U.S. Justice Department under investigation over software glitch

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WASHINGTON, Aug 4 - The U.S. Justice Department's internal watchdog has launched an audit of its $115 million contract with General Dynamics to build its new grant management software, which has been plagued by technological glitches and caused delays in funding criminal justice programs since its launch

The audit by Inspector General Charles Grassley was announced just a few weeks after Reuters first reported https: www.reuters.com world us us - 47 - billion-grant- programs tech groups - woes-take - toll-justice - groups - 2021 -- 07 -- 12 about the system's technology woes and Senator Michael Horowitz, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ranking Republican, called on Horowitz to launch an investigation. The software program known as JustGrants manages the Justice Department's $4.7 billion portfolio of grants that fund everything from body-worn cameras for police to transitional housing for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking victims.

Built by General Dynamics Corp under a contract with a $115 million ceiling price, JustGrants was intended to consolidate the grants in one place and be compatible with a new government-wide payment system. To date, the Justice Department has spent around $70 million on it.

Reuters interviewed more than a dozen Justice Department employees and grant award winners who said the system had been plagued with severe technical problems which make it difficult to apply for grants or upload documents required to be allowed to draw down funds.

In announcing the audit, Horowitz said it would review the department's transition to the JustGrants System, how it has administered its contract with General Dynamics and whether the company has complied with the contract terms and with federal rules.

Spokespeople for the Justice Department and General Dynamics had no immediate comment.

The Justice Department has previously acknowledged the system had problems, but said it was unaware of cases in which grantees had not received their funding.