Question and Answers for Specific Solicitations

NIJ posts on this page links to questions and answers related to specific solicitations. Select a solicitation title below to view associated questions and answers. If you do not see the specific solicitation to which you are applying, then no questions and answers have been posted. (Learn how to submit questions).


Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence

Download the solicitation (pdf, 43 pages)

Q-1: Our State law does not define “violent felony offenses.” Is there any additional guidance on this requirement?
A: NIJ recognizes that offense definitions may vary from State to State, including as to whether certain offenses may constitute felony or misdemeanor violations of a State’s criminal laws. In order to determine whether a felony conviction under a particular State’s criminal laws was for an offense that may reasonably be considered to be a “violent felony” offense for the purpose of identifying cases that may be funded with NIJ grant funds under the Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence program, an applicant may look to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program data and information for general guidance. For example, under the UCR Program, the FBI has generally listed the offenses of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, as a part of its “violent crime” category of crimes on which it collects statistics. Prospective applicants may also consider seeking the advice and assistance of counsel in the State from which cases proposed to be funded in the application are derived, if there are questions about whether a particular type of felony case may be reasonably comparable to a violent crime(s), such as under the UCR Program.

NIJ Research and Evaluation on Drugs and Crime

Download the solicitation (pdf, 41 pages)

On February 22, 2017, NIJ held a webinar to discuss this solicitation. The recording and transcript of that webinar include a question and answer period. View the video or read the transcript.

Q-1: Some elements of our proposed work have already been submitted to a different federal grant opportunity. May we still submit a proposal with some duplicate elements?
A: Submission of application under another federal grant opportunity does not prohibit you from applying.
Q-2: Are federal agencies, including Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC) eligible to apply?
A: Federal agencies, unless otherwise specified in the solicitation, are not eligible to apply. Each individual FFRDC must determine whether its policies (or that of its federal sponsor) permit the FFRDC to accept funding from other federal agencies by way of a federal grant award. Should these governing policies permit the FFRDC in question to accept and administer grant funding from other agencies, as a recipient, the FFRDC may accordingly apply to this solicitation as its private sector entity type – as allowed under this solicitation – or can receive funds (as a subrecipient) through its private-sector administering entity – as allowed under this solicitation.

FY 2017 Comprehensive School Safety Initiative

Download the solicitation (pdf, 46 pages)

Q-1: The solicitation indicates that foreign entities are not eligible to apply. It also indicates that any other entities responsible for carrying out the reward must be subgrantees. Does the restriction on foreign entities applying pertain also pertain to subgrantees?
A: Foreign entities are eligible subrecipients under this program. Applicants are reminded that subrecipients are required to adhere to all applicable uniform (grant) administrative requirements, cost principles, and audit requirements set forth in 2 C.F.R. § 200 and other applicable law, as well as the Department of Justice Financial Guide and all conditions of the grant award. Any organization unable to meet these requirements should not be considered as an eligible subrecipient. Applicants must also note that as recipients, they must be familiar with and periodically monitor their subrecipients financial operations, records, systems, and procedures. Please review Section 3.14 of the Department of Justice Financial Guide for more information on subrecipient oversight and monitoring.
Q-2: If a grant applicant or a subgrantee licenses or purchases a program developed by a foreign entity is that an issue?
A: Generally-speaking, there would be no prohibition on using grant funds to license or purchase “a program developed by a foreign entity.” Please review Section 3.8 of the Department of Justice Financial Guide for how to conduct and manage procurements funded under OJP federal grants (and subawards (“subgrants”)).
Q-3: Per page 6 of the solicitation, “NIJ seeks applications that will lead to the development and implementation of trainings and/or tools that will significantly improve the work of SROs. NIJ is interested in research that will answer the following questions:..” Does an applicant need to address all the questions that are listed on pages 6-7?
A: The list of questions on pages 6-7 is provided to illustrate topics that NIJ views as important. It is not necessary for any individual project to address every question in the list. Furthermore, the list is not exhaustive of all of the questions that may be of interest to NIJ.
Q-4: Could you please clarify what 1/3 of the funding should go toward in the budget? Does 1/3 of the total funds requested need to be set up as a subaward that goes directly to the partner school?
A: Per page 10 of the solicitation, “Applicants for Categories 1-3 should: Dedicate up to 1/3 (one-third) of funding directly to research partners to develop and carry out a rigorous program of evaluation. No less than 2/3 (two-thirds) of funding should go towards the personnel, programs, equipment, materials, training, and other activities intended to advance school and student safety that will be subject to evaluation. A budget should be prepared for the full period of performance that clearly reflects the 1/3 and 2/3 split.” Please refer to the "What an Application Should Include" section of the solicitation for more details on expectations and requirements.
Q-5: In the grant instruction, I read, “NIJ is focused on K-12 public schools.” Does this mean that a research university seeking funding to study a particular aspect of school safety at a community college would not be funded?
A: That is correct. As stated on page 4 of the solicitation, “CSSI is focused on K-12 public schools (including public charter schools). The initiative is concerned with all forms of violence that occur on school property during or outside of school hours, on the way to-and-from school or school-sponsored events, on school-sponsored modes of transport, or during school-sponsored events.” Applicants are encouraged to review the Goals, Objectives, and Deliverables section of the solicitation prior to developing their application.

