrics to
                              Bureau of Justice Statistics, there is no single definition of recidivism that
Assess Grantees’              is used universally. 45 Instead, recidivism is composed of multiple
Performance                   measures, including, rearrest, reconviction, or a return to jail or prison
                              with or without a new sentence—all of which indicate an individual’s
                              return to the criminal justice system. 46 Therefore, agencies require
                              grantees to collect information on measures such as the number of
                              program participants who are arrested or reincarcerated. In some cases,
                              federal agencies may include all these measures in their assessment of
                              how well grantees are doing to help inmates successfully transition to
                              nonprison life. In other cases, an agency may use fewer measures.

                              For the SCA grant program, DOJ defines recidivism as “a return to prison
                              and/or jail with either a new conviction or as a result of a violation of the
                              terms of supervision within 12 months of initial release.” Although DOJ
                              officials have established a goal that SCA programs should reduce


                              44
                                Under the Second Chance Act of 2007, Pub. L. No. 110-199, § 101, 122 Stat. 657, 664-
                              667 (2008) (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 3797w), grantees are required to measure their
                              progress toward increasing public safety by reducing rates of recidivism.
                              45
                                The Bureau of Justice Statistics conducted two studies of recidivism of released
                              prisoners that provide national estimates of the recidivism rate of prisoners in the 1980s
                              and 1990s.
                              46
                                Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics,
                              Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994 (Washington, D.C.: 2002), and Recidivism of
                              Prisoners Released in 1983 (Washington, D.C.: 1989).




                              Page 28                                                 GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
recidivism, they have not set a specific numeric target. Instead, officials
stated that they compare the results individual grantees report in reducing
recidivism with the average across all SCA grantees. DOJ officials stated
that they are waiting for the results of an ongoing SCA program
evaluation, which we discuss later in this report, so that they will have
more information to determine what, if any, numerical targets would be
most appropriate and what effect the SCA program has had on
recidivism. Although DOJ officials have been collecting recidivism data
from SCA grantees quarterly, they stated that they cannot use these data
to determine the program’s impact on recidivism because they have
concerns with the validity and reliability of data. Specifically, according to
DOJ officials, some SCA grantees experienced difficulties accessing
recidivism data, and as a result, data may not accurately reflect the
criminal justice outcomes of the participants after they receive reentry
services. For example, a grantee that is a county jail facility may not have
access to criminal justice data outside its jurisdiction, which makes it
difficult to track if a participant commits another crime in a different
jurisdiction.

To help address data reliability challenges, DOJ officials stated that, as of
October 2012, they will require SCA grantees to report on recidivism
measures once at the end of their grant period rather than every quarter,
as previously required. DOJ officials told us that they believe the reduced
frequency in reporting will give grantees more time to access and review
data they acquire from secondary sources and result in numbers that
more accurately reflect recidivism outcomes. In addition, DOJ officials
stated that this change will provide DOJ staff with more time to provide
SCA grantees targeted technical assistance in data collection and
reporting, which they believe will help mitigate the challenge of acquiring
data from secondary sources. In another step to help ensure the reliability
of data DOJ collects, the department requires SCA grantees to report on
the source of their data, as well as any steps taken to ensure its validity.

For the RExO grant program, Labor defines recidivism as those cases in
which an individual is “re-arrested for a new crime or re-incarcerated for
revocation of the parole or probation order within 1 year of their release
from prison.” If a participant is rearrested and subsequently released
without being convicted of a new crime during that time, Labor stipulates
that RExO grantees may remove these participants from the recidivism
rate. Using this definition, Labor has set a target goal for its grantees that




Page 29                                        GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
no more than 22 percent of all the participants a grantee serves should
recidivate, which is half the national rate of recidivism at 12 months. 47
Labor reported to Congress as part of its fiscal year 2013 Congressional
Budget Justification that RExO grantees have achieved this goal with an
average of 14 percent of RExO participant’s recidivating. However, Labor
officials stated that recidivism can be a difficult outcome measure to track
and they have had some concerns about the accuracy of data reported by
grantees. As a result, according to Labor officials, they require RExO
grantees to maintain documentation supporting the recidivism outcomes
they report. During RExO program operations site visits, Labor officials
stated that they review case files to ensure grantees are maintaining this
documentation. Further, on an annual basis, Labor officials stated that
they review all the performance data RExO grantees submit to ensure
program outcomes have been reported for all participants. Additionally,
Labor officials stated that the ongoing RExO program evaluation,
discussed later in this report, will independently verify the recidivism
outcomes reported by grantees.

Although HHS officials stated that the department does not collect data
on recidivism from its ORP grantees because no single definition of
recidivism is used universally, HHS does require ORP grantees to report
on the “criminal justice status” of program participants, which includes
information on their arrest or incarceration. Using its definition, HHS has
set a target goal for its grantees that 95 percent of all participants will
have reported having no involvement with the criminal justice system for
the 30 days prior to the reporting period—or no more than 5 percent of all
participants reporting involvement with the criminal justice system during
this time. HHS reported to Congress in its fiscal year 2013 Congressional
Budget Justification that its ORP grantees active in fiscal year 2011
achieved this goal with 4.8 percent of participants’ reporting involvement
with the criminal justice system during the 30 days prior to the reporting
period. In contrast to Labor’s requirement that RExO grantees maintain
documentation supporting the recidivism outcomes they report, HHS
requires ORP grantees to have their participants self-report any
interaction with the criminal justice system for the 30 days prior to each
reporting period. According to HHS officials, they take steps to validate
data and perform periodic audits to ensure their validity. Table 6 provides




47
 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994.




Page 30                                              GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
an overview of the measures each agency collects from its grantees to
indicate recidivism.

Table 6: Federal Agencies’ Recidivism-Related Measures

               Grant
    Department program                   Recidivism-related measures
    Justice         Second               Number of participants who were arrested for a new
                    Chance Act           offense
                                         Number of participants who were convicted of a new
                                         offense
                                         Number of participants who had a revocation of the terms
                                         of supervised release
                                                                                        a
                                         Number of participants who were reincarcerated
    Labor           Re-            Number of participants who were rearrested for a new
                    integration of crime
                    Ex-Offenders Number of participant reincarcerated for revocation of a
                                   parole or probation order
    Health and      Offender             Number of arrests
    Human           Reentry              Number of arrests for drug-related offenses
    Services        Programb
                                         Number of nights spent in jail or prison
Source: GAO analysis of DOJ, Labor, and HHS data.
a
 Prior to fiscal year 2012, DOJ also required SCA grantees to report on the number of participants
who had a technical violation of supervised release. DOJ officials stated that this measure was
removed as of October 2012 because it was the most problematic for SCA grantees to report on
consistently and the least likely to indicate criminal behavior.
b
 The Offender Reentry Program is a grant solicitation under HHS’s Programs of Regional and
National Significance.


