Thursday, May 31, 2012

Newly Released GAO Reports

Sabrina I. Pacifici this morning passes along notice of some new GAO Reports on:

  • Budget and Spending GAO Schedule Assessment Guide, GAO-12-120G, May 30, 2012

  • Indigent Defense - Surveys of Grant Recipients, Select Tribes, and Indigent Defense Providers, GAO-12-661SP, May 30, 2012

  • Securities Regulation - Opportunities Exist to Improve SEC's Oversight of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, GAO-12-625, May 30, 2012

  • Tribal Law and Order Act - None of the Surveyed Tribes Reported Exercising the New Sentencing Authority, and the Department of Justice Could Clarify Tribal Eligibility for Certain Grant Funds, GAO-12-658R, May 30, 2012

  • VA Administrative Investigations, Improvements Needed in Collecting and Sharing Information, GAO-12-483
    , April 30, 2012

For those of us in county law libraries, the Indigent Defense report presents "results of surveys GAO conducted of public defender offices and agencies and of recipients of federal funding that could be used for indigent defense, or legal representation provided, in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, to individuals who have been charged with a crime but are unable to afford legal representation."

GAO found that the Department of Justice could increase awareness of eligible funding and better determine the extent to which funds help support this purpose.

"The Department of Justice (DOJ) administered 13 grant programs from fiscal years 2005 through 2010 that recipients could use to support indigent defense, 4 of which required recipients to use all or part of the funding for this purpose. DOJ also provides training to indigent defense providers, among other things.

"From fiscal years 2005 through 2010, recipients of the 4 grants that required spending for indigent defense allocated or planned to use $13.3 million out of $21.2 million in current dollars for indigent defense. However, among the 9 grants that did not require allocations or awards for indigent defense, two-thirds or more of state, local, and tribal respondents to GAO’s surveys reported that they did not use funds for this purpose, partly due to competing priorities. DOJ has listed the grants on its website. However, no more than 54 percent of grantees or public defender offices responding to GAO's surveys were aware that such funding could be used to support indigent defense. Taking steps to increase awareness would better position DOJ to help ensure that eligible grantees are aware that they can access federal funding to help address their needs. DOJ officials acknowledged that opportunities exist to enhance grantees’ awareness."

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