Federal, state, and tribal victim assistance programs receive formula grants, discretionary grants, and set-asides according to a carefully established annual allocation procedure.
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Types of Grants
The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) awards two types of grants: Discretionary and Formula.
Discretionary Grants. Discretionary grants are awarded directly by OJP to eligible recipients and are most often awarded on a competitive basis. Some discretionary grants to organization may be awarded on a non-competitive basis, often based on congressional direction. Applicants must find and for OJP competitive discretionary grant solicitations on Grants.gov. Current solicitations are also available online at the Open Solicitations page. OJP may award funds under its discretionary grant programs to some or all of the following types of recipients, depending on authorizing legislations and selected program strategies: states, units of local government, Indian tribes and tribal organizations, individuals, educational institutions, hospitals, and private nonprofit and private commercial organizations. Therefore, SAAs may also receive discretionary grants from time to time, depending on the eligibility criteria developed by the program offices. States may be preselected or compete for discretionary grant funds.
Formula or Block Grants. The bulk of OJP funding comes from formula-based grant funds. Formula and/or block grants are awarded directly by OJP to eligible recipients as authorized by statute. For formula and/or block grant programs, statutes or appropriations acts specify how the funds will be allocated among the eligible recipients, as well as the method by which an applicant must demonstrate its eligibility for that funding. Examples of this type of grant at OJP are the OJJDP Juvenile Accountability Block Grants Program and the OVC VOCA Victim Compensation Formula Grants. Generally, States, territories, and sometimes Indian tribes and local units of government are eligible for awards under OJP’s various block and formula grant programs. Specific eligibility criteria for each program is set forth in the program’s governing statute and rules.
The award amount is calculated by a formula, and may vary among programs. Award calculations can consider such factors as population, census data, juvenile offender population, and Part 1 violent crimes reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Formula grant programs can be either for a specific purpose (assisting juvenile offenders, for example) or related to public safety in general. The dollar amount available to applicants under each program is included in the solicitation. The specific recipient for state formula programs should be designated by each state. For state formula programs, OJP maintains a list of the designated agencies authorized by each state to administer the programs. Most OJP formula grant programs provide funding to state agencies, which may, in turn, subgrant funds to support relevant projects of local governments and private agencies.
Funding from OJP is available through its five program offices: 1) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), (2) the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), (3) the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), (4) the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), and (5) the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). Monies awarded by these offices are administered separately; each has its own funding requirements, funds accountability, and focus. We will describe the grant programs administered by each office, explain how formula moneys are allocated, and introduce the OJP grants information and application process.
Learn more about the grants management process.
OJP Formula Grants
The bulk of OJP funding comes from formula-based grant funds. Three offices award monies directly in formula grants: (1) the Bureau of Justice Assistance, (2) the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and (3) the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). An agency may administer some or all of these formula grant programs. (Click here for a full list of administering agencies).
Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)
The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. JAG uses a formula based on population and statistics reported in the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) in combination with a minimum allocation to ensure that each state and territory receives an appropriate share. The approved purpose areas are: 1) law enforcement programs; 2) prosecution and court programs; 3) prevention and education programs; 4) corrections and community corrections programs; 5) drug treatment programs; and 6) planning, evaluation, and technology improvement programs. (Visit the Byrne JAG section for more information).
The Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) Program. RSAT supports individual and group substance abuse treatment for offenders in residential facilities operated by state and local correctional agencies.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)
The Formula Grants Program (FGP). FGP supports state and local delinquency prevention and intervention efforts and juvenile justice system improvements. Through FGP, OJJDP provides funds directly to states, territories, and the District of Columbia to help implement comprehensive state juvenile justice plans based on detailed studies of needs. Title V Incentive Grants for Local Delinquency Prevention Programs, Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Program, and Part E State Challenge Grants programs all support state and local efforts to improve the juvenile justice system and prevent delinquency.
The Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG) Program. JABG supports state and local efforts to address juvenile crime by encouraging reforms that hold all offenders accountable for their crimes.
Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)
Victim of Crime (VOCA) formula grants. VOCA formula grants for crime victim compensation are awarded to every state, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. These grants supplement state funds that reimburse victims for out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the crime.
Victim Assistance (VA) subgrants. VOCA formula grants for crime victim assistance, awarded through subgrants to state agencies and local service providers, support direct services to crime victims in every state, the District of Columbia, and every territory.
Formula Grant Award Allocations
The bulk of OJP funding comes from formula-based grant funds. The formula used to compute any one state’s allocation varies by program; is driven by federal statute; and may involve such factors as minimum allocations for each state/territory, population size, and crime rate. For example, the calculation used to allocate funds awarded by BJA under JAG is based on a multifaceted set of statutory requirements (see figure 1). RSAT, on the other hand, first allocates each state 0.4 percent of total funds available, and then allocates the remaining funds based on the ratio of a state’s prison population to the total prison population of all states.
View the Flow Chart of Formula Calculation for the Justice Assistance Grant Program.
Matching requirements for these programs vary. Statutorily, JAG does not require a state/local matching contribution; however, a state may impose a match on these funds. RSAT requires at least a 25-percent state match in cash or in-kind contribution. A “pass-through” is often attached as a means to ensure funding is afforded to units of local and tribal government. Under JAG, the minimum pass-through to local and tribal units is based on the ratio of local and tribal criminal justice expenditures to the total criminal justice expenditures of all jurisdictions. For RSAT, that minimum pass-through amount is 10 percent of the state’s allocation.
Federal grant requirements are a combination of statutorily driven requirements from Congress and public policy developed by the program offices. It is important that the executive director and his or her staff understand, and identify in the guidance, this distinction. Exceptions to program office policy may be considered; exceptions to federal statutes must be addressed specifically by Congress. For example, matching or pass-through requirements are statutorily based, thereby precluding BJA from waiving them under JAG. On the other hand, BJA may revise the content of the program narrative required from the SAA to successfully receive its JAG award.
The program offices generally publish their call for applications and formula grant program guidance soon after the annual Congressional appropriation. The grant guidance provides critical information, including the amount each state and territory is allocated, eligibility criteria, length of award, matching requirements, pass-through, and specific program requirements. Information may be updated throughout the year to clarify policies and procedures.
Current funding opportunities can be found on the OJP website and the Grants.gov website.
Under JAG, the timing for SAAs to submit their applications is statutorily based. The state’s chief executive officer (and the SAA) is required to submit an application to the U.S. Attorney General (and BJA) within 90 days of the annual Congressional appropriation. This is an extremely critical deadline. Under FGP, states must submit an application within 60 days after official notification by OJJDP or by March 31 of that fiscal year, whichever date is later. This deadline is likewise critical. There is no time-specific statutory requirement governing submission of applications under RSAT. Once a program office announces the call for applications and provides application kit/program guidance, SAAs prepare their applications using the Standard Form 424.
Applications are submitted online through Grants.gov (for competitive discretionary grants) or the Grants Management System (GMS) as stipulated in the solicitation (for formula grants, continuation grants, and congressionally directed awards). Application instructions are included in the application kit. SAA staff should maintain close coordination with the program office in order to clarify requirements and expedite the process.
OJP Financial Guide
The Office of Justice Program's Financial Guide is provided for the use of all recipients and their subrecipients of Federal grant programs administered by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). It serves as a compilation of the various laws and regulations governing Department of Justice grants financial management and administration.
See also OJP resources for financial training and technical assistance.
Of course, a state agency also may administer state-initiated funding streams and programs. Information about these programs may be found on a state’s funding web page. The process by which the SAA receives and administers state-initiated funding streams and programs may vary from state to state; however, it is important to know of these programs, both in context of specific actions needed to acquire the funds and how those state-initiated programs relate to federal programs in planning for closing state and local criminal and juvenile justice gaps.