In addition to recidivism-specific metrics, DOJ, Labor, and HHS also
require grantees to collect and report on performance information related
to other grant purposes. For example, Labor’s RExO program is focused
on reducing recidivism through employment assistance. Accordingly,
Labor officials also require its grantees to monitor and report on the
percentage of participants who enter employment, the employment
retention rate, and the average earnings of program participants.
Similarly, as HHS’s ORP program aims to expand or enhance substance
abuse treatment and related recovery, HHS officials require its grantees
to monitor and report on the rate of substance abuse relapse and the
number of participants who receive inpatient or outpatient treatment.
Further, DOJ developed a core set of performance measures that all SCA
grantees are required to report on, such as the rate of successful program
completion, but it also includes metrics particular to the specific SCA
solicitation. For instance, since the SCA Family-Based Prisoner
Substance Abuse Treatment solicitation requires grantees to involve




Page 31                                                          GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                                           families in treatment services, DOJ requires grantees to report on the
                                           number of family members who participate in services.

Agencies Analyze Grantee                   DOJ, Labor, and HHS analyze recidivism data to improve grant program
Performance Data to                        operations in a variety of ways, but agencies could enhance information
Improve Operations but                     sharing about the methods they use to collect and analyze data to
                                           determine and report on overall program effectiveness. Agencies require
Additional Information                     their reentry program grantees to submit performance reports, at varying
Sharing Could Be                           intervals, using their respective web-based grant management systems.
Beneficial                                 According to officials from all three agencies, they use data grantees
                                           provide to determine the effectiveness of individual grantees. If data
                                           indicate a problem, officials stated that they may visit a grantee’s
                                           operations in person or otherwise provide targeted technical assistance to
                                           improve program outcomes. Table 7 describes the systems each agency
                                           uses, the frequency with which grantees are required to report, and the
                                           frequency with which agencies analyze grantee data.

Table 7: Agencies’ Use of Grant Management Systems for Performance Reporting and Analysis

                                                                                    Frequency grantees             Frequency agencies
Department       Grant management systems                                           submit reports                 analyze data
Justice          Performance Measurement Tool (PMT)                                 Quarterly, except recidivism   Quarterly, except recidivism
                 collects quantitative grantee performance information,             data, which are required       outcomes, which are
                 such as data on recidivism outcomes and participant                once during the grant          considered once at the end of
                 enrollment among others.                                           period                         the grant period
                 Grants Management System (GMS) collects narrative Semiannually                                    Semiannually
                 performance information, such as program successes
                                                         a
                 and challenges over the reporting period
Labor            Management Information System (MIS)                                Quarterly, although            Weekly and quarterly
                 collects quantitative information such as data on                  grantees can use MIS for
                 recidivism outcomes and employment rates.                          case management and
                                                                                    enter data more frequently
Health and       Service Accountability Improvement System (SAIS)                   Semiannually, although         Bimonthly and semiannually
Human Services   collects quantitative information such as data on                  grantees can use SAIS for
                 recidivism outcomes and substance abuse relapse.                   case management and
                                                                                    enter data more frequently
                                           Source: GAO analysis of DOJ, Labor and HHS data.
                                           a
                                            For the semiannual reports, DOJ requires SCA grantees to provide narrative responses to seven
                                           questions: (1) What were your accomplishments within this reporting period? (2) What goals were
                                           accomplished, as they relate to your grant application? (3) What problems/barriers did you encounter,
                                           if any, within the reporting period that prevented you from reaching your goals or milestones? (4) Is
                                           there any assistance that [DOJ] can provide to address any problems/barriers identified in question
                                           #3? (5) Are you on track to fiscally and programmatically complete your program as outlined in your
                                           grant application? (6) What major activities are planned for the next 6 months? (7) Based on your
                                           knowledge of the criminal justice field, are there any innovative programs/accomplishments that you
                                           would like to share with BJA?




                                           Page 32                                                          GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
The grant management systems DOJ, Labor, and HHS use to monitor
grantee effectiveness have different functionalities that present different
benefits to agencies and grantees in collecting and analyzing
performance data to improve operations. Specifically, Labor and HHS
require RExO and ORP grantees to use MIS and SAIS to submit
performance reports. Although grantees are required to submit reports to
Labor and HHS on a quarterly or semiannual basis, because the systems
allow grantees to enter participant-level data directly, grantees may enter
these data more frequently for case management purposes. In fact, both
agencies expect their grantees to use the systems as case management
tools. According to HHS officials, they require ORP grantees to regularly
enter participant-level data and provide data analysis training so grantees
can use data to inform program decisions. For instance, HHS officials
stated that ORP grantees use SAIS to aggregate data to identify trends or
gaps in services and then make adjustments as needed in their
operations. Further, two RExO grantees we met with reported finding
Labor’s MIS system useful, as they could use a single system for both
case management and grant-reporting purposes. In contrast, one SCA
grantee we interviewed stated that it had to develop its own case
management systems to track participant-level data, since DOJ requires
its grantees to enter aggregate, rather than participant-level, data into
DOJ’s PMT.

Because RExO and ORP grantees can use MIS and SAIS to enter
participant-level data and may do so on a more frequent basis, Labor and
HHS officials can monitor and take action in response to those data. For
instance, Labor officials use MIS to generate a weekly report that
provides them with a snapshot of performance across all RExO grantees.
According to officials, they can review data from the weekly report to see
how many participants entered employment or who was arrested or
reincarcerated. If data reveal that a particular grantee is showing a lower
than expected rate of entered employment or other result indicating a
program challenge, Labor officials stated that they take action to work
with the grantee to identify resources and technical assistance that could
improve the performance outcome. One RExO grantee we met with
stated that Labor technical assistants visited its operations site about
three or four times each year for the duration of its grant and provided
helpful assistance that the grantee believes resulted in increased program
participation. Similarly, according to HHS officials, they use SAIS on an
ongoing basis to monitor performance across ORP grantees. According
to program officials, if SAIS data indicate an issue, they can initiate on-
site clinical or administrative technical assistance on an as-needed basis
to improve a program outcome. In contrast, DOJ collects aggregate-level


Page 33                                      GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
data through PMT, which DOJ officials stated that they review quarterly.
In addition, for certain grant programs, DOJ employs a semiannual review
process that it calls GrantStat. Officials stated that during a GrantStat
review, they assess PMT performance data and other relevant
information, such as grantees’ semiannual narrative reports and input
from DOJ’s technical assistance providers. DOJ’s goal during GrantStat is
to determine how effective an overall grant program is in meeting its goals
and which grantees may need targeted technical assistance, and in which
areas, to improve their operations and participant outcomes. While DOJ
has applied the GrantStat review process to several programs that it
funds—as resources have permitted—officials stated that they used
GrantStat specifically to assess the performance of selected SCA
grantees in April and May 2011. As a result, DOJ officials stated that they
had a better understanding of the quality of data that SCA grantees
submit using PMT. They also stated that the assessment helped inform
future funding decisions, such as which SCA grants funded in fiscal year
2009 should be continued. According to DOJ officials, planning is under
way to determine the programs that will be prioritized next for GrantStat
review.