NIJ FY17 Visiting Fellows Program

Download the solicitation (pdf, 37 pages)

Based on queries related to the six-month residency requirement, NIJ will consider exceptions to the 6-month residency requirements in exceptional situations. Reasonable presence in Washington, DC, will be needed in all cases.


Understanding the Impacts of Policing Strategies and Practices (Beyond Crime Reduction)

Downaload the solicitation (pdf, 39 pages)

Footnote 8, the callout for which is on page 8, is missing in the solicitation. It should read:

Sue Rahr; Rice, S.k, From Warriors to Guardians: Recommitting American Police Culture to Democratic Ideals, New Perspectives in Policing, Washington, DC: U.S. Department National Institute of Justice, April 2014, NCJ 248654
Q-1: Does NIJ grant exceptions to the data archiving policy? My proposed project would not collect any data and instead rely on secondary data analysis of datasets. The use of these datasets for the proposed project is highly beause of privacy protection and I would not be able to archive them.
A: NIJ understands that not all data necessarily needs to be, nor can be archived.

Investigator-Initiated Research and Evaluation on Firearms Violence

Download the solictiation (pdf, 38 pages)

Q-1:We would like to include research using data obtained through a paid subscription service and is considered private information. We would not be able to submit the data sets to NACJD. Would we be able to receive funding without submitting our data sets?
A:NIJ seeks to archive all data sets that are assembled or analyzed as part of NIJ-funded grants. The goal is to maximize the use of research data by other researchers for further analysis. NIJ requires grant applicants to submit a data archiving plan for depositing their analytic data at the conclusion of the project. The archiving requirement applies to the grantee and any sub-grantees if the application is funded.

The National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), supported by NIJ, has vast expertise in efficiently archiving and protecting criminal justice research data while providing access to archived data to advance additional scientific research. NIJ requires grant applicants to make NACJD archiving a central aspect of their plan for data archiving.

Research and Evaluation in Safety, Health, and Wellness in the Criminal Justice System

Download the solicitation (pdf, 42 pages).

On February 21, 2017, NIJ held a webinar to discuss this solicitation. The recording and transcript of that webinar include a question and answer period. View the video or read the transcript.

Q-1: May we include a link to a video presentation of our organization as opposed to including the video an attachment?
A: Applicants should include supplementary information as an appendix to inform reviewers. Should an applicant include a hyperlink, there is no guarantee that the link will be reviewed.
Q-2: Is there a maximum budget or suggested budget range per project? Does that differ between the three categories?
A: There is no maximum budget request amount per category. There is no specified limit or a suggestive budget range per project. We suggest you review "Section B. Federal Award Information” in the solicitation document.
Q-3: Are 911 dispatchers included as law enforcement under category 1 for the above solicitation?
A: If they fit within the definition of “employee in law enforcement activities” as defined in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Section 553.211 – Law Enforcement activities. 29 CFR 553.211 (a) defines an employee in law enforcement activities as “…any employee (1) who is a uniformed or plain clothed member of a body of officers and subordinates who are empowered by State statute or local ordinance to enforce laws designed to maintain public peace and order and to protect both life and property from accidental or willful injury, and to prevent and detect crimes, (2) who has the power to arrest, and (3) who is presently undergoing or has undergone or will undergo on-the-job training and/or a course of instruction and study which typically includes physical training, self-defense, firearm proficiency, criminal and civil law principles, investigative and law enforcement techniques, community relations, medical aid and ethics.”

29 CFR 553.211 (g) goes on to note, “Not included in the term “employee in law enforcement activities” are the so-called “civilian” employees of law enforcement agencies or correctional institutions who engage in such support activities as those performed by dispatcher, radio operators, …”
Q-4: Can an applicant partner with an agency in another state or jursidcition?
A: NIJ does not prohibit an applicant from teaming with an entity in another state.
Q-5: Does NIJ issue or accept certificates of confidentiality in place of a privacy certificate?
A: No. NIJ does not issue or accept Certificates of Confidentiality issued by National Institutes of Health (NIH) or HHS. Grantees must provide an approved Privacy Certificate. Under the DOJ confidentiality statute (42 USC 3789g), this makes the identifiable data collected immune from any legal action. Neither the Privacy Certificate nor the informed consent documentation should contain language about Certificates of Confidentiality. The Privacy Certificate and consents should accurately describe that the identifiable data collected is immune from legal process because the researcher submitted a Privacy Certificate; it was approved by NIJ and is, therefore, covered by DOJ statute.

