I am very pleased to take part in this hearing on oversight of the Justice Department grant programs. The Judiciary Committee plays an important role in examining how the Department spends taxpayer dollars, and this hearing is part of those efforts.
Starting in 1999, the Office of the Inspector General has included grant management in its annual list of the Department's Top Management Challenges. In 2013, grant management was again included in this list under "Protecting Taxpayer Funds from Mismanagement and Misuse." The continued listing of grant management as a Top Management Challenge reflects the size, scope, complexity, and associated risks of mismanagement of the numerous grant programs administered by the Department.
A review of recent IG audits and reports reveals some of the challenges facing grant administrators at the Department. These include the identification and management of high risk grantees, the implementation of appropriate training and testing methods for grantees, the establishment of procedures to verify information provided on grant applications, and improving coordination and thereby reducing duplication among the Department's many grant programs.
In a recent and particularly noteworthy matter, an IG audit last year questioned more than $19 million of the $23 million in Youth Mentoring grants awarded to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and suggested that the remaining $4 million of unused funds should be put to better use. The Justice Department announced in response to this audit that it would freeze funds to Big Brothers Big Sisters, but I am concerned that a short-term freeze does not address the underlying problem. This is particularly true given that just weeks later, the IG issued a second report questioning another grantee's use of almost $1 million in Youth Mentoring grant money.
I am greatly concerned that the problems with these grantees, and many others, went unnoticed by the Department for years, despite periodic audit reviews and oversight. I look forward to hearing today whether these IG reports are indicative of systemic issues within OJP's grant management procedures, and what Congress can do to help solve the problem.
America continues to face difficult fiscal times. Law enforcement agencies are not immune from this. There is little doubt that the financial support the federal government provides to state and local law enforcement agencies through Byrne JAG and other grants is oftentimes critical. As with many other aspects of government, these grant programs are not always designed or administered as efficiently as they should be -- which means that less money is actually sent to help the boots on the ground.
I am committed to finding ways to streamline these programs to minimize waste to ensure that they run as efficiently as possible and with less of an administrative burden on law enforcement agencies. I look forward to hearing from the Inspector General on ways in which we can address these challenges while maintaining an efficient process to provide needed support to law enforcement agencies around the country.