Legislative Analyst's Office

Analysis of the 2001-02 Budget Bill

Office of Criminal Justice Planning (8100)

The Office of Criminal Justice Planning (OCJP) provides financial and technical assistance to state agencies, local governments, and the private sector for criminal justice programs such as crime prevention, victim and witness services, law enforcement, and juvenile justice. The OCJP has primary responsibility for the administration of federal criminal justice and victims' grant programs, and acts as the grant agency for providing state-administered local assistance.

The budget proposes total expenditures of $319 million for OCJP in 2001-02, including $128 million from the General Fund. The total budget reflects a net decrease of $71.2 million, or about 18 percent, below estimated current-year expenditures. This decrease reflects a baseline reduction of $96 million for a one-time grant in the current year for a crime lab in Los Angeles. Despite this overall decrease, the budget proposes two significant new local assistance programs—$40 million to establish the War on Methamphetamine and $30 million for grants to local crime labs. The budget also proposes an $11 million expansion in the High Technology Theft Apprehension and Prosecution Program. We discuss each of these proposals in more detail below.

Expansion of State Role in Antimethamphetamine Efforts Not Justified

We recommend that the Legislature delete $40 million requested to establish the War on Methamphetamine program because (1) the state has already made a major commitment of resources to this area through the Department of Justice's California Methamphetamine Strategy, (2) the Office of Criminal Justice Planning has not provided sufficient information to assess this proposal, including a clear basis for distributing funds, and (3) federal funds are available for this purpose, and the state has made funds available through the Citizen's Option for Public Safety and high technology equipment programs that could be used for this purpose. (Reduce Item 8100-001-0001 by $40 million.)

Background. California state government has taken a number of steps to combat methamphetamine production and trafficking. For example, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has established the California Methamphetamine Strategy (CALMS) which is run by the department's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement. This effort has been largely federally-funded, but in the budget year, the administration proposes to permanently shift the positions created in CALMS to the General Fund. Agents assigned to CALMS perform a variety of tasks, many of which involve assistance to local law enforcement agencies. (For a more detailed description of CALMS, see the "Department of Justice" section in this chapter).

In addition, the 1999-00 Budget Act appropriated $300,000 to OCJP to fund administrative support for the Central Valley Methamphetamine Task Force. The OCJP supported this task force in order to further its designation as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) by the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy. Designation as a HIDTA makes the task force eligible to receive additional federal funds and resources for its drug enforcement activities. The HIDTA area consists of Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare Counties. During the 2001 federal fiscal year (FFY) (October 2000 through September 2001), the Central Valley HIDTA is expected to receive $1.5 million in federal funds to combat methamphetamine trafficking.

Budget Proposal. The Governor's budget proposes $40 million from the General Fund to establish the War on Methamphetamine program within OCJP. These funds would provide local assistance grants to local law enforcement agencies, primarily within the Central Valley HIDTA. The proposal earmarks $25 million for noncompetitive grants for a variety of one-time costs including equipment purchase, training, and leasing of office space. The other $15 million would be for annual noncompetitive grants to establish and expand multijurisdictional task forces that will investigate and prosecute methamphetamine-related crime.

Antimethamphetamine Proposal Lacks Sufficient Detail. During our review of this proposal, OCJP was unable to provide an assessment of task force funding requirements that would provide a basis for the $40 million request. For example, the proposal does not provide any justification, breakdown, or detail on the $25 million in proposed one-time funding for training, equipment, and leasing of office space. Moreover, the proposal fails to describe the basis for allocating these funds. Similarly, the proposal indicates the $15 million in ongoing funding is intended to establish and expand multijurisdictional task forces. Yet there is no detail on categories of expenditures, funding priorities (for example, sworn personnel, prosecutorial staff, administrative costs), or allocation criteria.

Finally, the proposal suggests OCJP would use a noncompetitive allocation process based on criteria that emphasize need and the existing HIDTA strategy. There is little information, however, on how need would be determined, nor is it clear whether each agency's allocation would vary from year-to-year. In the absence of this information, the Legislature cannot determine if the requested resources will be targeted effectively. In addition, if the funding allocations vary from year-to-year, this could cause problems for local agencies. This is because agencies which may wish to use these funds for personnel will be reluctant to do so without an ongoing funding commitment. Based on these considerations, we conclude that this proposal is not sufficiently detailed to allow the Legislature to assess its costs and benefits.

State and Federal Resources are Already Available to Local Agencies to Fight Methamphetamine. As previously mentioned, DOJ is engaged in a major effort to combat trafficking in methamphetamine. The CALMS program involves 84 sworn DOJ personnel, and 59 support personnel throughout the state. Currently two CALMS teams are assigned to the Central Valley with 13 special agents and 6 forensic support personnel. These personnel work in tandem with local law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute methamphetamine crimes, and eradicate clandestine methamphetamine labs. In addition, the state provided $300,000 in funding to the Central Valley Methamphetamine Task Force to facilitate its designation as a HIDTA. The state funded this designation with the expectation that it would lead to increased federal funding for the Central Valley's campaign against methamphetamine production and distribution.

