LA’s Gang Reduction Has Made Progress, But Needs Additional Oversight

To view the complete audit, please click here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     

July 27th, 2010

Follow-up to Controversial Audit Shows Significant Progress Made Yet Evaluation Contract Wasted $525,000 in Taxpayer Funds

(Los Angeles) – City Controller Wendy Greuel released a follow-up audit today on the effectiveness of the City’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) programs, which are currently overseen by the Mayor’s office. The audit found that though a lot of progress has been made, the City’s coordinated efforts lack measured oversight.  This calls into question the effectiveness of the City’s approach to keeping our communities safe and gang-free.

“Overall, I believe GRYD is on the right path and has laid a solid foundation for the future,” said City Controller Greuel. “However, it’s unacceptable that a year later GRYD and it’s contractor have wasted $525,000 in taxpayer funds and have yet to complete an evaluation of GRYD’s effectiveness.”

This audit is a follow-up to a report that the City Controller, in conjunction with The Advancement Project, released in 2008.  The Blueprint for a Comprehensive Citywide Anti-Gang Strategy showed a path forward for how the City can reclaim our streets and our children through a strategy of prevention, intervention and suppression.  In response to the Blueprint, City Controller Greuel who was serving on the City Council at the time, introduced a proposal to consolidate all Anti-Gang programs into a coordinated office, which was created in 2008. 

“While I understand that the gang problem is complex and seemingly intractable, there is more to be done,” said City Controller Greuel.  “We cannot let another day go by, and another child slide by without doing everything we can to rid our City of the plague of gang violence.” 

Overall the audit found that 52% of the original 109 audit recommendations have either been implemented or are no longer relevant.  Additionally 47% of the recommendations have been partially implemented or are still in-progress.  Only 1 recommendation has not been implemented.  The audit found that GRYD has made substantial progress in implementing the original audit’s recommendations in laying a strong foundation for a comprehensive anti-gang strategy. 

“Over the last two years and through GRYD, we have radically changed the way this City prevents and suppresses gang crime,” said Guillermo Cespedes, Deputy Mayor for GRYD. “Inside the GRYD zones, gang related crime is down 10.7 percent and our GRYD prevention strategy is perhaps the most innovative in the country based on selecting youth most at risk of joining gangs. As with any new program, we are constantly seeking ways to improve and accomplish our goals to keep our kids out of gangs and provide an exit strategy for those already involved.”

Some of the specific findings of the audit include:

·         GRYD and their contractor – the Urban Institute – have not provided any evaluation of the effectiveness of GRYD’s programs. 

o    Once it became apparent that the original evaluation plan, would not be achieved in the first year, neither the Urban Institute, nor GRYD, made any effort to revise the scope of work so that any evaluation could be accomplished.  Urban Institute was paid $525,000 through June 30th, 2010.
o    The Urban Institute originally said that it should have data to evaluate within the first six months of the evaluation, however, they are now saying it will take 18-24 months.
o    It’s important that the evaluation tool developed is not a theoretical exercise, but has real, practical application to addressing the gang crisis on the streets of Los Angeles. 

·         GRYD has developed strong partnerships with important stakeholders such as the County of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).   

o    GRYD has been an active participant in the development of the County’s anti-gang initiative and been working with LAUSD on several projects including the Safe Passages Program. 
o    GRYD has set up Advisory Committees in each of their zones, however we found that some of the committees lack structure or an organized purpose. 

·         GRYD has expanded its organizational infrastructure, however oversight and monitoring needs to improve. 

o    GRYD reorganized in the fall of 2009 to help streamline operations, along with expanding staff from 22 to 37.  They have done a relatively good job monitoring their service providers, but they need to standardize these efforts and ensure that all relevant data is being collected.   
o    GRYD created a Cabinet of government agencies to leverage all potential resources, however Cabinet members say that the group lacks any real direction and that follow-through is severely lacking.  After the audit’s fieldwork was conducted, GRYD hosted a cabinet retreat, which helped identify specific projects for the GRYD cabinet to work on. 

Controller Greuel was joined by Guillermo Cespedes, Director of the Mayor’s GRYD office; Connie Rice, Co-director of the Advancement Project; Deputy Chief Patrick Gannon, LAPD; and Rev. Dr. Henry L. Masters, Sr., Senior Pastor at Holman United Methodist Church.

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