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LEPC AUDITORS LACKED AVAILABLE INFORMATION

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Dear Source,
After spending almost a week reading and hearing news reports, editorials and letters to the editor concerning the recent audit of the Police Department, Law Enforcement Planning Commission, and Narcotics Strike Force, I find myself compelled to respond.
An audit can only be as good as the information provided to the auditor. Accurate conclusions can only be drawn from complete and accurate information. Failure to provide complete and accurate information does a disservice to both the agency being audited and the auditor providing the service. Some statements in this audit are untrue and could easily have been disproved, had the available information been provided to the auditors.
With regard to some statements concerning the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Supervisory/Advisory Board, such is the case. Correspondence files including letters to board members, their supervisors and both successful and unsuccessful applicants, as well as fiscal files including miscellaneous disbursement vouchers and internal travel documents and receipts could and should have been provided to the auditors. These documents would clearly show that the board continued to meet through 1999, and although I do not have first-hand knowledge, I assume that it continued to meet beyond that date as well.
The JJDP board, contrary to some published accounts, does not have the responsibility or authority to act on any matters other than juvenile justice. Despite their terms having expired, members of the board continued to serve in a thoroughly professional and conscientious manner. Their service was greatly appreciated. Board members were selected according to a formula that balanced representatives from the private and public sectors and stressed particular areas of expertise with regard to juvenile justice issues.
Their task, reviewing competitive grant applications and deciding among many very well-qualified and committed applicants, was a difficult one, made even more difficult by the large number of applications received and the limited amount of funds involved. The process was an extremely competitive one that frequently involved 15 to 20 applicants requesting approximately three-quarters of a million dollars at a time when available funding was slightly less than $200,000. These juvenile justice funds were provided to non-profit organizations.
With regard to other LEPC programs, certain funds were specifically reserved for government agencies and could not be subgranted to non-profit organizations. Some funds were mandated for specific government agencies. While these grants were not competitive, they were not arbitrary, either. Funding priorities were based on a territorywide strategy that had been developed with input and information from a variety of sources.
Other funds were made available to, or mandated for use by, non-profit organizations providing specific functions relating to crime victims. Again, funding requests were in excess of available funding and a competitive process was used to rate applications. Applicants were not denied grants in an arbitrary manner, and those who were denied grants were advised of the reasons for such denial. Satisfactory performance was a requirement for continuation activities.
Failure to receive a continuation grant occurred in cases where gross irregularities noted in the administration of a prior grant had not been corrected, despite opportunities to make the corrections. As a criminal justice planning agency, LEPC has as one of its functions the subgranting of funds for use by criminal justice agencies and agencies involved in drug education, prevention and treatment; for programs designed to reduce juvenile delinquency; and for programs providing services for crime victims.
As such, funds received by LEPC were, for the most part, subgranted to government agencies and non-profit groups for implementation of programs, rather than being expended directly by LEPC.
Helene Smollett
Deputy Drug Policy Adviser September 1989 – Dec. 31, 1999
St. Thomas

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