If funded, the applicant is required to submit a Privacy Certificate, compliant with 42 USC 3789g and 28 CFR Part 22. Once reviewed and accepted by NIJ Human Subject Protection Office, the Privacy Certificate will cover the police and correctional officer participants so that their biomarker and psychological data cannot be subpoenaed. The Privacy Certificate is available here: https://www.nij.gov/funding/humansubjects/documents/NIJ_pccr_fillable.pdf
Q-6: We are interested in assessing our evidence based and validated comprehensive commercial off-the-shelf wellness program using web-based and mobile devices, to help measure physiological stress levels before and after an intervention. Can you clarify as to whether an intervention to determine whether stress outcomes (not ours, specifically) is acceptable for this solicitation?
A: NIJ would suggest you carefully read the solicitation, with special attention to the “Program-Specific Information” section, as well as the “Goals, Objectives and Deliverables” section as well as the webinar related to this solicitation. This should assist you in assessing whether or not your concept for proposal is appropriate for submission to this solicitation. View the recording of the webinar, transcript, and slides.
Q-7: Does category one include causes of trauma? Although the category title includes the word, "causes," the text refers only to exposure and impact. Would a project examining ways to reduce causes of traumatic injuries be considered?
A: Category 1 may include a project related to the causes of trauma. NIJ would suggest you carefully read the solicitation, with special attention to the “Program-Specific Information” section, as well as the “Goals, Objectives and Deliverables” section. This should assist you in assessing whether or not your concept for proposal is appropriate for submission to this solicitation. Note also that if you propose looking at the causes of trauma, those traumatic injuries must have resulted from a crime (e.g., sexual assault) or in the commission of a crime (e.g., robbery).
Q-8: If we propose a three wave study using interviews with established measures, do we need to include the full interview questions?
A: Applications may include full or partial instruments as attachments, should you choose to include them.
Q-9: Are federal agencies, including Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC) eligible to apply?
A: Federal agencies, unless otherwise specified in the solicitation, are not eligible to apply. Each individual FFRDC must determine whether its policies (or that of its federal sponsor) permit the FFRDC to accept funding from other federal agencies by way of a federal grant award. Should these governing policies permit the FFRDC in question to accept and administer grant funding from other agencies, as a recipient, the FFRDC may accordingly apply to this solicitation as its private sector entity type – as allowed under this solicitation – or can receive funds (as a subrecipient) through its private-sector administering entity – as allowed under this solicitation.

W.E.B. Du Bois Program of Research on Race and Crime FY 2017

Download the solicitation (pdf, 42 pages)

Q-1: Is there any limitation on paying and working with a co-principal investigator(s) for Category 2? Would they be considered a consultant and subject to the limit of $650 per day or $81.25 per hour? What is the distinction between personnel, consultant, and subrecipient?
A: Applicants may propose a co-Principal Investigator as personnel if they share the Principal Investigator’s organizational affiliation, as a contractor if they are affiliated with a different organization, or as an independent consultant.
Q-2: Under category 1, "W.E.B. Du Bois Scholars in Race and Crime Research," can the mentees appear on the grant and receive funding from the grant as well? Is there a particular way they need to be listed?
A: Category 1 applications must append a detailed plan for the Principal Investigator (PI) to mentor less experienced researchers on the grant; their research team positions and respective compensation is at the discretion of the applicant. Per the solicitation, “Scholars must propose a mentorship component to the study that goes beyond hiring graduate and undergraduate students as project staff” (p. 10). The proposed budget should indicate each researcher’s affiliation, position, level of effort and/or other basis for cost calculations.

New Investigator/Early Career Program in the Social and Behavioral Sciences

Download the solicitation (pdf, 36 pages)

NIJ has received a number of questions related to eligibility. The following clarifies the minimum requirement that must be met at the time of application. Applications must propose research led by a Principal Investigator (PI) who:

  • Was awarded a terminal degree in their field within the four (4) years prior to September 30, 2017 (October 1, 2013 – September 30, 2017).
  • Holds a non-tenured assistant professor position at an accredited institution of higher education in the United States
  • Has not previously served as PI on an NIJ research grant or fellowship. Individuals who have held Graduate Research Fellowships with NIJ or have served as a PI on an award under the “Data Resources Program” solicitation are not deemed “PIs” under that award and are eligible under this solicitation.
  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens.
Q-1: I am currently an assistant professor at a university but will be joining a different insitution on September 1, 2017. Should my current or future institution submit my application?
A: The institution that applies for the award should be the institution that will manage the award for the duration of the project period. NIJ cannot guarantee that award transfers amongst recipients will be permissible in all situations.

Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program

Download the solicitations: Formula program (pdf, 46 pages) or Competitive (pdf, 50 pages)

On January 12, 2017, NIJ held a webinar to discuss this solicitation. The recording and transcript of that webinar include a question and answer period.

View the video or read the transcript.