The task force received its HIDTA designation in 1999, and the area received $800,000 from the federal government. In the federal fiscal year 2000 (October 1999-September 2000), the Central Valley HIDTA received $1.5 million, and is expected to receive the same amount in FFY 2001. While this represents a fairly modest infusion of resources, historical experience with other HIDTAs indicates that funding tends to grow a few years after the initial designation. For example, the average HIDTA budget is $6.3 million. Of those HIDTAs established prior to 1999, the average budget is $7.3 million. Based on these figures, we believe that the agencies involved in the Central Valley HIDTA should be able to successfully pursue additional federal resources.

In addition to the HIDTA resources, the 2001 Appropriations Bill for the U.S. Department of Justice includes $48.5 million nationwide for the federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office for methamphetamine-related state and local law enforcement activities. The conference agreement adopted by the House and Senate specifically instructs the federal COPS office to consider requests from Merced County (one of the counties funded under the Governor's proposal) and provide a grant if warranted.

Added to these methamphetamine-specific resources, local law enforcement agencies also have access to discretionary state funds for equipment and personnel through a number of state initiatives. The Citizens' Option for Public Safety (COPS) program provides $121.3 million annually for front line law enforcement, district attorneys, and jails. The law enforcement agencies in the HIDTA receive a total of $15.1 million from this program. In addition, in both the current and the budget years, the budget includes $75 million for law enforcement equipment purchases, which is allocated so that each jurisdiction receives a minimum grant of $100,000, plus a per capita based distribution. The law enforcement agencies in the HIDTA counties will receive a total of $19.4 million in the current and budget years for equipment. Both of these local assistance funding sources can be used to support the activities of the Central Valley multijurisdictional task forces.

Recommendation. Given the significant commitment to methamphetamine enforcement already in place through DOJ, the significant discretionary public safety resources available to local governments through the state COPS program, and the high technology equipment grants, further expenditure of funds in this area seems unwarranted. Local law enforcement strategies and priorities should be set locally, with the state providing the kind of intelligence, investigatory, and prosecutorial assistance currently available through CALMS. As a result, we recommend that the proposal be deleted for a General Fund savings of $40 million.

More Information Needed on Local Forensic Laboratory Improvement Program

We recommend that the Legislature take no budget action on the local forensic laboratory program until the Office of Criminal Justice Planning provides more detailed information on how the competitive grant funds would be distributed and what kinds of projects could be funded. In addition, if the Legislature approves these funds, we recommend that it require competitive grants and incorporate any future funding for capital outlay grants into the state's capital outlay planning process.

Background. There are currently 19 forensic laboratories operated by local law enforcement agencies in California. These labs serve approximately 77 percent of the state's population. Chapter 931, Statutes of 1997 (AB 920, Davis) required the Bureau of State Audits (BSA) to examine the condition of these laboratories, and determine what resources were necessary for them to obtain accreditation from the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB). The BSA report concluded that the 14 crime labs which did not meet the ASCLD/LAB standards would require $221 million in construction money to meet the accreditation standards for square footage. In response to this finding, the Legislature placed a $220 million bond act on the March 2000 primary election ballot, which was defeated by the voters. With bond funds unavailable, the 2000-01 Budget Act included $96 million in OCJP's local assistance budget to build a new crime lab to serve the Los Angeles Police and County Sheriff Departments.

Budget Proposal. The Governor's budget proposes $30 million from the General Fund for OCJP grants to local governments to improve their forensic laboratories. All local labs, except for the two Los Angeles labs, would be eligible for the funds. Funds would be available in undesignated amounts for any of the following purposes: (1) construction and renovation, (2) purchase of new equipment, and (3) replacement or upgrade of existing equipment.

Criteria for Awarding Grants Are Not Sufficiently Developed. The budget proposal describes the distribution scheme for these grants as "a competitive basis based on demonstrated need." In response to our request for additional information, OCJP indicated a portion of the funds would be distributed to all 17 of the eligible labs, each of which would receive some unspecified amount. The remainder would be distributed based upon demonstrated need, crime rate, and population served. Rather than emphasizing competitive based grants, the proposal appears to be based on a formula award process with a minimum guarantee. In either case OCJP has not provided sufficient information on the specific allocation method and criteria that will be used to award these grant funds for our office to recommend approval. In the event the Legislature approves the funds, we recommend it require OCJP to establish a competitive grant program that will fund the proposals with the most merit, rather than distribute an amount to all labs that is insufficient to meet any of their needs.