Although agency officials stated that they have had discussions about the
capabilities of their systems, agencies have not formally met with one
another, or through the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, to discuss
the relative strengths and challenges of their systems, how frequently
they collect and analyze grantee performance data, and how they
determine overall program effectiveness. For example, according to
Labor officials, they provided an informational overview of MIS to HHS
officials, and provided HHS with access to MIS so officials could test the
functionality of the system. In addition, DOJ officials stated that they had
informational discussions with other members of the Federal Interagency
Reentry Council, particularly Labor, about their performance
measurement systems. Part of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council’s
mission is to enhance communication, coordination, and collaboration
across federal agency reentry initiatives. Further, we have previously
reported on the importance of interagency coordination and information
sharing across federal entities. 48 We have also reported on the



48
  GAO, Bureau of Prisons, Improved Evaluations and Increased Coordination Could
Improve Cell Phone Detection, GAO-11-893 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 6, 2011), and
GAO-06-15.




Page 34                                            GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                           importance of measuring performance. 49 By maximizing existing
                           information-sharing and collaborative forums, such as the one the Federal
                           Interagency Reentry Council affords, all three agencies would have an
                           opportunity to share information on (1) what data they collect, (2) how
                           often they review and analyze data, and (3) what decisions their analyses
                           inform to improve program operations and report results, as well as to
                           consider the feasibility of adopting any promising practices as
                           appropriate. DOJ, Labor, and HHS generally agreed that information
                           sharing of this kind would be useful. Discussions going forward would
                           need to consider things such as the design of each system, the strengths
                           and limitations of the respective grant management systems vis-à-vis
                           each agency’s grant management policies and requirements, and the
                           cost and benefits of adopting promising practices.


DOJ and Labor Have         In addition to the program-monitoring activities that agencies have taken
Commissioned Program       at the individual grantee level, DOJ and Labor have spent approximately
Evaluations, and Efforts   $22 million to commission program evaluations to assess the
                           effectiveness of selected reentry grant programs. Program evaluations
Are Ongoing to Determine   are individual systematic studies conducted periodically or on an ad hoc
Program Effectiveness in   basis to assess how well a program is working. They are often conducted
Reducing Recidivism        by experts external to the program, inside or outside the agency, as well
                           as by program managers. As we have previously reported, for programs
                           where outcomes, such as reducing recidivism, may not be achieved
                           quickly, or where their relationship to the program is uncertain, program
                           evaluations may be needed in addition to performance measurement, to
                           examine the extent to which a program is achieving its objectives. 50
                           Accordingly, DOJ and Labor have commissioned program evaluations,
                           examples of which are listed below.




                           49
                             GAO, Managing for Results: A Guide for Using the GPRA Modernization Act to Help
                           Inform Congressional Decision Making, GAO-12-621SP (Washington, D.C.: June 15,
                           2012), and Agencies’ Annual Performance Plans under the Results Act: An Assessment
                           Guide to Facilitate Congressional Decisionmaking, GAO/GGD/AIMD-10.1.18
                           (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 1, 1998).
                           50
                             GAO, Performance Measurement and Evaluation, Definitions and Relationships,
                           GAO-11-646SP (Washington, D.C.: May 2, 2011), and Program Evaluation, Studies
                           Helped Agencies Measure or Explain Program Performance, GAO/GGD-00-204
                           (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 29, 2000).




                           Page 35                                           GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
•    The Second Chance Act authorizes DOJ’s National Institute of Justice
     to evaluate the effectiveness of the SCA projects funded using a
     methodology that generates evidence of which reentry approaches
     and strategies are most effective. 51 Accordingly, the National Institute
     of Justice commissioned evaluations of grant programs funded under
     two SCA solicitations—SCA Reentry Courts and SCA Adult
     Demonstration. DOJ estimates that a report providing final results for
     the SCA Reentry Courts will be completed in summer 2015 and that a
     report providing interim results of the SCA Adult Demonstration
     program will be completed in spring 2013. DOJ officials also told us
     that a report with final results of the SCA Adult Demonstration
     program should be completed in summer 2015.
•    Labor commissioned a program evaluation of its RExO grant program
     with officials expecting final results in June 2014. The evaluation
     began in fiscal year 2008 and examines impacts on participants’ post-
     program labor market outcomes and rates of recidivism by comparing
     outcomes of RExO participants with the outcomes of randomly
     assigned individuals who are eligible for but do not receive RExO
     services.
See appendix III for summary information regarding ongoing DOJ and
Labor ongoing program evaluations.

The findings of these evaluations will likely add to the information
agencies have to demonstrate the overall effectiveness of these
programs as currently implemented in reducing recidivism. But because
these evaluations are ongoing, it limits the available evidence agencies’
have to demonstrate their effectiveness in reducing recidivism.
Nevertheless, agencies already have the results of program evaluations
that Labor and DOJ commissioned for PRI and SVORI—predecessor
reentry programs to SCA and RExO that were intended to reduce
recidivism. In terms of recidivism, the final PRI program evaluation
published in January 2009 concluded that recidivism rates across all
grantees appeared low at 1 year postrelease. 52 However, the report noted
that findings on recidivism should be interpreted with caution because
“while [Labor] required grantees to verify and document that participants



51
  Pub. L. No. 110-199, § 101, 122 Stat. 657, 667 (2008) (codified at 42 U.S.C. §
3797w(n)).
52
 Evaluation of the Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative. A report prepared at the request of the
Department of Labor, Jan.13, 2009.




