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Remarks of Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs

Attorney General's Advisory Committee Meeting
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Washington, DC

       Thank you. It's good to be here. I'm pleased to have an ongoing dialogue with this committee.

       The last time I was here, I put in a plug for the Attorney General's Advisory Committee (AGAC) to consider a subcommittee on the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). We've had this in the past, and we found it to be a great way to ensure coordination between federal prosecutors and our state and local constituents. I encourage you again to consider resurrecting it.

       I'd like to give you an update on our coordination efforts with U.S. Attorneys' Offices (USAOs) and the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) with regard to grants. As I think you all know, we have a committee of representatives from across OJP working with EOUSA and pulling in Law Enforcement Coordinators (LECs), the Office of Community Oriented Policing (COPS Office), and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) to improve coordination.

       We held our most recent conference call at the end of April. During that call, we discussed updates related to funding, training, technical assistance opportunities, webinars, research, and publications. We had another good exchange about how to improve coordination. We talked about involving LECs in the planning of OJP events, including giving USAOs opportunities to serve as co-sponsors or co-hosts.

       Our next call is scheduled for August 10, and I want to emphasize that the purpose of these calls is to allow for two-way communication. I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to identify issues for discussion, to raise questions, and to provide input. Also, your Assistant U.S. Attorneys are invited to participate, as well as your LECs.

       We're making a concerted effort to coordinate grant activities with U.S. Attorneys. We prepared reports of active grants for each of your districts and shared those with your offices. Our Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is still working on a "Secure Communities" portal, which will give LECs a closed forum to communicate with BJA staff. We're still working out the mechanics of that.

       We're also finalizing the process for allowing U.S. Attorneys' Offices to provide input into the grant application process. We'll be providing electronic notification of applications when they move to the peer review stage. As I pointed out at the last meeting, in theory, this would give USAOs an opportunity to flag whether there are any investigations targeting the applicant. I mentioned then that one issue with this is its feasibility, given the volume of notifications USAOs would receive from OJP.

       A group met in March to explore information technology strategies for providing USAO input. Tim Heaphy from the Western District of Virginia represented U.S. Attorneys on that group. The group recommended having a weekly e-mail message sent to USAOs that would list all OJP and OVW grant applications that move into peer review during that week. We would sort out the listing by solicitation and by district.

       Another step the group proposed - and one that we'll be adopting - is assigning one or two staff in every U.S. Attorney's Office to have "read only" access to the Grant Management System. That would allow them to review the full text of applications.

       Our next steps are to explore the processes for including applications, like formula grants, that are not peer reviewed. We'll proceed with the secure portal. EOUSA is going to get us an e-mail address for each district and names of those who'll need GMS access. We're working with EOUSA to develop draft protocols and guidelines that articulate what type of input USAO will be able to provide in the grant process. We're hoping to put all this in place by the end of next month.

       Before I conclude, let me just highlight some other coordination efforts since the December meeting:

  • We e-mailed all LECs to notify them of our 2010 Program Plan and BJA's Recovery Act JAG solicitation. And I encourage you to share the Program Plan with your colleagues in your districts. It's on our Web site at www.ojp.gov.
  • In January, BJA briefed USAOs and LECs on the Regional Information Sharing System and the Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative.
  • Our SMART Office is holding its annual symposium on sex offender management and accountability in Portland, Oregon as we speak. We're working with the LEC there.
  • And BJA, EOUSA, and the LECs are working together to assess the training and technical assistance needs of the mortgage fraud task forces. This will be incorporated into a mortgage fraud training curriculum.

       Thank you. As always, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on how we can better coordinate.

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