FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEOJP
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 1998202/307-0703

TWO OJP TEAMS EARN HAMMER AWARDS FOR INNOVATIVE PROJECTS

The National Performance Review (NPR) has awarded its Hammer Award to two teams of employees from the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs. These awards, which recognize government employees who make significant contributions to improving government efficiency, bring to four the number of OJP teams which have been recognized by NPR.

As the Justice Department's major grant-making arm, OJP awarded funds to about 16,000 individual grantees in Fiscal Year 1997. When OJP implemented the Phone-Activated Paperless Request System (PAPRS) in April 1997, the process by which those grantees received their funding became simpler, faster and more accurate than ever before. PAPRS, the first touch-tone telephone system of its kind for the disbursement of federal funds, has transformed the way grantees receive OJP funding. Instead of completing a number of time-consuming and complicated forms several times per year, grantees need only place a call to a toll-free number and respond to a series of automated prompts--a process that takes about 30 seconds.

Not only does PAPRS reduce time and paperwork for OJP's grantees; it also improves oversight of funds and program management. In 30 seconds, the system accesses 20 databases, performs 22 cross-checks, and responds to the customer.

The second Hammer Award recognized a federal/private partnership, led by OJP's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, that assists parents whose children have been abducted to foreign countries. The State Department estimates that each year approximately 1,000 American children are abducted to, or illegally retained in, foreign countries by a noncustodial parent. This innovative partnership provides government travel assistance to parents facing financial hardship in the search for their missing children. Parents can exhaust their life savings on telephone calls, attorneys and private investigators in the search for their missing children. Even if the children are located, often the search and legal process is so expensive that parents cannot afford the airfare to bring their children home.

Funding for the program comes from a combination of discretionary OJP funding, voluntary contributions and the Crime Victims Fund, which is derived from fines paid by federal criminal offenders--not taxpayers. Other partners in the effort include OJP's Office for Victims of Crime, the State Department's Office of Children's Issues and the non-profit National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

"The Hammer Awards are about designing government programs that make sense," said OJP Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson. "These two teams saw things we could do better--whether reducing paperwork for our grantees or helping parents who have exhausted their own resources--and designed solutions that are cost effective, efficient and responsive."

These awards bring OJP's total number of Hammer Awards to four: past Hammers have recognized the automation of the Local Law Enforcement Block Grants program and the Partnerships Against Violence on-line resource center (PAVNET). The Block Grant Automation Team has also been recognized through the Department of Justice's JustWorks program, which recognizes the work of teams of Department employees that advance the principles of the NPR and can be replicated in other Department components.

For more information about OJP and its programs, visit the OJP home page at www.ojp.usdoj.gov or call the National Criminal Justice Reference Service toll-free at 1-800/851-3420.

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Contact: Angela Hussein at 202/305-0779