State Administering Agencies (SAAs) are entities within state and territorial governments and the District of Columbia that are responsible for comprehensive criminal justice planning and policy development. In addition, these agencies allocate resources statewide and distribute, monitor and report on spending under the federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program and, in most cases, other grant programs. As required by federal statute, the SAA is designated by the Governor, or in the case of territories and the District of Columbia, the head of the executive branch.
As the executive branch agency designated to accept, plan and distribute criminal justice funds, SAAs seek to leverage state and federal grant dollars to address the needs of statewide and local criminal justice systems. Because of this responsibility, SAAs serve as the primary coordinating body for state and local public safety issue identification, system collaboration, policy development, and system planning and implementation. These responsibilities require SAAs to work closely with a myriad of state and local entities including: law enforcement, prosecution and defense agencies, court systems, corrections departments, non-profit service providers and professional associations.
There are 56 Byrne JAG SAAs in all 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia. Most SAAs are a component of the Governor’s (or Mayor’s) office, a free-standing criminal justice planning entity or a division of the state department of public safety. Due to differences in location, formula grants administered, research capacity and the leadership selection processes, SAAs are a diverse group of government agencies with differing capacities, perspectives, missions and priorities. Their mission, vision and strategic focus are often defined by state statute.
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The information presented here is intended to support the professional development of new SAA administrators and their staff as they navigate local, state and federal financial and programmatic issues surrounding justice programs.