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  • Violence Against Women Bill Fails to Address Fraud

    The Senate is poised to consider S. 1925 this week, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Despite the law’s good intentions, more recent reauthorizations—including the bill before the Senate—are seriously flawed and veer away from the legislation’s original goals of protecting vulnerable women.

    As Heritage research fellow David Muhlhausen and Independent Women’s Forum visiting fellow Christina Villegas explain in a recent Heritage Backgrounder, the problems with S. 1925 are significant. In addition to broadening the classes of covered victims to include men and prisoners and expanding existing, duplicative programs, S. 1925 fails to rectify VAWA’s inadequate accountability measures—while increasing direct spending by more than $100 million.

    As recent investigations by the Department of Justice (DOJ) have revealed, disturbing instances of fraud and embezzlement of some Office on Violence Against Women grants have marred the original law’s intentions. For instance:

    • On March 27, a mother and daughter were sentenced after a DOJ investigation revealed that the pair had embezzled almost $160,000 in federal grant funds. The two women had worked at an American Samoa nonprofit that received more than $1.2 million in federal grant funds from the Office of Violence Against Women and Legal Services Corporation over a two-year period to offer legal aid to victims of domestic violence and other abuse.
    • A March 2012 report following a DOJ investigation of the Virgin Islands Law Enforcement Planning Commission found that nearly $1 million in federal funds provided by the Office on Violence Against Women were questionably used.
    • A separate March 2012 DOJ audit of the Couer d’Alene Native American tribe reported “internal control weakness” and “unallowable grant expenditures,” including more than $171,000 in compensation for an unauthorized employee.

    As Muhlhausen and Villegas explain, existing VAWA programs should be adequately evaluated rather than expanded:

    Nationally representative, scientifically rigorous impact evaluations should be used to determine whether these national grant programs actually produce their intended effects. Obviously, there is little merit in the continuation of programs that fail to ameliorate the social problems they target.

    Unfortunately, the bill before the Senate does not address VAWA’s lack of accountability. Instead, it expands the scope of the law and already existing programs, handing more power over violence reduction efforts to the federal government.

    “Using federal agencies and grant programs to fund the routine operations of domestic violence programs that state and local governments themselves could provide is a misuse of federal resources and a distraction from concerns that truly are the province of the federal government,” Muhlhausen and Villegas explain. “Simply expanding the VAWA framework with extensive new provisions and programs that have been inadequately assessed is sure to facilitate waste, fraud, and abuse and will not better protect women or victims of violence generally.”

    No one questions the need to support and defend all victims of violence, especially women. Nor does anyone doubt the sincere goals of the original Violence Against Women Act. But good intentions alone cannot fix the substantive problems with the VAWA reauthorization and will not bring the most effective, efficient protection to vulnerable women. Congress should demand better evaluations of existing VAWA programs, reduce program duplication, and recognize that state and local governments are better suited to address violent crimes.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Violence Against Women Bill Fails to Address Fraud

    1. skip1515 says:

      As I understand it, the most recent funding for VAWA was 649.36 million dollars. If the worst examples of "potential" fraud that you can cite ("potential" because 2 of your examples are not proven as fraud per your own citations) total only $1,331,000 , or .2% of the entire funding, then you have no claim to complain about fraud or waste. If our entire government operated as efficiently as you "complain" VAWA does, we'd all be thrilled.

      • Bobbie says:

        only 1331,000! ONLY? WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM? Fraud is fraud and it's belittling to be coming from government abuse who sets everything up that enables fraud!!!!! Violence against women is better handled by private charities who doesn't enable fraud nor cost the tax payers a DIME!

    2. Love Women Children says:

      You. Worried about LIARS? That is too funny. I am sure you are really worried about the fraud. You just want your lock steppers to be able to beat on their women and children freely and into submission. Just where your kind like it! Sickos!

      • Bobbie says:

        Love women and children do you? I bet you do, pervert! any government controlled entity is the danger where private charities are safe from government influence and idiotic rules and regulations and stand on their own without scamming the tax payers, sicko!

      • Kratch says:

        I'm curious, how does making organizations funded by the government accountable for how that funding is spent allow for "lock stepper to be able to beat on their women and children freely and into submission"? I'm also curious, given your clear hostility for daring to speak against the sexist VAWA, why is it you want your lock steppers to be able to beat on their men and children freely and into submission? Or are you one of those ideologues that believe women don't harm anyone and can only be victims, not perpetrators? Are you aware that, in at least 3 states, VAWA STOP funding is actually denied to any program that focuses exclusively on children?

    3. Bobbie says:

      Protection for women is protection for women. Why are there programs singling women out by race? It only invites corruption and denies assimilation! Have us all under one and make sure it isn't a set up!

    4. Patti says:

      "Women" are not a "race."

    5. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      What a surprise…another federal program befallen by waste, fraud and abuse. After these programs are enacted and have sunk their roots into the fabric of society, crowding out private and local government programs, politicians only debate who can better run them. Does anyone ever propose repealing them? That is a sure-fire way to end waste, fraud and abuse. Even if someone could argue some Constitutional basis for this program, could the states not more efficiently operate it?

    6. Kratch says:

      "No one questions the need to support and defend all victims of violence, especially women."

      I'm generally supportive of your argument, but I need to ask, why "especially women"? I can see and understand "especially children", but why are women especially in need of more support and protection than even children? Or was this just a reflexive pandering to the left, as they somehow manage to instil in virtually everyone with such baseless and emotional ad hominum attacks such as seen in these comments already?

    7. Simonstar says:

      These cases of fraud need to be addressed, because if people were to focus on the negative side of act, some opposition might soon want it to go down.

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