This is a look at a side of Congress which no one follows, and one which every taxpayer in the nation should be very concerned about. How Congress spends and accounts for the hard earned bucks of taxpayers. Does Congress give a hoot about the grants they appropriate within laws they make?
Some lawmaker gets an idea for a law, they present a bill with what they want the bill to accomplish, grants are inserted within the bill, then somewhere in the bowels of Congress are number crunching people who calculate what this bill will cost to implement. The number crunchers put dollars to the grants within the proposed bill, before the bill is returned for a vote and ultimately passed into law. I'm quite sure it is the Congressional Budget Office that does this work.
So this expose starts after a proposed bill becomes a law, and this one is about the Adam Walsh Act. Begin, lawmakers know those budgeted grant figures are not precise, they are subject to change no doubt, but is there any accounting for the proposed grant numbers? After all a proposed bill requesting $100,000 to change a Post Office name, may be OK, but after that bill becomes law, can that grant be extended and where should it stop, 1 million 2 million etc., what is the reasonable number and who puts the brakes on?
This expose is a ride you will not want to miss. Congress has been caught with their, err... lets say, redfaced, and I'm not sure they want this known. Stick with me there are several facts you must know to see what has happened.
Recently the House Judiciary Committee held an informational hearing to determine, why all States, have not, converted state sex offender registries to the Federal Adam Walsh Act (AWA) way?
The hearing focused on the testimony of four people invited by the Committee, none of which represented the interests of registrants, to at least explain the massive problems SORNA will, and in some cases, are causing. There were registrant representatives present, and some had previously requested to give testimony, but were denied.
The Chair of the Committee LIMITED each Judiciary Panel Members' testimony to five minutes, rudely cutting them off if they went over that time. However, the Chair did allow the four folks -invited to testify- to go well over any five minute limit, thereby making it clear who he wanted, or didn't want, to hear from.
The hearing barely touched on costs, merely mentioning that some states did request funding and others did not. No one dug into this aspect of AWA, not even Chairman Sensenbrenner, who apparently brushed this aside, but, one of those invited to testify submitted a document titled "Addendum to Baldwin Testimony" which is available on the subcommittees' website. That Addendum showed what each state has received in AWA Funding (Grant Money), but the Addendum failed to show Tribes or that they had received any funding. In fact, the Addendum didn't even mention Tribes!That Addendum is the focus of this expose, accounting for AWA Grant money given to the States. Has Congress created a State money tree, to be picked at will, for whatever? Is there any accounting for this grant money? A whole list of questions arise. Remember, it would be nice to know, who is eating thick cut steaks while you struggle to stretch hamburg on your table, federal taxes fund AWA, never forget that!
Starting with facts from the Addendum and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's map (12-17-2010) of Registered Sex Offenders in the nation, which shows the number of registrants per state or Territory, a spreadsheet was created to look at certain facts.
In Compliant States: Starting with just the states "In Compliance" and the AWA funding they had received ($2,495,243 and their number of registrants), it was determined that the average cost to convert was $30.63 per registrant. But, the four states (Delaware, Florida, Ohio and South Dakota) actually spent ($89.58 $30.80 $12.01 $65.19) differing amounts to individually convert their registrants. From $12.01 to a high of $89.58 why such a spread, and, how did these States account for their spending of AWA Start-up Funding?
Yes, I assumed that State Grants were based on what states thought they would need to convert. At least that seems a reasonable starting point. But the individual costs per registrant was an eye opener, raising many questions.Why focus on start-up costs? Well, President Obama, in his just released 2011 budget had the following to say about the Adam Walsh Act:
Reduces Funding for Juvenile Justice and Child Safety Programs. The Budget proposes a reduction of $50 million from the 2010 enacted level for Juvenile Justice and Child Safety programs (net of reductions of $91 million to programs that were earmarked in 2010), refocusing many formula and other grants into a new $120 million Race to the Top style grant that rewards States for tangible improvements in juvenile justice systems. The Budget also provides $30 million for the Adam Walsh Act implementation and invests in new efforts such as the Attorney General’s Children Exposed to Violence Initiative ($25 million).I thought it prudent to see if AWA Funding (shown in the Addendum to Baldwin Testimony) was on target, with Obama's Budget thinking, or are we going to have to stop say, Pell Grants and whatever to everyone, to fund this iceberg? i.e., icebergs, where the real worry is hidden well below the surface, sounds like AWA.
Note: I do recognize that Obama's Budget is for 2011, and it is very likely every budget since 2006 has appropriated something for SORNA start-up costs, or AWA, lord only knows where that money has gone. Also, in Obama's stimulus plan there was money appropriated for AWA but not sure if it was for SORNA start-up costs. And, the definition of Obama's "Implementation of AWA" may conflict with my interpretation "SORNA Start-Up Costs" but that remains to be seen. AWA has five titles, SORNA is but one of them.
OK, so I had to expand my spreadsheet to "Not in Compliant States" to make any sense of this.
Not In Compliant States: First, there are 11 States and Territories which have not requested any AWA Funding, and this was mentioned during the hearing, no one knew why and it was dropped there. Alaska, Arizona, DC, Idaho, Montana, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming, America Soma, CNMI and Guam.
Using the $30.63 per registrant (Average cost spent by In Compliant States) these states -in total- need 19.8 million in AWA Funding, and they have already received 17.6 million. Now here is where things get very interesting, who didn't get what they need, and who got more than they need? 24 States still need 9.5 million and 27 states received 7.3 million too much.
Hope they are accounting for this money because a reckoning day may be coming. And, maybe Alaska can tap Arkansas, saying you got too much, how about sending some my way, I didn't get enough? That type of conversation may go round and round between, the 24 and 27 states, or Congress can ask for the overage back? Who knows what will happen?Next, for not in Compliant States, comes the average cost to convert per registrant: $178.54 based on NCMEC number of registrants and AWA Funding already received (See Baldwin Addendum). For the individual states, from $2.21 in Virginia to a high of $6,092.50 in the US Virgin Islands. They have 76 registrants, they applied for and received $463,030; unbelievable that Congress would even require them to convert. A deck of index cards and a telephone number would suffice, but Congress must have its way, and they are not in compliant yet!
This could become an encyclopedia but I must do other things, so here is the overall: 22.3 million is the projected figure if $30.63 is the allowed cost per registrant to convert. States have already received 20.1 million so that is within Obama's budget. 24 States still need 9.9 million because they have been shorted, and 27 States have received 7.6 million too much. The actual cost per registrant is going to be somewhere between $2.21 and $6,092.50. Thats the gist of this.
Ahhh, but I forgot about the claimed 100,00 missing folks (CLICK for the truth of how that number came to be), the created factoid that all appropriations and laws have been based on, why will that cost be? Well, lets just say, 1/7th of whats already been spent 3.2 million. Is all this still within Congressional Budget thinking? This year!
So, will the iceberg float to warmer waters and melt away, or will it grow and become an island under the sea, hidden from view where most of it is today? Yes, there is missing information which could change much, but one thing is for sure, the Hen-house is not protected and the Foxes are cunning, and they do not account for what they do.
Oh yes Congress, err.. SMART Office, what about the almost 200 Tribes and money needed for them?
In reality, the cry has been to protect the children, but, are the children being starved to death in the mean time, to satisfy a whim of a few in Congress? Where is the beef, errr.. accounting, and where is the brake pedal? Taxpayers want to know!