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THE BLOCK GRANT PROGRAMS OF THE LAW ENFORCE
MENT ASSISTANCE ADMINISTRATION
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 5, 1971
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:05 a.m., in room 2447, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John S. Monagan (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives John S. Monagan, Dante B. Fascell, Fernand J. St Germain, Sam Steiger, and Charles Thone.
Also present: Richard L. Still, staff director; Charles A. Intriago, counsel; Jeremiah S. Buckley, counsel; William C. Lynch, staff investigator; Andrew G. Marek, staff auditor; Frances M. Turk, clerk; Jane Cameron, assistant clerk; and J. P. Carlson, minority counsel, Committee on Government Operations.
Mr. MONAGAN. The hearing will come to order.
Since the enactment of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act in June 1968, the Legal and Monetary Affairs Subcommittee has maintained a close review of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration which was established by title I of that act. A little over 2 months ago, the subcommittee commenced public hearings on the administration of the block grant programs of LEAA.
The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration administers the most rapidly growing program in the Federal Government and certainly one of the most important. Its primary aim is to forge a partnership among Federal, State, and local governments in a common effort to reduce the level of crime and improve the criminal justice system, primarily through sharply increased financial and technical assistance from the Federal Government.
From passage of the act this program has received my support. It continues to receive it. I am certain those views are shared by my colleagues. Equally strong is my belief that for every taxpayer dollar invested in this program there should be a commensurate return in service, performance, and equipment. The American taxpayer is entitled to no less. Certainly the record of these hearings demonstrates that the block grant programs of LEAA have been characterized by uneven performance. Our goal during this phase of hearings on LEAA is to assess the track record as the program goes into its fourth year of operation and determine how Congress, LEAA, and its grant
ees can work together to achieve reforms and modifications which will realize for this program the promise that it had at its inception.
As our first witness today the subcommittee is pleased to have before it a man who combines both a high standing in the criminal justice system and an imtimate knowledge of the formative period of LEAA. Formerly having served as assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, assistant attorney general of Massachusetts, and head of the President's Crime Commission's Task Force on Organized Crime, Mr. Charles H. Rogovin now serves as president of the Police Foundation which in certain respects serves functions in the private sector similar to those of LEAA. Mr. Rogovin served as Administrator of LEAA from March 1969 until he resigned in June 1970.
We are very pleased to have you with us today, Mr. Rogovin. We will listen with interest to any statement you may care to make. STATEMENT OF CHARLES H. ROGOVIN, PRESIDENT, POLICE
FOUNDATION Mr. Rogovin. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I am pleased to be here. With your permission, may I say preliminarily for the record, that my comments this morning are made in my individual capacity and, obviously, do not necessarily reflect the views of the board of directors of the Police Foundation or other members of the staff of the foundation.
With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I would like to address myself to some prepared remarks, and then, of course, during or thereafter, at your pleasure, make myself available for such questions as Mr. MONAGAN. You may proceed.
Mr. ROGOVIN. I served as Administrator of LEAA from March 25, 1969, until June 1, 1970; and during the 16 months since my resignation, I have continued to be interested in the program, although I do not profess an intimate knowledge of the details of LEAA operations since my departure.
It is in part for this reason that I shall attempt to confine my remarks to overall policy questions about the LEAA, and leave specific questions to your discretion. But it is not only for this reason that I wish to direct my attention to policy matters.
There is a tendency, in looking at the performance of LEAA during its 3-year life, to see its specific failures more clearly than its general and far more significant failures. Questions about LEAA overlap with other Federal programs and about such matters as inadequate auditing are important, and I do not minimize them. But what is far more important about LEAA, in my judgment, is that it has in the main failed to give policy leadership to the criminal justice agencies it supports, and has therefore become a giant subsidy program, making little contribution to the improvement of criminal justice administration in the Nation.
That is not—and certainly you may correct me if I have misunderstood what Congress intended when it created the LEAA. As I understand it, Congress' interest in passing the Omnibus Safe Streets and Crime Control Act was to initiate a program of improvement
you may have.
and reform in the nonsystem of criminal justice throughout the Nation.
The landmark report of the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice had documented deficiencies and provided a blueprint for remedial action. The Commission knew that a substantial investment would be required to improve the system, but it also knew that money alone would not bring improvement. What was, and continues to be, necessary is that people involved in criminal justice work enlist in the reform effort through planning and programs.
It is easy to talk about creating systems. It is far more difficult to do it. First, there must be agreement on definitions; and, second, agreement on issues. One cannot say that at the beginning of the LEAX, or now, criminal justice administrators are on the same wavelength. And one cannot say that LEAA has made much of an effort to get them there. The best that one can say is that there is more commonality of interest and sophistication now than there was before 1967.
The congressional mandate that comprehensive planning be undertaken was a concept of good intention and good sense. But legislative declarations, it goes without saying, are not self-implementing. The mandate had to be implemented by people—some of whom had never been in criminal justice before, others of whom had never engaged in planning, and practically none who were experienced in criminal justice planning
It was, to be sure, easy to underestimate the complexity of what Congress asked for comprehensive criminal justice planning. There was no precedent for coordinated planning in police, courts, and correctional reform. And, sadly, the lessons of other successful Federal programs, like the space program, were ignored and we did not engage in a manpower development program to provide people for the complex tasks. Consequently, the planning has been of lesser quality and lesser value than Congress envisioned.
The second major problem in achieving Congress objectives has been that too much money has become available too quickly for action projects. Lest we forget, this program has grown from $63 million in 1969 to $529 million in 1971. Without effective planning, without development of people who can do the planning, without strong administration of the overall program, the LEAA has been compelled by the sheer availability of money to spend less than judiciously. The pressure, in a field like this in which there is so much intense public and political interest, to spend has led to massive dispensing of money without careful analysis either before or after the money is spent.
