WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice has extended the deadline date for police agencies to apply for funds in the Recovery Act Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Formula Program.
The new application deadline is 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on June 17, 2009 (the original deadline had been May 18). DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance explained on its Web site that it had established the previous deadline “to encourage early submission of applications in an effort to provide economic stimulus as soon as possible.”
Because this is a non-competitive formula grant program, the extension of this deadline does not impact either eligibility or funding determinations.
As has previously been reported by PoliceOne, some experts have voiced concern that the volume of applications might overwhelm the staff at DOJ tasked with reviewing and approving grant requests. This is because the number of COPS and Byrne/JAG grants administered at the state and federal level has shrunk dramatically, and so too has the number of people processing grant applications. As a consequence, handlers at the DOJ could be paralyzed by paperwork.
On the other side of that coin, the daunting task of submitting these grant proposals may not have been achievable in the relatively short timeframe given to agency grant writers and decision makers. Remember, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (a.k.a. the “Recovery Act” a.k.a. the “Stimulus Package”) wasn’t signed into law by President Obama until mid-February. In early March, the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs issued documentation outlining the procedures to apply for this funding, and later that month, DOJ followed up with additional guidance intended to state and local law enforcement agencies through the Byrne/JAG applications process.
“I think the JAG/Byrne extension is primarily an effort to take time pressure off everyone involved – both DOJ, which is quite busy, and the local agencies,” said Rick Wimberly, President of Galain Solutions, a consultancy serving public safety organizations. “The original deadline was quite optimistic in the first place. When a department decides to apply for one of these grants, it normally takes approval from the department’s local governing body, which takes time. Some governing bodies don’t meet but once a month.”
Margaret Stark, a consultant who helps public safety agencies navigate the waters of grant applications, agrees. “My opinion is that they were not getting enough applications. This program was opened with no warning or notice, the deadline was tight with about 30 days to submit. Agencies were not aware of this funding and had no time to react. Since this is a formula grant nothing changes for the agencies — not the amount they can receive or how it can be used. Extending the deadline will just give agencies that have not applied enough time to get an application in and take advantage of this funding.”
Stark and Wimberly both told PoliceOne that the announced deadline extension does not indicate any change in the grants themselves. There’s no change in the number or type of funding opportunities, or in the eligibility requirements placed on interested agencies – just more time to apply.
Some $trings Attached
All federal grant money comes with some type of strings attached, and Byrne/JAG grants are certainly no exception.
“Applicants need to remember that the JAG funds through economic stimulus have additional stipulations on them,” Wimberly told PoliceOne. He added that JAG funds coming from the economic stimulus package have some extra emphasis beyond the crime-fighting objectives of Byrne/JAG grants that agencies have obtained in the past. “The JAG money under economic stimulus must fulfill some of the general recovery act objectives.”
To Wimberly’s point, it bears repeating that the stated objectives of the stimulus package (as enumerated by the Department of Justice in the original announcement issued about the Byrne/JAG elements of the 2009 Recovery Act) are to:
• Preserve and create jobs and promote economic recovery
• Assist those most impacted by the recession
• Provide investments needed to increase economic efficiency by spurring technological advances in science and health
• Invest in transportation, environmental protection, and other infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits
• Stabilize state and local government budgets
In addition, the DOJ recently noted that there are “significant differences” between the Byrne/JAG awards in the so-called economic stimulus package and JAG funds agencies have applied for in years past. These differences include but are not limited to:
• An increased emphasis on job creation and job retention
• Submission of particular certifications specified in the solicitation
• Time-specific quarterly progress reports due 10 days after the end of a quarter
• Specific Recovery Act performance measures
• Increased federal grant oversight
That said, no matching funds are required with the Byrne/JAG program and the range of uses for the available funds is very broad.
“Priority will still be given to projects that stimulate the economy such as hiring but with a formula grant priorities don’t really come into play. In other words, with a formula grant you are allocated a set amount all you need to do is apply.”
In effect, there is a lot of potential upside with comparatively low downside.
About the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program
The Byrne/JAG program is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions. Law enforcement agencies seeking to support their missions of protecting their communities have turned to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program for many years. Named for NYPD Officer Edward R. Byrne, who was killed in the line of duty in the small hours of February 26, 1988, it has been more than two decades since state and local law enforcement first began applying for the program named after this fallen hero.
“JAG funds support all components of the criminal justice system, from multijurisdictional drug and gang task forces to crime prevention and domestic violence programs, courts, corrections, treatment, and justice information sharing initiatives,” according to the DOJ. “JAG funded projects may address crime through the provision of services directly to individuals and/or communities and by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of criminal justice systems, processes, and procedures.”