Sneak Preview: OVW Aims To Improve TA Initiative Performance

Jerry Ashworth
March 7, 2019 at 14:02:33 ET
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(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Single Audit Information Service.) The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) has stated that for federal fiscal year (FY) 2019 Training and Technical Assistance Program (TA Initiative) grants, it would assess the performance of recipients applying for a new or continued award to ensure those entities can commence work upon receiving an award, in response to one of several recommendations in a recent DOJ Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit.

Since 2010, OVW has awarded more than $300 million in grant funds to federal, state, tribal and nonprofit organizations to provide direct training and technical assistance to grant recipients and subrecipients, such as law enforcement and legal entities, in other OVW programs to improve overall response to violence against women. Such technical assistance includes in-person and online educational opportunities, peer-to-peer consultations, site visits and tailored assistance. The OIG reviewed 146 TA Initiative awards totaling $72 million made in FYs 2015 and 2016 to determine whether OVW: (1) made awards to eligible applicants, (2) monitored awards to prevent project duplication and unallowable costs, and (3) ensured that recipients are appropriately progressing on the objectives of the award.

While OIG determined that most TA Initiative recipients were successfully completing the goals and objectives of their awards, it did identify weaknesses in OVW’s administration of the program from pre-award evaluation through post-award monitoring.

Concerning the pre-award process, OIG found that OVW generally complied with all federally mandated solicitation requirements and conducted thorough and detailed reviews of applicants’ award budgets. However, it found that 95 percent of TA Initiative awards in its review did not receive final financial clearance prior to the project start date, which hindered the recipients’ ability to begin substantive work on their awards. Further, more than 40 percent of program awards OIG reviewed received final financial clearance more than five months after the project start date. “While the OIG recognizes the critical nature of a detailed and thorough financial review, we believe that proactive measures should be implemented in order to expedite the financial clearance process, while maintaining effective oversight,” OIG added.

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time here.)

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