Page 36                                                GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
were not re-arrested before entering data into MIS, site visits revealed
that some grantee staff used a ‘no news is good news’ approach by
recording that participants had not recidivated, even if they were not able
to verify the outcome.” The report stated that recidivism outcome data
were missing for about 12 percent of PRI program participants.
Additionally, as noted in the evaluation report, the study did not include a
control or comparison group and therefore was not intended to assess the
effectiveness of PRI at improving program outcomes. DOJ’s National
Institute of Justice’s evaluation of the SVORI program concluded that
when compared with nonprogram participants, SVORI participants
showed no discernible differences on outcomes with respect to
recidivism. 53 A subsequent report funded by DOJ concluded in February
2012 that additional research was necessary into the sequencing and
effects of specific combinations of reentry services and that a longer
follow-up period with program participants may be necessary to observe
the positive effects of the SVORI program on participants’ criminal
behavior and interactions with the criminal justice system. 54 According to
DOJ officials, the design of the ongoing SCA Adult Demonstration
evaluation includes assessing the types, intensity, and quality of the
services being provided over 3 years.

Further, a 2010 DOJ Inspector General report identified program
deficiencies with both PRI and SVORI. 55 For instance, the report found
that SVORI and PRI grantees were not required to identify a baseline
recidivism rate that would be needed to calculate any changes in
recidivism rates as a result of the program. Additionally, SVORI
solicitations issued between 2002 and 2004 did not specify a time frame
after release in which to track a program participant’s recidivism. As noted
in the Inspector General report, a time frame after release in which to
track recidivism outcomes is needed so that progress can be
demonstrated and outcomes compared at varying points during the



53
 Pamela K. Lattimore and Christy A. Visher, The Multi-site Evaluation of SVORI:
Summary and Synthesis. A report prepared at the request of the Department of Justice,
December 2009.
54
  Pamela K. Lattimore and Christy A. Visher, et al. Prisoner Reentry Services: What
Worked for SVORI Evaluation Participants? (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 2012). The
Department of Justice provided federal funds for this report to be prepared.
55
 DOJ Office of the Inspector General, Office of Justice Programs’ Management of Its
Offender Reentry Initiatives (Washington, D.C.: July 2010).




Page 37                                              GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
              monitoring period. In addition, the report recommended, among other
              things, that agencies require reentry grantees to establish baseline
              recidivism rates to facilitate comparison of recidivism rates between
              participants of reentry programs and nonparticipants. For both the SCA
              and RExO reentry grant programs, DOJ and Labor have taken steps to
              address some of the deficiencies. For example, DOJ requires its SCA
              grantees to provide a baseline recidivism rate they can use later to
              determine program impact, if any, on recidivism. Additionally, both DOJ
              and Labor have specified a 12-month time frame after release from prison
              or jail by which to measure recidivism. Further, according to Labor
              officials, as a result of the deficiencies identified with the PRI and SVORI
              programs, the department implemented several steps, including annually
              reviewing data, to ensure the reliability and validity of the recidivism data
              that RExO grantees report.

              In contrast, HHS officials stated that although they do conduct program
              evaluations, they have not done this for ORP because of its size
              compared with other HHS grant programs. According to HHS’s Office of
              the Inspector General, HHS is the largest grant-making organization in
              the federal government, awarding $370 billion in grants in fiscal year
              2010. 56 However, HHS does permit ORP grantees to spend up to 20
              percent of their grant funds on program evaluations and data collection.
              According to HHS officials, they collect and periodically review these
              evaluations and have used the findings, alongside other research, to
              change elements of program design. For example, officials stated that
              they changed the ORP solicitation to require that grantees work with
              correctional facilities to ensure a smoother transition and greater
              continuity of treatment services as an inmate transitions to community-
              based treatment. However, officials stated that the majority of
              performance data they use to analyze ORP’s overall program
              effectiveness is gathered through the information individual grantees
              report using SAIS.


              Given the number of federal agencies involved in reentry, the high levels
Conclusions   of recidivism, and current resource constraints facing the federal
              government, it is important that federal agencies be well aware of how


              56
                HHS Office of the Inspector General, Top Management and Performance Challenges
              Facing the Department of Health and Human Services in Fiscal Year 2011, (Washington,
              D.C.: November 2011).




              Page 38                                            GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                      their grant funds are spent and monitor grantee performance to ensure
                      the highest return on federal investment. Accordingly, federal agencies
                      have taken a variety of actions to enhance coordination to prevent
                      unnecessary duplication and monitor grantees performance. These
                      actions include developing a memorandum of understanding to improve
                      formal coordination and communication, sharing draft grant solicitations
                      with one another to obtain feedback before issuing them, and
                      inventorying all major federal reentry programs. Additionally, as multiple
                      agencies are involved in federal efforts to reduce recidivism, they have an
                      opportunity to learn from one another about promising approaches for
                      collecting and analyzing data and making determinations about individual
                      grantee and overall grant program effectiveness. Given that the effect of
                      prior reentry efforts—SVORI and PRI—on recidivism was inconclusive,
                      effective analysis of recidivism data gathered from current reentry
                      programs is particularly important. However, DOJ, Labor, and HHS
                      officials have not formally shared information on the relative strengths and
                      limitations of the respective grant management systems and their unique
                      approaches to monitoring outcomes. By taking action to share information
                      on how well their grantees reduce recidivism, agencies could leverage
                      existing collaborations, such as the Federal Interagency Reentry Council,
                      and further strengthen their program management.


                      To better utilize the performance information they collect from grantees,
Recommendations for   enhance the capacity of their respective grant management systems, and
Executive Action      improve overall management of reentry programs designed to reduce
                      recidivism, we recommend that the Attorney General, the Secretary of
                      Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services maximize
                      existing information-sharing forums, such as the Federal Interagency
                      Reentry Council, to (1) share details on how agencies collect and analyze
                      their data, as well as how they determine program effectiveness, and (2)
                      consider the feasibility of adapting any promising practices in the future.


                      We provided a draft of this report to DOJ, Labor, and HHS for comment.
Agency Comments       We received written comments from each that are reproduced in
                      appendixes IV through VI, respectively. In addition, DOJ and HHS
                      provided technical clarifications, which we incorporated where
                      appropriate.

                      DOJ concurred with the recommendation in this report. Labor and HHS
                      did not specifically state whether they concurred with our
                      recommendation. All three departments reported that they would


                      Page 39                                      GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
establish a subcommittee of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council
Staff Working Group in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013 to (1) share
performance measures, (2) assess and monitor grant performance
information collected from grantees with a goal of improving overall
management of reentry programs designed to reduce recidivism, and (3)
communicate best practices for improving the coordinated delivery of
evidenced-based services. These proposed steps, if implemented, would
address the intent of our recommendation.


We are sending copies of this report to the Attorney General, the
Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services,
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.

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 VII.