Q-1: If an application is to include a sub-recipient, does the sub-recipient also have to submit the Certification as to Forensic Science Laboratory System Accreditation?
A:The certification is required to be submitted by the applicant, not the subrecipient. The applicant, in submitting the certification, will be certifying that any lab that will receive any portion of grant funds either is accredited or, if not, will be required in an enforceable and legally binding writing (such as subaward documentation) to use a portion of the grant funds to apply for accreditation within two years of the award date.

This accreditation certification, however, is not required to be provided as to any medical examiner’s or coroner’s office in the State that will receive any portion of the grant funds.
Q-2: I have a question regarding Certification No. 3 which requires forensic science laboratory accreditation. We are a County Police Department with a forensic fingerprint lab, a forensic computer analysis lab, and a lab that performs forensic analysis of electronic media, all within our Department. None of the labs are individually accredited, however our department as a whole has is accredited. Does our overall department accreditation cover the labs or does each lab have to be individually accredited or agree to becoming accredited within the two year period?
A: Per the language in the solicitation: “any forensic science laboratory system[…] in the State, including any laboratory operated by a unit of local government within the State, that will receive any portion of the grant amount is accredited by an accrediting body that is a signatory to an internationally recognized arrangement and that offers accreditation to forensic science conformity assessment bodies using an accreditation standard that is recognized by that internationally recognized arrangement." Therefore, the labs would need to attest that they would seek accreditation from an appropriate accrediting body if they do not currently comply.
Q-3: Can funds under this program be used to address a a backlog of DNA evidence?
A: A backlog in DNA evidence is a permissible use of Coverdell funds. As described in the solicitation, the following language is not all inclusive: "To eliminate a backlog in the analysis of forensic science evidence, including, among other things, a backlog with respect to firearms examination, latent prints, impression evidence, toxicology, digital evidence, fire evidence, controlled substances, forensic pathology, questioned documents, and trace evidence."
Q-4: Is there a required standard for awarding funds to a sub-recipient? We have used UCR data to allocate funds but we have not found documentation that this is required.
A: The Coverdell Program does not have a required standard for sub-awards. The guidance provided by the Coverdell – Formula program: “States are expected to consider the needs of laboratories operated by units of local government as well as those operated by the State.” However, it is up to the State to determine how to distribute funds.
Q-5: If we are not a forensic science laboratory, how do we address the certifications regarding a plan for forensic science laboratories, laboratory practices, and accreditation?
A: All applicants must submit certications as requred by the Coverdell law (at 42 U.S.C. § 3797k). See section C, "Eligibility Information," in the solicitation.

Please note that funds will not be made available to applicant agencies that fail to provide the necessary information. Please also note that the accreditation certification is NOT required to be provided as to any medical examiner’s or coroner’s office in the State that will receive any portion of the grant funds.
Q-6: When the available funding states the “maximum amount a State or unit of local government may receive in competitive funds is $250,000”, does that mean that the total that all applicants from the State of Wisconsin could receive would be $250,000? Or could each unit of local government be awarded up to $250,000?
A: Per page 6 of the solicitation, “NIJ expects to make awards of up to $250,000, with an estimated total amount awarded of up to $2,875,000.” For FY 2017, the “maximum amount a State or unit of local government may receive in competitive funds is $250,000.” (emphasis added) Each applicant may be awarded up to $250,000.
Q-7: Our lab would like to purchase some new equipment that is available with extended warranty/maintenance contract of 3-5 years. If we include the cost for the extended contract in our budget would this be an allowable expense?
A: Equipment warranties and maintenance contracts are an allowable expense if the applicant accurately estimates that the year-over-year cost of the warranty or maintenance contract is expected to be less than that of equipment replacement during the warranty period and/or the cost of ad hoc equipment service requests. Grant funds cannot be applied to warranties or maintenance costs for existing equipment.

Research and Development in Forensic Science for Criminal Justice Purposes

Download the solicitation (pdf, 47 pages)

Webinar

On January 11, 2017, NIJ held a webinar to discuss this solicitation. The recording and transcript of that webinar include a question and answer period.

View the video or read the transcript.

