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Press Releases: City Controller Examines Gun Violence Reduction Grants


PHILADELPHIA – City Controller Christy Brady today issued the Review of the Community Expansion Grant Program (CEG) that found the City circumvented contracting procedures by excluding other possible providers from bidding on the contract for the oversight.

With the city experiencing historically high levels of gun violence for three consecutive years, former Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration set aside more than $30 million in the fiscal year 2022 budget for direct funding to grassroots community organizations for prevention-based initiatives in the city’s most violent hot spots. The CEG funded organizations with awards between $100,000 and $1,000,000.

At the onset of the program, the city awarded $13.5 million to 31 grassroots community organizations. The grants were intended to expand, grow, and support the grassroots community organizations by focusing on two specific programs: 1) use a trauma-informed care approach to allow for those most directly impacted by gun violence to discuss best practices for repairing their communities, and 2) create culturally relevant and supportive spaces to serve as alternatives to violence, including mentorship or workforce development services.

The city selected Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC) to be the fiduciary for the grassroots community organizations early in the process of developing the grant program. UAC was responsible for the distribution of the grant funds as well as fiscally managing each grantee.

The contract with UAC was procured through the Health Department even though the money was budgeted under the Managing Directors Office. UAC was selected without a RFP being issued because of an exemption allowing the Health Department to select nonprofit vendors without following the normal bidding process.

“By not going through the standard RFP process, the scope of services was not clearly defined, resulting in an unclear understanding of the project terms at the start,” said Brady. “The city did not follow a fair, open and transparent bid process.”

Brady continued, “Excluding other possible fiduciary providers can raise questions about accountability and can create a perception of favoritism or bias towards the chosen provider, even if unintentional.”

While the terms of the contract were still being negotiated between the two entities, the city requested that UAC send advances to the grassroots community organizations, and backdated the contract when it was conformed.

“This process left the organizations confused about their responsibilities and expectations,” said Brady.

The Controller’s report included several recommendations to improve management and accountability of these grants moving forward:

  • City departments should not request services to be performed by any contractor without a conformed contract in place and should refrain from backdating contracts.
  • Contracts should be conformed in the department where the services are budgeted.
  • An open and transparent contracting process should have been followed by requesting multiple bids from other providers.

“It’s critical for the city to ensure that all CEG grants funds are properly administered and reaching the community organizations that can help reduce and prevent gun violence,” said Brady. “We’re committed to tackling the city’s top priority and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure dedicated dollars are reaching the most impacted neighborhoods.”

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