David C. Maurer, Director
Homeland Security and Justice Issues




Page 40                                        GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Appendix I: The Role of the Federal Bureau
              Appendix I: The Role of the Federal Bureau of
              Prisons in Reentry



of Prisons in Reentry

              According to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Federal Bureau of
              Prisons (BOP), the process of reentry begins the day an inmate is
              incarcerated, and generally should continue after an inmate is released.
              BOP considers reentry to be a high priority and includes it in its mission:
              “The mission of the BOP is to protect society by confining offenders in the
              controlled environments of prisons and community-based facilities that
              are safe, humane, cost-efficient, and appropriately secure, and to provide
              inmates with a range of work and other self-improvement programs that
              will help them adopt a crime-free lifestyle upon their return to the
              community.”

              BOP estimated that about $640 million of its $6.6 billion fiscal year 2012
              operating budget is dedicated to reentry activities. According to BOP
              officials, the estimate is based on the costs of larger programs that
              specifically support reentry, such as education and vocational training
              initiatives and drug treatment programs. But officials stated that because
              reentry is a process and not a specific program, some initiatives that
              support reentry would not be captured in this estimate. For example, at a
              minimum, all BOP institutions offer the General Equivalency Diploma or
              English as a Second Language programs and therefore BOP included the
              costs of these programs as part of its reentry activities budget. However,
              the estimate does not include BOP-sponsored activities that are relevant
              to reentry that may be held on more of an ad hoc basis at individual BOP
              institutions. As we reported in September 2012, according to BOP
              officials, growth in the inmate population has led to increased waiting lists
              for programs. 1 For instance, as of the end of fiscal year 2011, about 2,400
              inmates in male medium security institutions participated in residential
              drug treatment, almost 3,000 more inmates were on the waiting list to
              participate, and the average wait for enrollment exceeded 3 months.
              Table 8 illustrates the variety of reentry-related programs BOP provides.




              1
               GAO, Bureau of Prisons: Growing Inmate Crowding Negatively Affects Inmates, Staff,
              and Infrastructure, GAO-12-743 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 12, 2012).




              Page 41                                             GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                                             Appendix I: The Role of the Federal Bureau of
                                             Prisons in Reentry




Table 8: Selected BOP Inmate Reentry Programs and Activities

                                                                                    Number of correctional
                                                                                    facilities offering the
Reentry program                                                                     program, fiscal year    Program participants,
                                                                       a
categories            Examples of BOP reentry programs/activities                   2011                    fiscal year 2011
Drug treatment        Programs include the following:
                      •   Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program: 9- to 12-       Residential: 63               Residential: 18,757
                          month intensive drug abuse treatment program.             Non-Residential : all         Non-Residential: 15,211
                      •   Non-Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program:             Drug Abuse Education:         Drug Abuse Education:
                          flexible program geared toward inmates with low-level     all                           41,243
                          substance abuse treatment needs.
                                                                                    Community Drug                Community Transition:
                      •   Drug Abuse Education: program for inmates with a          Transition is provided at     16,973
                          history of drug abuse that encourages self-               Residential Reentry
                          examination on drug abuse and the cycle of crime.         Centers.
                      •   Community Transition Drug Abuse Treatment:
                          program supports the continuation of drug abuse
                          treatment for inmates through their period of
                          community transition.
Education/            Programs include General Equivalency Diploma, English         All correctional facilities   General Equivalency
vocational training   as a Second Language, and Adult Continuing Education          offer General                 Diploma: 20,979
                      (includes classes such as computer literacy and financial     Equivalency Diploma,          English as a Second
                      planning, among others).                                      English as a Second           Language: 2,862
                                                                                    Language, and Adult
                                                                                    Continuing Education.         Continuing Education:
                                                                                                                  17,946
                                                                                    Certain facilities may
                                                                                    offer additional classes
                                                                                    or workshops to
                                                                                    supplement the primary
                                                                                    curriculum.
Psychology            Programs include the following:                               Non-Residential Sex           Non-Residential: 455
services and sex      •   Non-Residential Sex Offender Management: moderate         Offender Management:          Residential: 112
offender                  intensity program primarily for first-time sexual         5
management                                                                                                        Challenge: 1,979
                          offenders.                                                Residential Sex
                                                                                    Offender Management:          Resolve: 2,198
                      •   Residential Sex Offender Management: intensive
                          program designed for sexual offenders convicted of        1
                          multiple offenses.                                        Challenge: 14
                      •   Challenge: residential treatment program for high-        Resolve: 10
                          security inmates with a history of substance abuse or
                          mental illness.
                      •   Resolve: treatment program for female inmates with
                          trauma-related mental illness.
Residential Reentry BOP contracts with Residential Reentry Centers to help       All Residential Reentry          72,494
Centers             facilitate an inmate’s community transition. Centers provide Centers
                    inmates with employment counseling and job placement
                    assistance, financial management assistance, and
                    substance abuse treatment or counseling as well as other
                    services, which may vary by facility.




                                             Page 42                                                  GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                                         Appendix I: The Role of the Federal Bureau of
                                         Prisons in Reentry




                                                                                   Number of correctional
                                                                                   facilities offering the
Reentry program                                                                    program, fiscal year    Program participants,
categories        Examples of BOP reentry programs/activitiesa                     2011                    fiscal year 2011
Faith-based       Programs include Life Connections and Threshold.
programs          •   Life Connections: 18-month multifaith-based                  Life Connections: 5           Life Connections: 394
                      residential program that includes mentoring and              Threshold: 78                 Threshold: 757
                      community service, among other things.
                  •   Threshold: 6- to 9-month nonresidential version of Life
                      Connections.
Release           Program includes classes or presentations providing              117                           62,236
preparation       employment assistance such as résumé preparation and
program           job search strategies.
                                         Source: GAO analysis of BOP documents.
                                         a
                                          For residential programs, inmates live in a unit separate from the general BOP population. For
                                         nonresidential programs, inmates are typically housed among the general population.


                                         Further, BOP developed a plan in 2011 to implement the Inmate Skills
                                         Development Initiative. Through this initiative, BOP intends to measure
                                         skills inmates acquired through effective programs with the goal of
                                         reducing rates of recidivism. Once fully implemented, the process will
                                         involve identifying inmate strengths and weaknesses using a
                                         standardized assessment tool, linking programs used to identify specific
                                         deficit areas, and tracking the inmates’ progress on their individualized
                                         plans throughout incarceration. According to BOP officials, correctional
                                         facilities are currently utilizing an assessment tool to measure inmates’
                                         skills, and consider the initiative’s plan to be a living document that they
                                         will continue to update and improve. In 2010, we reported on BOP’s
                                         progress in implementing the Inmate Skills Development Initiative. 2 In that
                                         report, we recommended that BOP develop a plan for implementing the
                                         initiative that includes key tasks, responsibilities and timelines, as well as
                                         a comprehensive cost estimate. BOP has since taken actions to
                                         implement these recommendations.