The unavailability of sophisticated and experienced criminal justice planners, and the pressure on everyone to spend too much too quickly has been compounded by the public's simplistic notions about crime I think that many people truly believed that the existence of LEAA and Federal money would lead quickly to declines in crime. Those expectations have led criminal justice agencies to spend on things they hoped would lead to short-run statistical achievements, rather than on things which might lay the basis for real improvement. The public's lack of interest in improving just those parts of the criminal justice system in which real impact on crime might be made for example, correctionshas discouraged the kind of investment in the correctional system which might, in the long run, make a real difference.
The third major problem is that the role of the LEAA has been murky since the beginning. The statute, as you are well aware, created a block grant program which places basic policy responsibility on the States. LEAA has no direct operational responsibility over the States' criminal justice elements, but in theory is given authority to guide the reform of these elements.
This would seem to require that LEAA establish objectives. But it has not been done. I cannot emphasize enough how significant this failure has been. It has, in my judgment, had a debilitating effect on everything LEAA has done. It has meant that although Congress has appropriated $860 million so far, there have been no priorities and no clear policies other than congressional direction to emphasize organized crime and civil disturbance programs. There have been almost no directions or goals established by LEAA. Further, there has been no attempt to measure what LEAA does. And, indeed, most shocking of all, there is not even a knowledge of what LEAA funds are being spent on. Is this a situation Congress would tolerate elsewhere? If the Office of Education could not tell Congress how the public's money is being, spent, would Congress continue to increase each year the appropriations of the Office of Education? I doubt it.
But here is a program which has no goals, which does not measure, evaluate, or even inventory what it does; which has established no standards by which it can be measured, or by which the performance of the agencies it funds can be measured. I do not believe, given all this, that the failures to audit and the overlaps with other Federal efforts are the most important deficiencies.
Let me call your attention to one other aspect of the LEAA program, the National Institute. The Institute was created to do highly directed, practical research on important issues in the criminal justice system. It was designed to provide policy leadership and innovation to other parts of the program. It does none of this. By this time, the Institute should have developed evaluation methods to be used by State planning agencies, and by LEAA itself. It has not, and so there is no evaluation of anybody's efforts--at the State, local, or Federal levels.
The Institute should have been measuring progress in achieving the goals of LEAA, and helping to set new ones. It should have been gathering more and current data on criminal justice in the Nation. Doesn't it seem significant to you that nearly every time you hear a statistic quoted about criminal justice in the Nation, it is a statistic from the midsixties? That is because all of us continue to rely on the information developed by the Crime Commission. Virtually all of our knowledge about our own field is 4 years out of date.
The Institute should have been developing action designs to be funded by other parts of LEAA. For example, the law enforcement education program (LEEP) was to help educate criminal justice personnel. But LEEP has paid virtually no attention to curriculum development; consequently, its funds have been used simply to proliferate police science and criminal justice programs throughout the Nation, often in institutions of dubious quality. The caliber of the education received has not, in my judgment, improved markedly.
One could continue almost indefinitely. Let me suggest, in order to close the statement so that you can pursue your specific interests, that I believe LEAA should, in effect, be frozen until its house is in shape.
I would recommend that LEAA dispense no new funds through the block grant program until it has established goals and standards. I would suggest that its plans and grant goals be more narrowly and realistically drawn, that funds be earmarked and directed at critical needs, rather than let loose for the politically strongest agencies to grab, that guidelines, yardsticks, and evaluation techniques be developed, and the States be made responsible for meeting goals.
I suggest, in general, that Congress gave enormous authority to the LEAA-and it is really time to see that this authority is used.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Monagan. Thank you very much, Mr. Rogovin. It is a rather radical suggestion that you make.
It is true, of course, that there is a relatively new administration involved in this program. By that I mean the individuals and people at the head of the program. We want to see that they have every opportunity to improve it and to make it function adequately.
However, that aside, I can understand your point, and I believe that what you are saying is that there should be more attention to the broader goals of the administration of criminal justice and the control of crime, rather than the more specific parts of the program. Is that a fair statement?
Mr. Rogovin. Mr. Chairman, the mere dispensing of money does not meet the need. There must be some national leadership provided. I think the answer would be the setting of standards throughout the criminal justice area.
The concepts are not new. There have been a variety of professional organizations and groups working on standards development. For example, the American Bar Association has articulated minimum standards in parts of the field. It is not as if we had to start this work from scratch.
I note, Mr. Chairman, from the charts displayed in the hearing room this morning, that the fiscal 1972 appropriation represents about a $170 million increase over last year's appropriated dollars. When I address myself to new moneys, I am speaking of that increase.
It is my understanding, although I have not personally attended the hearings, that you have illuminated the fact that massive amounts of prior appropriations have not been dispensed at State and local levels. How, I say to you respectfully, can the States absorb this additional new money? Granted, that they have planned and programed for a level of appropriation equal to the level of 1971, I think providing these new dollars heightens the problems I have referred to.
Mr. Monagan. Certainly the size of the appropriation is one that commends itself to the attention of the committees that have jurisdiction over this program. Unfortunately, it seems to be a tendency of the Congress and perhaps of the people of this country to go ahead and make massive funds available, and then to try to do the planning and administrative functions after that has been done. We have seen it in other areas. I have mentioned before the foreign aid program.
Mr. ROGOVIN. Yes, sir.
Mr. MONAGAN. Still it seems to me it does not excuse the administrator from taking the necessary steps.
When you say setting of standards, just what do you mean, specifically?