Q-1:We are developing a proposal for this solicitation and are working with an international partner. Does NIJ limit the IDC rate for international partners to less than 10 percent, or should we have them use the de minimis rate of 10 percent?
A: As the direct recipient of Federal funding, you are responsible for approving indirect cost rates for your subrecipients. Such rates must be consistent with the requirements of 2 C.F.R. § 200. The Federal awarding agency will not approve indirect cost rates beyond the direct recipient level; however, subrecipients who are also direct recipients of Federal awards may already have a Federally approved indirect cost rate. If your subrecipient has negotiated an indirect cost rate with the Federal government, then that rate applies.
Q-2: Are Federal agencies, including Federally Funded Research and Devlopment Centers, eligible to apply under this solicitation?
A: As stated on page one of the solicitation, “NIJ may also enter into interagency agreements with Federal entities in appropriate cases.” This includes Federally Funded Research and Development Center laboratories.
Q-3: If a Federally Funded Research and Development Center is selected for an award, will the award be funded though an Interagency Agreement between NIJ and the FFRDC's administering agency?
A: Yes,if the FFDRC is selected for an award, the award would be funded through an Interagency Agreement with NIJ and the administering agency.
Q-4: We will be submitting a revised proposal that was not funded last year. If the application is changed significantly, may I use a different title and should I submit as a "resubmission" or "new application?"
A: Yes, you may use a different title. The application should be labeled as “new application” on the SF-424.
Q-5: Regarding Purpose Area 1, Forensic Pathology Fellowships, does the grant period have to be 10/1/17-9/30/18 or could an agency apply for grant funding to cover a fellowship during the period of 7/1/2018-6/30/19?
A: Per the Federal Award Information section on page 7, it is recommended to submit a start date of January 1, 2018; however if an award is made it will take time to review and approve budgets and other related documents. Furthermore, it may take time to secure a fellow thus a start date of 1/1/2018 will permit your agency to find a suitable candidate. The award may be extended to permit the 1-year fellowship.
Q-6: On page 23, the solicitation is asking for documentation of "new investigator" status, if applicable. What documentation is required?
A: The solicitation (p. 9) states that: "To be considered a 'new investigator' for the purposes of this solicitation, one of the two sets of criteria below must be demonstrated, and the applicant should identify the principal investigator(s) and any co-investigators, as “new investigator(s)” on the title page of the proposal."

In order to be considered for new investigator status, in addition to identifying yourself as such on the program narrative title page, you should submit documentation demonstrating that you (and any co-investigators) meet one of the two criteria listed in the solicitation. For example, new faculty member(s) should include an appropriate attachment to verify that they meet the junior faculty criterion (e.g., an official appointment letter from the University, as well as a statement that they have never received research funding from NIJ, except as a graduate student). Senior faculty members should similarly include documentation from the University of a full-time faculty appointment, as well as a statement that they have not received NIJ research funding in the past 10 years.
Q-7: How do we indicate that content in our application is proprietary?
A: An applicant may include a brief statement with the program narrative or other attachments that they consider to contain proprietary information (or another marking method that they consider appropriate to designate this). All NIJ staff and peer reviewers who access the proposal will be bound by a non-disclosure agreement, but an additional statement or designation of proprietary information may also be included, at the applicant's discretion.

Please be aware that the abstracts of funded projects become public information.
Q-8: If we do not file as a new investigator project- does that protect the NI status of all personnel going forward? Or, if we are granted funds, regardless of NI status- personnel will most likely not be able to submit as NI going forward?
A: NIJ cannot speculate on any requirements that might be included in future solicitations. We urge all applicants to review the "New Investigator" requirements of the current solicitation and identify themselves as such, if applicable. Any determination regarding project staff members' potential "New Investigator" status under future solicitations should be made, at the applicant's discretion, based on the information given in the solicitation prevailing at that time.
Q-9: How does NIJ define a "collaborative researcher?"
A:Consultants could be considered "collaborative researchers," depending on the level of their involvement with the scientific direction of the project. See p. 22 of the solicitation under "Senior/Key Personnel Profile" (senior/key personnel may be considered functionally equivalent to "collaborative researchers):
Senior/key personnel are defined as all individuals who contribute in a substantive, meaningful way to the scientific development or execution of the project, whether or not salaries are requested. Consultants should be included if they meet this definition.
Q-10: If there is a PI and a co-PI, does this count as a multiple PI application?
A: Yes, a PI and Co-PI constitutes a multiple PI application and the applicant should describe the roles and planned activities of each member of the research team.

Research and Evaluation for the Testing and Interpretation of Physical Evidence in Publicly Funded Forensic Laboratories

Download the solicitation (pdf, 38 pages)

On January 12, 2017, NIJ held a webinar to discuss this solicitation. The recording and transcript of that webinar include a question and answer period.

View the video or read the transcript.


Strengthening the Medical Examiner-Coroner System Program

Download the solicitation (pdf, 42 pages)