                                         2
                                          GAO, Federal Bureau of Prisons: BOP Has Mechanisms in Place to Address Most
                                         Second Chance Act Requirements and Is Working to Implement an Initiative Designed to
                                         Reduce Recidivism, GAO-10-854R (Washington, D.C.: July 14, 2010).




                                         Page 43                                                      GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Appendix II: Federal Interagency Reentry
              Appendix II: Federal Interagency Reentry
              Council Accomplishments



Council Accomplishments

              The Attorney General convened the Federal Interagency Reentry Council
              for its first meeting on January 5, 2011. At that meeting, the council
              adopted a mission statement to (1) make communities safer by reducing
              recidivism and victimization, (2) assist those returning from prison and jail
              in becoming productive citizens, and (3) save taxpayer dollars by lowering
              the direct and collateral costs of incarceration. In addition, the council
              developed the following goals:

              •   identify research and evidence-based practices, policies, and
                  programs that advance the council’s mission around prisoner reentry
                  and community safety;
              •   identify federal policy opportunities and barriers to improve outcomes
                  for the reentry population;
              •   promote federal statutory, policy, and practice changes that focus on
                  reducing crime and improving the well-being of formerly incarcerated
                  individuals, their families, and communities;
              •   identify and support initiatives in the areas of education, employment,
                  health, housing, faith, drug treatment, and family and community well-
                  being that can contribute to successful outcomes for formerly
                  incarcerated individuals;
              •   leverage resources across agencies that support this population in
                  becoming productive citizens, and reducing recidivism and
                  victimization; and
              •   coordinate messaging and communications about prisoner reentry
                  and the administration’s response to it.
              According to the council, reentry is not only a public safety issue, but it
              also involves a variety of other issues, as shown in figure 2.




              Page 44                                        GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                                      Appendix II: Federal Interagency Reentry
                                      Council Accomplishments




Figure 2: Issues Related to Reentry




                                      To address this wide range of issues, at its first meeting, the council
                                      developed a number of short-term issues on which to focus. These
                                      included

                                      •   providing visibility and transparency to federal reentry programs and
                                          policies,
                                      •   coordinating and leveraging federal resources for reentry, and
                                      •   removing federal barriers to reentry.




                                      Page 45                                       GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                                           Appendix II: Federal Interagency Reentry
                                           Council Accomplishments




                                           Council working group members, who currently represent 20 federal
                                           agencies, reported in 2011 and 2012 accomplishing several activities to
                                           achieve these short-term goals, some of which are highlighted in table 9. 1

Table 9: Federal Interagency Reentry Council Accomplishments

Short-term goals                           Accomplishments
Providing visibility and transparency to   •  Reentry public education materials. Council agencies developed and disseminated
federal reentry programs and policies         a set of public education materials, including the Reentry Council Overview, and the
                                              Reentry MythBusters series. Reentry MythBusters are fact sheets designed to clarify
                                              existing federal policies that affect formerly incarcerated individuals and their families
                                              in areas such as public housing, access to benefits, parental rights, employer
                                              incentives, and more.
                                           •  Website. Council agencies launched a website, which is housed within the
                                              Department of Justice-funded National Reentry Resource Center. The website
                                              provides public access to materials, activities, agency contacts, an interactive map of
                                              federal reentry resources, and a broad set of informational resources including the
                                              What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse.
                                           •  Leadership and visibility. Leaders and staff from many of the council agencies
                                              highlighted reentry in speeches, meetings, congressional briefings, and testimonies in
                                              Washington, D.C. and around the country. They also held reentry-focused events and
                                              met with key stakeholder organizations, including the major state, city, and county
                                              associations; faith-based groups; research and policy organizations; foundations;
                                              advocates; and others. Council agencies have also contributed to recent statewide
                                              Reentry Summits.
Coordinating and leveraging federal        •   Federal reentry inventory. Council agencies inventoried the major federal reentry
resources for reentry                          resources going to states and localities. The National Reentry Resource Center then
                                               developed an interactive map that describes the major federal reentry initiatives and
                                               identifies active reentry grants in every state and by each federal agency.
                                           •   Intranet site. The Office of Management and Budget developed an interagency
                                               intranet site for the council, which allows all agencies to share material in one place.
                                           •   Collaborative reentry solicitations. Several agencies have collaborated to (1)
                                               develop new solicitations that reflect the reentry priorities of their agencies and/or (2)
                                               solicit input into and enhance joint planning for their existing funding streams.
                                           •   Reentry Researcher Network. Council agencies convened research staff from 12
                                               federal agencies to share information about reentry research and identify
                                               opportunities for collaboration. The reentry researcher network is developing an
                                               inventory of reentry research under way and is hosting a series of research briefings



                                           1
                                            Agencies include the Department of Justice, Department of Interior, Department of
                                           Agriculture, Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services, Department
                                           of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Education, Department of Veterans
                                           Affairs, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Social Security Administration, Domestic
                                           Policy Council, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, White House Office of Faith-
                                           Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Office of Personnel Management, Office of
                                           Management and Budget, Internal Revenue Service, Federal Trade Commission,
                                           Interagency Council on Homelessness, Small Business Administration, and Court
                                           Services and Offender Supervision Agency.




                                           Page 46                                                  GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                                       Appendix II: Federal Interagency Reentry
                                       Council Accomplishments




