Federal Bureau of Prisons:

BOP Has Mechanisms in Place to Address Most Second Chance Act Requirements and Is Working to Implement an Initiative Designed to Reduce Recidivism

GAO-10-854R: Published: Jul 14, 2010. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 2010.

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This letter formally transmits the briefing in response to the Conference Report accompanying the Fiscal Year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. Rep. No. 111-366, at 673-74 (2009) (Conf. Rep)), which directed us to evaluate BOP's strategic approach to budgeting for its inmate re-entry programs, including activities related to the Second Chance Act (SCA). To conduct this work, we analyzed the Federal Bureau of Prison's (BOP) programs, activities, and management initiatives that play a key role in implementing SCA requirements, such as the Inmate Skills Development Initiative (ISDI). Through ISDI, BOP intends to measure skills inmates acquired through effective reentry programs with the goal of reducing rates of recidivism. We also evaluated BOP's processes and initiatives that play a key role in implementing SCA, such as ISDI, to determine the extent to which BOP followed leading practices for planning, implementing, and identifying resources needed for projects.

BOP has mechanisms in place to address most SCA requirements and is working to implement ISDI to meet the remaining requirements, estimated to be complete in 2014 at the earliest. However, BOP has not fully applied leading program management practices to its efforts to implement ISDI, an initiative which could strengthen BOP's ability to facilitate the successful re-entry of inmates into their communities by addressing inmate skills gaps. Specifically, BOP has not fully developed a detailed ISDI implementation plan, including a comprehensive cost estimate. BOP officials stated that they have not fully developed a detailed ISDI implementation plan, including a cost estimate, because key decisions that would affect the project plan and schedule are pending. Until BOP develops an implementation plan and cost estimate, it may be difficult to assess BOP's progress towards realizing ISDI and identify ISDI's impact on the successful reentry of inmates into their communities. Thus, we are recommending that BOP establish a plan for the remaining steps needed to implement SCA requirements, specifically ISDI, and develop a comprehensive cost estimate for the remaining ISDI requirements that should include costs associated with data validation and program evaluation, among others.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Attorney General of the United states should direct the BOP Director to establish a plan for the remaining steps needed to implement ISDI that describes the key tasks necessary for its implementation, assigns responsibility for these tasks, and establishes time lines for implementation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On June 19, 2012, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) provided GAO with a copy of its implementation plan for the Inmate Skills Development Initiative (ISDI), which describes 23 objectives, including those related to research and evaluation, skill assessments and training, and coordination of various initiatives across the agency. For each objective, the plan includes comprehensive cost and schedule information, such as timelines and estimates of man hours and cost, and assigns responsibilities to specific staff and offices. The plan is consistent with our recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General of the United states should direct the BOP Director to develop a comprehensive cost estimate for the remaining ISDI requirements that, at a minimum, should include costs associated with data validation, training, program evaluations, development, and implementation, among other key activities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On June 19, 2012, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) provided GAO with a copy of its implementation plan for the Inmate Skills Development Initiative (ISDI), which describes 23 objectives, including those related to research and evaluation, skill assessments and training, and coordination of various initiatives across the agency. For each objective, the plan includes comprehensive cost and schedule information, such as timelines and estimates of man hours and cost, and assigns responsibilities to specific staff and offices. The plan is consistent with our recommendation.

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