DOJ issues guidance on obtaining Byrne-JAG funding in the 2009 Recovery Act
The Department of Justice recently issued some additional guidance intended to help decision-makers and grant-writers at state and local law enforcement agencies to best understand the process through which they can apply for 2009 Recovery Act Allocations for Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. There are some “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):
In the recently released guidance from the DOJ, it was noted that JAG monies associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 are not available to “local governments that have not reported at least three years of data (within the last 10 years for which UCR data are available) on Part I violent crimes of the UCR to the FBI are ineligible for direct Recovery JAG local formula funding. As a transition to implementing the grant program, the law permitted Recovery JAG units of local government during 2006, 2007, and 2008 to qualify for Recovery JAG formula funds based on the last three years of UCR data which they had submitted, in any prior years.”
The DOJ documentation also includes a catch-all caveat that the “JAG solicitation includes specific information on these differences and additional requirements.” Translated, this means that there’s plenty of fine print in the Recovery Act, and grant writers at agencies across the country will have to think—and do things—a little differently that they’ve done in the past. Since much of the Byrne/JAG funding will be granted on a competitive basis, agencies should ensure that the individuals writing their grants are at the top of their game. This could require getting them trained up, and the timeframe to do that is extremely limited.
Margaret Stark, a consultant who helps public safety agencies navigate the waters of grant applications, recently told PoliceOne that they should take advantage of grant assistance and training to maximize their chances of winning awards. “In addition, agencies will need to have a clear needs-assessment for their agencies to ensure the funding will be used for the most critical needs within their departments,” Stark told PoliceOne.
Tailor your “pitch”
In fact, included in documents issued in conjunction with the announcement that the DOJ had begun to accept JAG applications was the statement: “As one of its many elements, the Recovery Act provides the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) with funding for grants to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement (including support for hiring), to combat violence against women, to fight internet crimes against children, to improve the functioning of the criminal justice system, to assist victims of crime, and to support youth mentoring. DOJ is committed to working with our national, state, local and tribal partners to ensure this funding invests in the American workforce.”
For law enforcement, the funds in the Recovery Act most directly connected with jobs is the roughly $1 billion in COPS funding, all of which is required to go to jobs. But there are ways to tie your applications for JAG grants to the creation and retention of jobs. For starters, if the equipment for which you are seeking funding is made in the U.S.A., you’d be crazy to not note that in your application.
Time is of the essence
That formula, according to documentation outlining the procedures to apply for this funding, is based on population and violent crime statistics, in combination with a minimum allocation to ensure that each state and territory receives an appropriate share of funding. Sixty percent of the allocation is awarded directly to a state and 40 percent is set aside for units of local government.
“This funding is key to helping our states and local governments fight crime and keep our streets safe,” A.G. Holder recently said, adding that the DOJ is “moving ahead of schedule to allocate these resources so we can retain police officers, enhance law enforcement capabilities, and ensure that we have the tools and equipment necessary to build safer communities.”
“We will be smart in the way we allocate these resources,” Holder said, “and we will hold ourselves accountable for the how the funds are spent, but we will ensure that their delivery is not delayed by bureaucratic red tape in Washington.”
Additional information and contacts for assistance
The BJA toll-free phone number is 1-866-268-0079. A BJA E-mail account, JAGRecovery@usdoj.gov, will be checked hourly and a “response will be provided within one business day.”
For technical assistance with submitting the application, call the GMS Support Hotline at 1–888–549–9901 (choose option 3).
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