Q-1: Does the pathology fellow have to be an employee of the applicant? Or can that fellow be an employee of an institution and the applicant funds their salary by contract? For example: The fellowship is ran by an institution of higher education and fellow is an employee of theirs, however, the work performed by the fellow is at our Coroner office and we provide money for their salary paid to the institution by contract.
A: The eligibility statement for Purpose Area 1 of the Strengthening the Medical Examiner – Coroner System Program reads as follows:
“Eligible applicants for Purpose Area 1, Forensic Pathology Fellowships, are limited to entities with programs that should meet or exceed the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)1 or its international equivalent’s requirements.” Therefore, if the applicant entity/institution meets the accreditation standards set forth by the ACGME (or equivalent) then the applicant entity/institution is eligible to apply for funding under this solicitation.
Q-2: Regarding "Performance Measures for Purpose Area 2: Medical Examiner-Coroner Office Accreditation," what is the information requested in the "Data Recipient Provides" column for this objective?
A: ‘Data Recipient Provides’ denotes performance metrics that will be used to detail the impact or progress of the program. Performance measures are included as an alert that NIJ will require successful applicants to submit specific data as part of their reporting requirements. For this application, applicants should indicate an understanding of these requirements and discuss how they will gather the required data.
Q-3: What is the definition of an "analyst?" What is meant by "certified analyst?"
A:Analyst in this particular program is defined as either a coroner or medical examiner (or an employee/staff of the ME-Coroner office engaged in technical duties essential to the function of the ME-C office). A certified analyst is an individual that completes a recognized course or curriculum and passes an examination administered by an independent body that attests to their competence and abilities. For example, ABMDI (American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators) “certifies individuals who have the proven knowledge and skills necessary to perform medicolegal death investigations.”
Q-4: Can you clarify what is meant by the "Number of analysts seeking certification with Strengthening the Medical Examiner?"
A: The number of analysts seeking certification with the Strengthening the Medical Examiner–Coroner System Program (ME-C Program) is the number of individual analysts, as defined previously, that are engaged in a recognized, appropriate certification program with the intention of successful completion as a result of the ME-C Program.

Research, Development, and Evaluation of Technologies to Improve School Safety

Download the solicitation (pdf, 38 pages)

Q-1: Are universities included in the definition of “schools”? In other words, would a proposal focusing on improving university/college campus safety (that could be extended to K-12) be appropriate for this solicitation?
A: This solicitation is intended to support school safety technology research and development with direct applicability to K-12 public schools (including public charter schools).

Research to Improve Officer Decision-making

Download the solicitation (pdf, 39 pages)

On February 14, 2017, NIJ held a webinar to discuss this solicitation. The recording and transcript of that webinar include a question and answer period. View the video or read the transcript.

Q-1: We are developing a project in which we would develop a training curriculum and then evaluate the effects of that training. Would the training curriculum development and training costs be applicable costs under this solicitation? Or would the funding available through this solicitation apply only to the research costs in this example?
A: Program costs may be applicable depending on what is proposed. They are not prohibited.
Q-2: The data we would use would be highly sensitive and shared with us by law enforcement agency partners only in a restricted capacity. We anticipate that we may not be able to submit the data sets to the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data as required in the solicitation, though we anticipate that we would be able to share our programming code as to allow future researchers who obtain the data through their own data sharing agreements to reproduce all constructed measures and the original data analysis. Would this be allowable?
A: It may be allowable depending on what is proposed.
Q-2: Can a sample cost-benefit-analysis be provided? If not, can NIJ deliniate the necessary components of the cost-benefits analysis?
A: NIJ has not defined necessary components to encourage prospective applicants to propose their own.
Q-3: How many awards NIJ is anticipating to make, and in what amount?
A: Under this funding opportunity, NIJ anticipates to award up to $3 million dollars for one or more awards. Applicants should base their federal funding request and period of performance on the actual requirements of the research, and not necessarily on the funding anticipated being available in FY 2017 to support this solicitation nor to fit within a three-year period of performance. All awards are subject to the availability of appropriated funds, and to any modifications or additional requirements that may be imposed by law.
Q-4: Are Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) eligible under this solicitation?
A: Yes. NIJ will accept applications from FFRDCs and National Laboratories.

Research on the Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of Elderly Individuals

Download the solicitation (pdf, 37 pages)

Q-1: For the purpose of this solicitation, what is the definition of an elderly individual?
A: Current awardees commonly use 60 or 65 as a benchmark. However, NIJ has no established age to be considered “elderly” and therefore applicants should specify the age range of those proposed, and include a justification.

FY 2017 DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction (CEBR) Program (Formula)

Download the solicitation (pdf, 39 pages)

On January 12, 2017, NIJ held a webinar to discuss this solicitation. The recording and transcript of that webinar include a question and answer period. View the video or read the transcript.

Q-1: Our lab would like to purchase a STaCS software tracking system to assist our lab in tracking the Sexual Assault Evidence Collection kits. Under which grant program would this purchase be allowed? of tracking software as an allowable cost – the DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction (CEBR) Program or the Forensic DNA Laboratory Efficiency Improvement and Capacity Enhancement Program. If Forensic DNA Laboratory Efficiency Improvement and Capacity Enhancement Program is appropriate, which of the four purposes would be the correct choice?
A: This purchase would be allowable under the Forensic DNA Laboratory Efficiency Improvement and Capacity Enhancement Program. Since this is a competitive solicitation, we cannot advise on which purpose area an applicant should apply under.

It would not be allowable under the DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction (CEBR) Program. That program allows for the purchase of DNA modules to existing LIMS. It also defines a “module” as "A sample/case tracking component separate from the laboratory’s LIMS that functions only for the purposes of the forensic biology/DNA unit." NOTE: The module may be a product of the same, or a different, vendor as the laboratory’s current LIMS." It is our understanding that the STACS system for SAKs is for use in all aspects of tracking including the police agency, hospital, and prosecutor’s office thus tracking the life of the SAK from collection to case disposition.

