February 7, 2006
The Honorable John Walters
Office of National Drug Control Policy
Executive Office of the President
Washington, DC 20503
Dear Director Walters:
We recently sent you a letter expressing our grave concerns for the way the Fiscal Year 2005
Drug Free Communities grantee selection was handled. In that letter, we asked ONDCP to
develop and implement an independent and unbiased appeals process by which, the de-funded
Drug Free Communities continuation grantees could appeal the decision not to fund their
application. Weare writing again to express continued frustration by the lack of progress being
made on this request.
In a letter dated January 18th and signed by Deputy Director Mary Ann Solberg, she writes that
"ONDCP has decided to review the applications of the sixty-two community organizations that
sought, but were denied a competitive renewal grant." While we are happy to see ONDCP
finally showing a willingness to cooperate, we want to make it abundantly clear that this in no
way constitutes a bona fide appeals process.
The purpose of asking for an appeals process, was to ensure that the de-funded coalitions are
provided the due process afforded them by law. The process explained in the January 18thletter
is nothing more than a secondary review of the de-funded applicants by ONDCP itself. This
process is in no way impartial, nor is it conducive to ensuring proper oversight.
In our previous letter, we asked that ONDCP provide us with an outline of the parameters by
which the appeals process would be guided. Included in those parameters were: where the
money would come from; who would administer the review; and a date by which we could
expect final decisions. None of these parameters were included in the letter dated January 18th.
Furthermore, we have concerns about the following deficiencies with the proposed "appeals
. The proposed plan lays out no specific time-table for ONDCP to provide the de-funded
continuations with the in-depth rationales for their grants being denied.
. The proposed plan does not detail what is meant by "in depth rationales for grant
denials". Does this include all notes and actual reviewer comments on the exact reasons
for the determination, and on what in the original application it was based? Or, will this
be a pro forma check list to include which of the ten criteria the de-funded grantees did
. The proposed plan lays out no specific steps or time-table for how the review process will
be handled or exactly who will be handling it.
. The proposed plan gives no indication as to what instructions will be given to grantees on
how to appeal the funding decision or to show that they were unfairly and mistakenly
terminated. Furthermore, no indication is given as to what time frame the grantees have
to accomplish this.
. The proposed plan does not specify:when grant awards will be given to those determined
to have been wrongly de-funded; how much the grant awards will be for; or from what
source and what fiscal year the money will come from.
While it is important that ONDCP conduct a review the applications of the sixty-two de-funded
coalitions, the proposed review does little to satisfy our request for an appeals process. Without
proper oversight and unbiased third party review, the process cannot be seen as impartial or
With continued questions lingering over the legality and/or fairness of the FY 05 grantee
selection process, we ask that you provide to us no later than February 17,1006 a more detailed
outline of the parameters by which the appeals process will be guided. Included in these
parameters should be: who, outside ONDCP, will administer the review; where the money will
come from; and a date by which we can expect final decisions; etc.
We appreciate your cooperation in this important matter.
Charles E. Grassley
Joseph R. Biden, Jr.