Short-term goals                       Accomplishments
                                          on agency-funded projects.
                                       •  National Reentry Conference. The Department of Justice-funded conference
                                          expanded its 2012 national conference of Second Chance grantees to include
                                          grantees from other federal agencies.
                                       •  Women and reentry. The Department of Health and Human Services convened a
                                          conference focused exclusively on the reentry needs of women.
                                       •  Reentry Policy Guidance and Toolkit for U.S. Attorneys. The Department of
                                          Justice issued new guidance about U.S. Attorney involvement in reentry efforts. The
                                          Department of Justice also developed a Reentry Toolkit for U.S. Attorneys, who are
                                          increasingly engaging in reentry efforts as part of their antiviolence strategies.
                                       •  Federal Inter-branch Reentry Focus. The Department of Justice convened the U.S.
                                          Sentencing Commission, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the Federal
                                          Judicial Center, and Bureau of Prisons to share information and consider coordinated
                                          reentry strategies for the federal criminal justice population.
Removing federal barriers to reentry   •   Reducing housing barriers and homelessness.
                                           •    The Housing and Urban Development Secretary and Assistant Secretary sent a
                                                letter to executive directors of public housing authorities explaining current
                                                federal regulations and informing local public housing authorities that in many
                                                circumstances, formerly incarcerated people who have served their time should
                                                not be denied that access. Stating that “people who have paid their debt to
                                                society deserve the opportunity to become productive citizens and caring
                                                parents, to set the past aside and embrace the future. Part of that support
                                                means helping former inmates gain access to one of the most fundamental
                                                building blocks of a stable life—a place to live.”
                                           •    The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness published Searching
                                                Out Solutions: Constructive Alternatives to Criminalization, which focuses, in
                                                                                                                  a
                                                part, on effective housing strategies for the reentry population.
                                       •   Collateral consequences.
                                           •    The Attorney General wrote to state attorneys general asking them to review the
                                                collateral consequences of criminal convictions in their states and consider
                                                eliminating those that prevent reentering individuals from becoming productive
                                                members of their communities.
                                           •    The Department of Justice is leading a multiagency effort to modify or eliminate
                                                federal regulations that may impose unnecessary collateral consequences on
                                                individuals with criminal records.
                                       •   Federal barriers to employment.
                                           •    An interagency working group identified critical opportunities for reducing federal
                                                barriers to employment. It developed an action plan that includes a broad set of
                                                strategies to promote model policies; enhance existing training, enforcement,
                                                and compliance monitoring authorities in this area; create public education
                                                materials; and increase companion services to help remove barriers to reentry.
                                           •    The Secretary of Labor hosted a Roundtable on Workforce Development and
                                                Employment Strategies for people with criminal records.
                                           •    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission held a meeting examining
                                                private and government employers’ use of arrest and conviction records in
                                                employment, the applicable legal standards, and best practices of employers.
                                           •    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated enforcement
                                                guidance on the use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions.
                                                The revised guidance calls for employers to assess applicants on an individual




                                       Page 47                                                GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                   Appendix II: Federal Interagency Reentry
                   Council Accomplishments




Short-term goals   Accomplishments
                           basis rather than uniformly excluding those with criminal records from
                           consideration.
                       •   The Department of Labor finalized and distributed guidance to the public
                           workforce system regarding employer job postings that contain hiring
                           exclusions/restrictions based on criminal history.
                       •   The Office of Personnel Management is considering revising federal hiring
                           practices to ensure that individuals with criminal records are not unnecessarily
                           deterred from pursuing federal job opportunities.
                   •  Access to federal benefits and treatment.
                       •   An interagency working group developed an action plan designed to improve
                           access to federal benefits such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families,
                           food assistance, veterans, Social Security, and others that can help stabilize the
                           reentry population, and by extension their families, after release. The action plan
                           includes concrete coordination, training, and public education opportunities that
                           will improve access by clarifying policies; increasing communications across
                           agencies at the federal, regional, and state levels; and providing information and
                           tools to direct service providers.
                       •   The Department of Veterans Affairs issued a policy change in April that expands
                           eligibility for its health care to include individuals in community-based settings.
                       •   The Department of Veterans Affairs revised its administrative policy limiting its
                           prison outreach to the 6 months prior to a veteran’s release. The revised policy
                           will allow assessment and release planning with incarcerated veterans to begin
                           earlier, thus enhancing the odds of successful reentry and reintegration.
                       •   The Department of Agriculture also surveyed its nationwide partners and their
                           local affiliates to learn more about nutrition assistance services currently being
                           provided and to build on promising practices in promoting benefit access to the
                           reentry population. Department of Agriculture officials will research effective
                           programs that collect information needed to apply prior to release, ensure that
                           individuals have appropriate identification upon release, and conduct prerelease
                           outreach on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program,
                       •   The Social Security Administration is continuing to work with corrections officials
                           to establish prerelease agreements for Social Security benefits and
                           memorandums of understanding for replacement Social Security cards.
                       •   The Department of Health and Human Services is assisting the field in
                           understanding how to improve access to health care and treatment for the
                           returning population, including funding a pilot project with the Department of
                           Justice’s National Institute of Corrections to evaluate early access to Medicaid
                           as a reentry strategy, and providing information about the Affordable Care Act
                           and how its provisions might affect vulnerable populations, such as the reentry
                           population.
                   •  Child support issues for incarcerated parents. As part of the Department of
                      Health and Human Services, the Office of Child Support Enforcement is
                      spearheading a subcommittee to identify child support barriers to reentry, to build
                      new partnerships and enhance existing partnerships, and to coordinate and leverage
                      resources for child support and reentry.
                   •  Tax education products. The Internal Revenue Service created new informational
                      publications in English and Spanish that provide information on federal tax
                      responsibilities, tax credits, and tax benefits and other information for the formerly
                      incarcerated and consolidated this information on its designated Prisoner-Reentry
                      Program webpage.




                   Page 48                                                GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                   Appendix II: Federal Interagency Reentry
                   Council Accomplishments




Short-term goals   Accomplishments
                   •  Higher education policy. The Department of Education engaged agency partners,
                      internal stakeholders, and external advocacy groups to consider recent research on
                      the now-widespread use of criminal background checks in the college admissions
                      process.
                   Source: GAO analysis of Federal Interagency Reentry Council documents.
                   a
                    United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, Searching Out Solutions: Constructive
                   Alternatives to the Criminalization of Homelessness (Washington, D.C.: 2012).




                   Page 49                                                                  GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Appendix III: Summary of Ongoing Agency
                                          Appendix III: Summary of Ongoing Agency
                                          Reentry Program Evaluations



Reentry Program Evaluations

                                          Table 10 provides summary information about the Department of Justice
                                          and Department of Labor Second Chance Act (SCA) and Re-integration
                                          of Ex-offenders (RExO) evaluations of grant programs that support adult
                                          reentry services. 1

Table 10: DOJ and Labor Reentry Grant Program Evaluations

                                                                                                                      Results
Evaluation             Agency                 Cost          Length        Description                                 Expected
SCA Evaluation of      DOJ National           $2,499,944    42 months     Multisite evaluation to include a process   March 2015
Honest Opportunity     Institute of Justice                               evaluation to document the changes
Probation with                                                            necessary to implement the program, an
Enforcement                                                               outcome evaluation to determine the
Demonstration Field                                                       program’s impact on offender recidivism
Experiment                                                                and probation compliance, and a cost-
                                                                          effectiveness study to assess the
                                                                          programmatic costs and any potential
                                                                          savings achieved through reduced
                                                                          probation revocations.




