Grassley questions legitimacy of DOJ internal investigation

US Department of JusticeFrom Press Release


Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is raising questions about a Justice Department office’s ability to be impartial in its investigation into grants practices.  His concern follows new allegations that the office in charge of the internal review not only approved the actions in question, but was also warned of potential impropriety.

The Committee is investigating allegations that the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs routinely shows favoritism to certain entities when awarding grants instead of using a fair and open competitive process.  For example, according to whistleblowers, the National Institutes of Justice within the Office of Justice Programs allegedly coaches favored entities in the grant application process so they may be awarded grants over other entities that scored higher in the peer-review process. In the past two years, at least $58.6 million in taxpayer-funded grants were awarded allegedly through this improper process. Grants were also allegedly awarded to entities that intentionally circumvented state laws.

Whistleblowers claim that the alleged misconduct was approved by the Office of Justice Program’s Office of General Counsel despite multiple notifications that the actions were improper and likely illegal.  This office has since been tasked by Attorney General Loretta Lynch with investigating the allegations, raising questions about the independence of the review.

In a letter to Lynch, Grassley raised questions about the independence of this review and requested an explanation for why the investigation was referred to an office that is also the subject of the allegations. He also asked for records related to the allegations and whether the Department would consider publicizing grant application materials, including peer review scores, rankings and justifications for why grants were awarded, in an effort to increase transparency and promote an atmosphere of open competition.

Click here to read Grassley’s letter.