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Federal audit lays out recommendations for Montana crime victim support program

Posted at 5:00 AM, Jun 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-20 20:46:46-04

HELENA – A federal agency says a Montana program that provides grants to crime victims is generally operating well, but they made some suggestions on how it could perform better.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General completed an audit into Montana’s Crime Victim Compensation Program. The program is operated by the state Office of Victim Services, part of the Montana Department of Justice.

The program compensates victims for things like medical expenses and lost wages due to injuries from a crime. Between October 2013 and September 2017, it paid out more than $4.6 million to crime victims, from a combination of federal and state money and restitution payments.

The audit looked at just under $1.5 million in grants, which came from the federal Office of Justice Programs. It found the program was getting the money to crime victims as it should, but it identified several areas where the service could be improved. It said just over $6,100 in paid claims and personnel spending did not include enough supporting documentation, and that an error on one form meant the state received $176,000 less than it could have.

The audit laid out nine recommendations for the program. They included developing additional policies to ensure all forms are complete and accurate, and that all needed documentation is provided.

The report included a response from the Montana Department of Justice, accepting the recommendations. Department spokesman John Barnes told MTN Wednesday that the Office of Victim Services had either already implemented or made a plan to quickly implement each of the changes.

“The U.S. Department of Justice recognized that Montana has a robust program that substantively helps many crime victims in need,” Barnes said in a statement. “They also made recommendations on fine-tuning the management of the program to further ensure delivery of needed services. The Crime Victim Compensation Program welcomes feedback through these required periodic audits.”

Story by Jonathon Ambarian, MTN News