Monday, March 27, 2006

Audit: Earmarks Dilute Anti-Drug Grants

Herald News Daily

Washington - Some states with significant methamphetamine problems have not received their share of federal money because the bulk of a grant program was steered by lawmakers to favored projects in their districts, the Justice Department inspector general said Thursday.

"As a result of the significant use of congressional earmarks in this program, funding is not always directed to the areas of the country with the most significant meth problem," Fine said report examining the grant program from 1998 to 2005.

One example cited by Fine: Missouri ranked second, behind California, in seizing 11,859 meth labs between 1998 and 2004. But it was tenth in grants received with $3.7 million.

Meanwhile, the Sioux City, Iowa, police department was given $10 million for a training program that Fine said was not focused on meth or any drug. Instead, "classes focused on enhancing general law enforcement skills, such as interviewing and self-defense," he said.

Fine also faulted Justiceā€˜s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, for its oversight of the program. The audit said there was a lack of coordination between officials in the COPS office, weaknesses in the database used to manage and track grants and insufficient and inconsistent monitoring of recipients of the money.

"The COPS office rightfully looks to the individual grantee to identify what its most pressing needs are," Peed said.

By Mark Sherman


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