Incorporate Future Funding for Local Labs Into the State's Existing Capital Outlay Planning and Budgeting Process. The recent passage of Chapter 606, Statutes of 1999 (AB2473, Hertzberg) emphasized the Legislature's intent that the state establish and annually update a five-year plan for identifying and establishing priorities for all state infrastructure needs including capital outlay. This process starts with the 2002-03 budget. If the Legislature wishes to fund capital needs, as opposed to equipment, for local forensic laboratories beyond the budget year, it is important that any permanent process developed by OCJP be conducted within the context of the process set forth in Chapter 606.

Summary. It is not possible to adequately assess the merits of this proposal without more detailed information on the method and criteria for awarding the proposed grants. As a result, we recommend that the Legislature take no action until OCJP provides more detailed information on this proposal. In addition, we recommend that in the event the Legislature approves these funds, it employ a competitive grant process and incorporate any future funding for local lab construction into the state's existing capital outlay planning process pursuant to Chapter 606.

High Technology Crime Program Expansion Not Justified

We recommend that the Legislature reduce the proposed augmentation of the High Technology Theft Apprehension and Prosecution Program by $6.9 million because current baseline expenditures are sufficient to encourage and enhance local efforts in this area. In addition, we recommend approval of $750,000 for the development of a high technology crime training course for law enforcement because it would be cost efficient to do so. (Reduce Item 8100-101-0001 by $6.9 million.)

Background. Chapter 906, Statutes of 1997 (SB 438, Johnston) established the High Technology Theft Apprehension and Prosecution Program (HTTAP) to support regional task forces dedicated to the investigation and prosecution of high technology crimes. In addition, Chapter 906 established a steering committee, which ultimately became the High Technology Crime Advisory Committee (HTCAC). This committee has members from 15 organizations representing law enforcement and the high technology industry who oversee the HTTAP program. The 1998-99 Budget Act appropriated $1.25 million to OCJP to fund the program. These initial funds were used to support three regional High Technology Task Forces (HTTF) covering the Sacramento Valley, the Silicon Valley, and the Los Angeles/Orange County area, and to establish a high technology crime database at the DOJ. The 1999-00 Budget Act further provided $4.9 million to add two additional task forces covering the San Diego/Riverside/Imperial Valley area, and the North Bay (Marin). In 2000-01 the program was funded at $5.3 million, with $3.2 million from the General Fund and $2.1 million in federal funds.

Budget Proposal. The Governor's budget proposes a $7.6 million increase for HTTAP which would result in a total program appropriation of $12.9 million. The additional money would be used to (1) provide each of the five HTTFs with $2 million in annual funding (currently they receive $800,000 to $1.2 million depending on their circumstances), (2) develop training for computer crime and computer forensics, and (3) establish an exempt position at OCJP to provide statewide oversight and coordination.

We have the following two concerns with the this proposal.

No Justification for Further State Involvement in Local Law Enforcement Activity. This proposal significantly expands the state's role in the HTTAP program beyond what was originally envisioned. The HTTAP program was designed to enhance and assist local agencies in their efforts to meet the new and growing challenges posed by high technology crime. It has succeeded in establishing the five HTTFs, and supports local agency efforts to dedicate personnel to this crime area. Now that this infrastructure is in place, it is the responsibility of local governments, rather than the state, to identify and target resources to meet the demands of high technology crime. This proposal would inappropriately expand the state's role in funding these local priorities.

Lack of Financial Support From Program Beneficiaries. There has been a lack of willingness on the part of private industry to financially support this activity. When the HTTAP program was established it was assumed that private industry would support the program because it was directly experiencing many of the costs of high technology crime. As a result, a HTTAP Trust Fund (HTTAPTF) was created to make it easier to solicit and use donations from private industry to support these programs. It was assumed that if industry considered this program to be a valuable resource it would be willing to contribute to its expansion. To date, however, no industry contributions have been made to the HTTAPTF. If the HTTAP program is effective in reducing high technology crime, then OCJP and the HTCAC should be able to solicit additional funds from the high technology industry to expand the program.

Training and Database Support Are Important State Contributions. For its part, the state will continue to provide important intelligence support through the high technology crime database. Training is another legitimate state activity in this area, and it is most efficient for it to be developed centrally. As a result, we recommend that the Legislature approve the $750,000 proposed to develop a training regimen on computer crime. We further recommend that the Legislature deny the request for the exempt position at OCJP, as the current HTCAC structure, which includes an OCJP representative, is sufficient to provide coordination and oversight for high technology crime.

Recommendation. We recommend that the Legislature approve $5.3 million for HTTAP's ongoing budget and an increase of $750,000 for the cost of developing a computer crime training regimen, and reduce the proposed funding expansion by $6.9 million.