In the coming weeks NIJ anticipates the release of the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence – Inventory, Tracking, and Reporting (SAFE-ITR) Solicitation. The purchase would be allowable under this program. In the meantime, you may review last year’s version of the solicitation (pdf, 33 pages).
Q-2: Where can we can we locate the NDIS approved equipment list referenced in the solicitation?
A: NIJ does not have a “list” of equipment or supplies. All equipment and supplies used to generate CODIS eligible profiles must be validated and NDIS approved under the FBI’s Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories.
Q-3: Can outsourcing DNA casework to a vendor laboratory be handled through a procurement contract or if it requires a sub-award based? More specifically:
  • Does NIJ consider a vendor laboratory to be providing “some of the services the recipient has committed (to OJP) to provide” under the CEBR program – and therefore a sub-recipient?
  • Or is a vendor laboratory deemed to be providing a support service to the grant recipient – whose staff must still review the vendor’s data, issue reports to requesting law enforcement agencies, and enter resulting profiles into CODIS in order to fulfill its commitment to OJP under the CEBR program – and therefore truly a vendor whose services can be obtained with a procurement contract?
A: Based on the information you provided, the services of the laboratory would be viewed as a contract through procurement and not a sub award.
Q-4: There are multiple laboratories in our state that are eligible for funding. A few of those laboratories process the majority of the DNA cases submitted state wide. May we set a minimum funding amount lower than the $150,000 referenced in the solicitation to better meet the needs of the laboratories processing the majority of the cases?
A:It is up to the discretion of your state and its eligible agencies within the state to determine the amount of funding each eligible agency receives from the total allocation in Appendix A and how to determine those amounts. The minimum amount is a suggestion and not a mandate.
Q-5: Can we use funds under this solicitation to sustain current contracted employees that have been paid in prior years out federal grant funds?
A: All staff funded must be clearly linked to a planned annual reduction in the backlog or measurable capacity enhancement. In addition, the applicant should review Section 2.3 (Supplanting) in the 2015 DOJ Grants Financial Guide (pdf, 162 pages) to ensure they are compliant.
Q-6: Do the laboratories within our state have to come to agreement on funding levels for each lab? Who has the final say regarding the distribution of funds?
A: It is up to your state and its eligible agencies within the state to determine how much funding each eligible agency receives from the total allocation in Appendix A: (Estimated Aggregate Amounts Available for each State –FY 2017). The minimum is not a mandate, it is a suggestion. “NIJ expects applicants from States with multiple eligible applicants to coordinate among themselves to set a minimum level of funding for each applicant so that, if practicable, each eligible applicant within the State receives a minimum of $150,000, regardless of whether its proportion of available funding based on UCR Part 1 Violent Crimes, UCR Property Crimes, and population of the State reaches $150,000. No funding will be awarded unless an agreement is in place.

FY 2017 Forensic DNA Laboratory Efficiency Improvement and Capacity Enhancement Program

Regarding Purpose Areas

Since this is a competitive solicitation, we cannot advise under which of the four purpose areas you should apply.

Download the solicitation (pdf, 43 pages)

On January 12, 2017, NIJ held a webinar to discuss this solicitation. The recording and transcript of that webinar include a question and answer period. View the video or read the transcript.

Q-1: Our lab would like to purchase a STaCS software tracking system to assist our lab in tracking the Sexual Assault Evidence Collection kits. Under which grant program would this purchase be allowed? of tracking software as an allowable cost – the DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction (CEBR) Program or the Forensic DNA Laboratory Efficiency Improvement and Capacity Enhancement Program. If Forensic DNA Laboratory Efficiency Improvement and Capacity Enhancement Program is appropriate, which of the four purposes would be the correct choice?
A: This purchase would be allowable under the Forensic DNA Laboratory Efficiency Improvement and Capacity Enhancement Program. Since this is a competitive solicitation, we cannot advise on which purpose area an applicant should apply under.

It would not be allowable under the DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction (CEBR) Program. That program allows for the purchase of DNA modules to existing LIMS. It also defines a “module” as "A sample/case tracking component separate from the laboratory’s LIMS that functions only for the purposes of the forensic biology/DNA unit." NOTE: The module may be a product of the same, or a different, vendor as the laboratory’s current LIMS." It is our understanding that the STACS system for SAKs is for use in all aspects of tracking including the police agency, hospital, and prosecutor’s office thus tracking the life of the SAK from collection to case disposition.

