Fiscal Year 2012 Report on the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program

We are pleased to submit this letter in fulfillment of the reporting requirement contained in Section 2806(b) of Public L. 90-351, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, as amended, concerning grants made under the Paul Coverdell National Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program in each fiscal year. 

Paul Coverdell National Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program, managed by the Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice (NIJ), provides funding to states and to units of local government to improve the quality and timeliness of forensic science and medical examiner services, in accordance with the Coverdell Act. For the purposes of the Act, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. Territories are considered states. NIJ executes the Coverdell Grants Program through a grant solicitation that has both a formula and a competitive component. Only states are eligible to apply for the formula component.

The Coverdell Act requires that 75 percent of the total program funds be awarded to states through State Administering Agencies (SAAs). These “base” awards are based on the state’s population and made to all eligible SAAs that apply. The Coverdell Act requires that the remaining 25 percent of program funds be awarded competitively. These “competitive” funds may be awarded to SAAs or dispersed directly to units of local government based on the merits of the respective applications. States and local governments that provide forensic science or medical examiner services may apply for the competitive component.

Applications for competitive funding are reviewed by an independent panel made up of subject-matter experts from the forensic science community. The panelists review and rate the applications individually based on specific evaluation criteria cited in the solicitation.

On March 20, 2012, NIJ released the solicitation seeking applications for funding under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program. NIJ received 196 applications; 23 states applied for base funding, while 31 states applied for a combination of base and competitive funding. The remaining 142 applications were received from units of local government for competitive funding. Thirty applications were denied due to various circumstances such as duplicate applications, failure to meet basic minimum requirements and non-responsive to solicitation criteria. 

NIJ made 75 awards totaling $10,586,098; 51 states received base awards, three states received combination base competitive awards, and 21 units of local government received competitive awards. View a list of the FY 2012 Coverdell awards (pdf, 51 pages).  The table includes base and competitive funding amounts and a short description of the purpose of each award.

NIJ has successfully administered the Coverdell Program since 2002. Since its inception, the Coverdell Program has awarded 931 grants to states and units of local government to improve the quality and timeliness of forensic-science services. NIJ monitors each award to ensure compliance with federal statutes, regulations, and policies which further ensure that federal funds are used appropriately. Coverdell applicants’ budgets are reviewed to ensure they are in accord with the work promised in the grant application and consistent with Coverdell Program statutory and policy requirements.

NIJ is grateful for the opportunity to help the criminal justice community improve the quality and timeliness of forensic science and medical examiner services. We look forward to continuing these efforts through important programs such as the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program.

Date Created: March 21, 2012