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By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta this week ordered the Justice Department to undertake a review into whether it is adequately policing its federal grant recipients, in an effort to ensure public money is not being used to fund “illegal discrimination.”

In a September 15 memo, made publicly available on Thursday, the Justice Department ordered the review. The order comes after several civil rights organizations have for years complained that the Justice Department had been too slow in reviewing federal grant recipients’ compliance with civil rights laws. It was an effort to ensure that public money is not being used to fund “illegal discrimination.”

Over $4 billion is distributed annually by the Justice Department to fund state and local governments, victim service providers, research institutions and municipalities each year through its grant-making arms.

Grant recipients are subject to federal civil rights laws. This means they cannot discriminate against anyone based on their race, religion or gender.

“This review is intended to ensure that the department is

providing sufficient oversight and accountability regarding the activities of its federally-funded recipients,” Gupta wrote in her memo to other top department officials.

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