By Lara Lakes Jordan
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Lax oversight of federal law enforcement grants tied up hundreds of millions of dollars for eight years and potentially shortchanged state and local crime-fighting programs, a Justice Department audit found Wednesday.
The report by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found that leftover money from thousands of expired grants between October 1997 and December 2005 sat unused because officials failed to keep close track of the programs once they ended.
If the offices had dealt with expired grants in a timely fashion, "hundreds of millions of dollars in questioned costs could have been used to provide the DOJ with additional resources to fund other programs or returned to the federal government's general fund," the audit concluded.
A Justice Department spokesman did not have an immediate response.
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At issue is the way three Justice Department offices manage grants for state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies. Fine's office has repeatedly raised what it termed serious concerns with the department's oversight of the three programs, which managed $25 billion in grants during the eight-year period.