State Funding for High Technology Identity Theft Efforts Should Be Directed to Areas of State Expertise

We recommend the Legislature reduce the High Technology Identity Theft program by $2.8 million and approve $500,000 for the development of a training course for law enforcement on identity theft issues because local agencies already receive grants to combat high technology crime, and can use those funds for identity theft if it is a local priority. (Reduce 8100-101-0001 by $2.8 million.)

Budget Proposal. The Governor's budget proposes to spend $3.3 million from the General Fund to establish a program to combat high technology identity theft in California. The money would be used for the following three efforts:

Concerns with Proposal. We have the following three concerns with this proposal. First, it seems counterproductive for the state to try to determine local priorities for fighting technology crime by earmarking funds for particular technology crimes like identity theft. Now that the five HTTFs are operational, and receive annual state funding to support their efforts, they are in the best position to determine their own law enforcement priorities. The state can effectively assist local governments as they address identity theft by providing appropriate training.

Second, the state provides $121.3 million in discretionary funds for local law enforcement through the state COPS program, much of which could be used to fight high technology identity theft if that is a local law enforcement priority. Third, the HTTFs have the ability to use their existing HTTAP funding from the state to concentrate on identity theft if they believe it is a high priority. Finally, if the Legislature decides the state needs additional resources to assist local governments with these investigations and prosecutions, we believe it would be more appropriate for DOJ, rather than OCJP, to develop a proposal for this purpose, given DOJ's history and expertise in this area.

Training Component Justified. We recommend that the Legislature provide additional funding to OCJP for the identity theft training component only. Law enforcement training currently receives significant state funding, and development of new training programs is most efficient if done on a statewide basis.

Recommendation. We recommend that the Legislature reduce the HiT-IT proposal by $2.9 million and approve $500,000 for the law enforcement training component.

Criminal Justice Information Clearinghouse Duplicates Similar Effort in DOJ

We recommend that the Legislature delete $106,000 proposed to establish a Criminal Justice Information Clearinghouse, because it duplicates a more effective proposal in the Department of Justice budget. (Reduce Item 8100-001-0001 by $106,000.)

Budget Proposal. The Governor's budget proposes a $106,000 General Fund expenditure and one librarian position to establish a Criminal Justice Information Clearinghouse within OCJP. This office would be responsible for gathering and disseminating information relevant to public safety and victim services to other state and local agencies and to the public. Its information focus would be to aid existing local assistance programs and grantees which provide domestic violence, juvenile justice, child abuse, and victims services.

The DOJ Proposal More Likely to Produce Desired Results. Criminal justice programs in California would benefit from the creation of an office that could collect and disseminate the latest research and information on promising and tested approaches to criminal justice issues. In our recent report, Crime Prevention in California: Building Successful Programs, we recommended that the state establish a crime prevention office that would have this role as one of its responsibilities. In addition to the OCJP proposal, the DOJ budget contains a similar proposal that appears more likely to meet the key objectives for a state criminal justice clearinghouse.

We recognize OCJP has some natural advantages in acquiring information that identifies effective criminal justice programs. This is because of its contacts with the local agencies and community-based organizations to whom it distributes grant funds. Nevertheless, the DOJ proposal has a number of other key advantages making it preferable to the OCJP initiative. First, DOJ proposes to expand an existing Community Policing Clearinghouse that it has been operating since 1998 in partnership with the Sacramento Police Department's Regional Community Policing Institute. The experience and infrastructure developed from this program would provide a stronger foundation for expansion to cover a wider array of criminal justice topics.

Second, DOJ currently houses and analyzes all of the state's crime data, and publishes the most comprehensive reports on crime in California through its Criminal Justice Statistics Center (CJSC). Coordination between the CJSC and the proposed information clearinghouse would amplify the value of this resource to the public and other governmental agencies. Finally, the proposal submitted by DOJ has a more realistic commitment of resources (DOJ proposes adding 4.5 positions to establish its clearinghouse, while OCJP proposes only 1 position) and clearer goals and objectives than the OCJP proposal.

One Centralized Clearinghouse Would Avoid Fragmentation. The OCJP and DOJ have emphasized different kinds of criminal justice topics in describing their proposed clearinghouses. The OCJP refers to public safety and victims services and DOJ to crime prevention and community policing. However, the kinds of tasks that each department proposes to undertake are very similar, such as identifying best practices, gathering relevant research, and identifying funding resources for local governments and community-based organizations. Given this similarity, it seems likely that establishment of two offices would result in significant duplication of effort. Because of the relative advantages of the DOJ proposal, we recommend deleting the $106,000 proposed for the OCJP clearinghouse.

Return to Criminal Justice Table of Contents, 2001-02 Budget Analysis