Bulletproof: $25 Million ‘Sitting in an Account at the Department of Justice’

April 11, 2013 - 10:33 AM

David Maurer

David Maurer, director of Homeland Security and Justice at the Government Accountability Office, testified at a House hearing about wasteful spending at the Department of Justice on April 10, 2013. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – The Government Accountability Office says the Justice Department has accumulated $27 million in unused grant funds for its Bulletproof Vest Partnership program since the program launched 14 years ago. Only $2 million of those expired grant funds have been made available for other uses – leaving $25 million in taxpayer money sitting around.

GAO's David Maurer told a House Judiciary subcommittee on Wednesday that a 2012 GAO report found that DOJ “had not taken steps to de-obligate about $27 million in unused funds from grant awards that had expired.”

When asked by CNSNews.com what happened to those funds -- which now total $25 million -- Maurer said the money is “sitting in an account at the Department of Justice.”

Since Congress passed the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act of 1998, more than $340 million in grants have been awarded.

In fiscal year 2012, the bulletproof vest program received about $24 million – so de-obligating the remaining $25 million “could have significant benefits,” Maurer said. “For example, deobligating this funding could enable the department to apply the amounts to new awards or reduce requests for future budgets.”

The 2012 GAO report urged DOJ to improve its resource management by “unobligating” expired grant funds that had been earmarked to pay for bulletproof vests and stab-resistant body armor for state and local law enforcement officers nationwide.

The DOJ has said it would “deobligate” the remaining $25 million in expired grants by the end of this month, according to the GAO findings Maurer include with his congressional testimony.

“As the fiscal pressures facing the nation continue, it is increasingly important for DOJ and other executive branch agencies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government programs,” Maurer told the panel, which called the hearing to address wasteful practices at DOJ.

President Obama’s FY 2014 budget, released Wednesday, requests $27.6 billion for the Justice Department, up from $27.1 billion in FY 2013 and $27 billion in FY 2012.

“As in previous years, this budget incorporates department-wide savings and efficiencies, but the need for a balanced, bipartisan deficit reduction plan remains an urgent priority,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.