Federal Budget Delays Put 2019 Grant Programs on Hold
Monday, November 12, 2018 | Comments
Information on the available grants, amount of funding and timelines for several federal grant programs are not yet available as the departments of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security (DHS) await final appropriations for fiscal year 2019.

Neither of those department’s budgets have been set for the coming year because they are operating on a continuing resolution while waiting for Congress to pass an appropriations bill, said Ashley Schultz, grants development consultant for Grants Office, during a webinar.

Because of the delay in final budgets for DHS and DOJ, those grant funding opportunities are expected to be on hold until early 2019. The continuing resolutions funding those and other government departments are set to expire Dec. 7.

“That said, we do expect the Department of Justice to continue on their trend of gradual increases across several program areas,” Schultz said. She doesn’t expect to see many grant programs added or deleted this year for DOJ funding. Similar gains are expected for the DHS grant programs as well. “We expect to see the competitive programs in this space continue to see moderate increases similar to the Department of Justice,” Shultz said.

Last year, DOJ grant funding opportunities related to opioids and preventative school security saw big boosts, Schultz said. The school safety funding will definitely be available in 2019 because that was guaranteed for the next 10 years in the STOP School Violence Act, she said.

No grant programs are dedicated specifically for First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) equipment and service, Schultz said. However, many of the existing DHS and DOJ grant programs expressly call out FirstNet as an eligible expense. The same is true for cybersecurity.

“There is no dedicated program for cybersecurity, but DHS is encouraging agencies to incorporate it in their larger projects,” Schultz said.

In writing a grant for new technology, agencies should focus not on the specific product or technology but instead illustrate how that technology can help it meet a specific goal or address a specific need in its community, Shultz said.

A lot of the federal grant programs also like to see the funds used in coordination and partnerships between multiple agencies in an area, Schultz said. Such partnerships allow funders to stretch their grant dollars further, reach more agencies and avoid duplicating funding.

While many available grant programs are not specifically for technology, agencies can use them for technology by looking at how that technology can support the goals of the grant.

For example, most of the technology funded by the DOJ’s School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) is intended for use on a school campus, but the grant could include some funding for equipment for officers who regularly interact with the school. Coordination with law enforcement is included as a fundable activity in the grant program.

A school might use the SVPP funding for new cameras within the school area but also include equipment that would allow officers to access the cameras from their in-vehicle devices to give them an idea of what’s going on inside the school, Schultz said.

The DOJ’s Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program (COAP) allows agencies to use funds to improve data analytics and data sharing because a key goal of the program is to expand partnerships between different law enforcement agencies to deal with opioid abuse, Schultz said.

The DHS grants focus on allowing agencies to better respond to or prevent terrorism in their jurisdiction. Specifically, there’s a focus on improving cybersecurity, protecting infrastructure and reducing long-term vulnerabilities.

It’s generally easy to incorporate technology into the DHS grants as long as an agency focuses on how that technology ties back into achieving those goals, Schultz said.

A majority of the DHS funding goes to two programs. The Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) grant program is only available to high-threat, high-density urban areas such as Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago.

However, the State Homeland Security Program is available to every state and territory. Funds are distributed to the state, and the state then distributes those funds to local and regional agencies.

Because the structure of the program and application requirements vary by state, agencies interested in the state grants should reach out to their state governments to learn more about the programs, Schultz said.

Find more information on the DOJ grant programs here and more information on the DHS programs here.

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