                                          1
                                            There are multiple forms of evaluation studies including (1) process or implementation
                                          evaluation, which assesses the extent to which a program is operating as it was intended.
                                          It typically assesses program activities’ conformance to statutory and regulatory
                                          requirements, program design, and professional standards or customer expectations; (2)
                                          outcome evaluation, which assesses the extent to which a program achieves its outcome-
                                          oriented objectives. It focuses on outputs and outcomes (including unintended effects) to
                                          judge program effectiveness but may also assess program process to understand how
                                          outcomes are produced; (3) impact evaluation, which is a form of outcome evaluation that
                                          assesses the net effect of a program by comparing program outcomes with an estimate of
                                          what would have happened in the absence of the program. This form of evaluation is
                                          employed when external factors are known to influence the program’s outcomes, in order
                                          to isolate the program’s contribution to achievement of its objectives; (4) cost-benefit and
                                          cost-effectiveness analysis, which are analyses that compare a program’s outputs or
                                          outcomes with the costs (resources expended) to produce them. When applied to existing
                                          programs, they are also considered a form of program evaluation. Cost-effectiveness
                                          analysis assesses the cost of meeting a single goal or objective and can be used to
                                          identify the least costly alternative for meeting that goal. Cost-benefit analysis aims to
                                          identify all relevant costs and benefits, usually expressed in dollar terms.




                                          Page 50                                                GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                                           Appendix III: Summary of Ongoing Agency
                                           Reentry Program Evaluations




                                                                                                                    Results
Evaluation                Agency              Cost           Length      Description                                Expected
SCA Reentry Court         National Institute of $2,988,850   53 months   Multisite evaluation of the program to    Summer 2015
Evaluation                Justice                                        include a process evaluation to document
                                                                         and compare program models and
                                                                         implementation. An impact evaluation will
                                                                         examine rearrests, reconvictions,
                                                                         violations, and returns to incarceration
                                                                         using pre- and post-archival data and
                                                                         data from interviews and drug tests in
                                                                         select sites. Cost-benefit analyses will
                                                                         calculate avoided public costs by
                                                                         comparing program interventions with
                                                                         “business-as-usual” conditions.
SCA Adult                 National Institute of $3,656,357   53 months   Evaluation of a subsample of 15 SCA        Summer 2015
Demonstration Projects    Justice                                        adult demonstration sites funded by DOJ    (interim results
Evaluation                                                               in 2009. The evaluation will include       in spring
                                                                         impact, process, and outcome analyses      2013)a
                                                                         and cost assessments of reentry services
                                                                         provided by the sites.
SCA Adult Offender        National Institute of $2,934,589   39 months   The evaluation will include a process,    Spring 2016
Reentry Demonstration     Justice                                        outcome, and cost evaluation of eight
Projects Evaluation                                                      programs that were funded in fiscal years
                                                                         2010 and 2011. The evaluation will study
                                                                         the programs to determine whether they
                                                                         achieved the primary goals of reducing
                                                                         recidivism and increasing public safety,
                                                                         as well as other goals, including
                                                                         increased employment and education
                                                                         opportunities, reduced violations of
                                                                         conditions of release, increased payment
                                                                         of child support, increased housing
                                                                         opportunities, reduced drug and alcohol
                                                                         abuse, and increased access to
                                                                         substance abuse treatment and mental
                                                                         health services.
SCA Evaluation of the     National Institute of $3,000,000   48 months   In an effort to provide rigorous evidence    Winter 2016
Multisite Demonstration   Justice                                        of what works in reentry, the National
Field Experiment: What                                                   Institute of Justice will conduct one or
Works in Reentry                                                         more experiments of promising reentry
Research                                                                 interventions, strategies, or programs.
                                                                         Reentering offenders will be randomly
                                                                         assigned to receive the experimental
                                                                         treatment or to receive “business-as-
                                                                         usual” reentry services (or some other
                                                                         clearly defined control treatment). The
                                                                         evaluation has been funded by the
                                                                         National Institute of Justice in partnership
                                                                         with the Bureau of Justice Assistance as
                                                                         part of the Demonstration Field
                                                                         Experiment program.




                                           Page 51                                              GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                                         Appendix III: Summary of Ongoing Agency
                                         Reentry Program Evaluations




                                                                                                                                Results
Evaluation              Agency               Cost                Length              Description                                Expected
Reintegration of Ex-    Labor’s              $6,964,569          64 months           Random assignment evaluation of a         June 2014
Offenders Random        Employment and                                               demonstration serving formerly
Assignment Evaluation   Training                                                     incarcerated individuals through
                        Administration                                               employment-centered programs. The
                                                                                     impact evaluation began in fiscal year
                                                                                     2008 and examines impacts on
                                                                                     participants’ postprogram labor market
                                                                                     outcomes and rates of criminal recidivism
                                                                                     by comparing outcomes of RExO
                                                                                     participants with the outcomes of
                                                                                     randomly assigned individuals who are
                                                                                     eligible for but do not receive RExO
                                                                                     services.
                                         Source: GAO analysis of agency documents.
                                         a
                                          This evaluation was originally scheduled to be completed in fall 2013. According to DOJ officials, the
                                         project was extended by 6 months to (1) allow for a 12-month post-treatment follow-up period for all
                                         SCA participants, and (2) allow grantees time to collect criminal history and administrative data for all
                                         offenders who received SCA services if the offenders’ informed consent has been secured. These
                                         data will be used to create recidivism rates for the sample.




                                         Page 52                                                          GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Appendix IV: Comments from the
             Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
             of Justice



Department of Justice




             Page 53                                     GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
of Justice




Page 54                                     GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Appendix V: Comments from the Department
             Appendix V: Comments from the Department
             of Labor



of Labor




             Page 55                                    GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Appendix V: Comments from the Department
of Labor




Page 56                                    GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Appendix VI: Comments from the
             Appendix VI: Comments from the Department
             of Health & Human Services



Department of Health & Human Services




             Page 57                                     GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Appendix VI: Comments from the Department
of Health & Human Services




Page 58                                     GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
Appendix VII: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Appendix VII: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  David C. Maurer, (202) 512-9627 or maurerd@gao.gov
GAO Contact
                  In addition to the contacts named above, Joy Booth, Assistant Director;
Staff             Tracey Cross; Justin Dunleavy; David Alexander; Billy Commons, III;
Acknowledgments   Katherine Davis; and Eric Hauswirth made key contributions to this report.




(441026)
                  Page 59                                     GAO-13-93 Inmate Reentry Programs
                      The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and
GAO’s Mission         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 (http://www.gao.gov). Each weekday
GAO Reports and       afternoon, GAO posts on its website newly released reports, testimony,
                      and correspondence. To have GAO e-mail you a list of newly posted
Testimony             products, go to http://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,
                      Website: http://www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm
Waste, and Abuse in   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.