Two tribal governments may have lost out on stimulus money from the Justice Department’s Office of Violence Against Women because DOJ employees miscalculated the score used to judge their applications, according to a DOJ Inspector General’s report released Wednesday.
The report focused on the handling of $225 million provided to the Office of Violence Against Women under the stimulus enacted last year. By March 2010, the office had awarded about $215 million worth of grants in a mostly smooth process, the report found.
But some of the discretionary funding — $21 million for tribal governments to help decrease violence against American Indian and Alaskan Native women — was awarded based on miscalculations of applicants’ scores.
For some of the grants, the DOJ assigned experts to review and score applications in a peer review process. Applications were then ranked based on the score and those scores were one of several factors used to determine which applications received funding.
For the tribal governments program, the office received 76 applications, the report said. Of those, employees unintentionally miscalculated the scores on 39 applications. At least two tribal governments — the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in Idaho and Kalispel Tribe of Indians in Washington state — lost out on funding because of the miscalculated score, though they were later able to receive money for similar programs funded through the office’s regular appropriations.
“The miscalculations that affected the award decision-making process were caused by human error in adding points,” the report concluded. “Nevertheless, since such miscalculations affect discretionary award decisions, the OVW needs to institute better internal controls to check for errors in calculating scores and verify the score accuracy before ranking proposals.”