In the coming weeks NIJ anticipates the release of the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence – Inventory, Tracking, and Reporting (SAFE-ITR) Solicitation. The purchase would be allowable under this program. In the meantime, you may review last year’s version of the solicitation (pdf, 33 pages).
Q-2: Will funds awarded under this solicitation cover warranty, service, or maintenance for equipment during the course of this award (3 years)?
A: The costs are allowable for the duration of the project period. It is up to the applicant to determine which purpose area their project fits under. Since this is a competitive solicitation NIJ is not allowed to assist in that determination.
Q-3: The solicitation states that we are required to receive advance authorization from the grant-making agency to purchase an item with a noncompetitive procurement. Do we need approval prior to submitting an application?
A: NIJ cannot approve expenditures in advance of application receipt and review; however, NIJ encourages submission of the sole source justification with the application package to facilitate a faster review and approval (if appropriate) of the applicant’s proposed budget, by NIJ.

Applicants considering procurement of goods or services through a sole source contract, as defined by the 2015 Department of Justice Financial Guide (Financial Guide), must clearly identify the proposed procurement in the budget detail worksheet and budget narrative submitted with the application. The application package should also include an independent document that justifies why a sole source procurement is necessary. More information about sole source procurements and justification requirements is available in Section 3.8 of the Financial Guide. Only strong sole source justifications will be approved.
Q-4: Can this funding be utilized for RFID under Purpose Area 2?
A: RFID is an allowable technology under this program. The applicant will need to determine the appropriate purpose area for their proposed project.

Research and Evaluation on Trafficking in Persons

Download the solicitation (pdf, 38 pages)

Q-1:Would applying the same methodology as a prior funded award to a new population count be considered a "replication" study in context of the following statement from the solicitation:
"NIJ will take into consideration to what extent applicants demonstrate that their proposals do not replicate existing or published research on trafficking issues, and NIJ will coordinate with other federal agencies to ensure that an award does not substantially duplicate existing studies."
A: Applying a methodology that has been used in one population to a new population is not considered a replication. However, should other elements of the design replicate the initial study (e.g., sampling plan, instrument), NIJ will take into consideration to what extent the proposal is considered a replication.
Q-2: How is funding distributed? Our organization does not have floating capital so we usually require advanced funding for 90 days. Is this possible?
A: Grant recipients typically draw funds awarded under this program on a reimbursement basis; however, advance drawdowns are allowed and must be spent within 10 days of receipt. It is important to note that grant recipients may not expend, obligate, or draw funds until the legal conditions of the award are met, regardless of the project start date. While NIJ typically does not approve pre-award cost proposals, the applicant may include a proposal for pre-award costs in the application package. Please visit the DOJ Financial Guide for further information on how DOJ grant recipients must manage and account for pre-award costs and what a pre-award cost justification should include.
Q-3: Are FFRDC’s eligible to apply for funding under this program?
A: Each individual FFRDC must determine whether its policies (or that of its federal sponsor) permit the FFRDC to accept funding from other federal agencies by way of a federal grant award. Should these governing policies permit the FFRDC in question to accept and administer grant funding from other agencies, as a recipient, the FFRDC may accordingly apply to this solicitation as its private sector entity type – as allowed under this solicitation – or can receive funds (as a subrecipient) through its private-sector administering entity – as allowed under this solicitation.
Q-4: Are federal agencies eligible to apply for funding under this program?
A: No, applications from federal agencies will not be considered for funding under this solicitation.

Graduate Research Fellowship in Social and Behavioral Sciences

See also Q&As from two FY 17 funding webinars:

Download the solicitation (pdf, 35 pages)

Q-1: Do students have to have completed required coursework before applying?
A: No. However, the student must complete required coursework before an award can be made.
Q-2: Is the fellowship open to international students?
A: The official applicant to the GRF solicitation is a degree-granting academic institution in the United States and its territories. Universities may submit applications on behalf of international students. There is no requirement as to the citizenship of the student, but any student must be currently enrolled in a qualifying PhD program at a U.S. university at the time of application.

Applicants are encouraged to review the solicitation. Please note in particular, on page 4 of the solicitation that, “Applicant academic institutions sponsoring doctoral students are eligible to apply only if: 1. The doctoral student’s degree program is in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) discipline: and 2. The student’s proposed dissertation research has demonstrable implications for addressing the challenges of crime, and/or the fair and impartial administration of criminal justice in the United States.”
Q-3: The fellowship requires that the topic proposed for the grant be substantively the same as that approved and pursued for the student's dissertation. In my department, dissertations consider three separate studies that are all connected by a common theme. Thus, the project I would propose for a NIJ GRF would be one of those three. Would this be acceptable for the fellowship?
A: Yes.
Q-4: The data I will be using was collected by under a different PI (my chair) and that persons name is listed on the IRB paperwork. Can I still state in my application that I will be the PI of the study although the IRB paperwork does not list me as the PI?
A: The chair of the dissertation may be listed as the PI on the IRB paperwork.
Q-5: Is there a particular person to whom the letter from my chair should be addressed?
A: There is no set person to whom the letter should be addressed. You may use To Whom it May Concern” or “NIJ GRF Selection Committee.”
Q-6: The link to the form provided on page 16 of the solicitation does not seem like it fits with the information required in the solicitation. The student currently has a list of the dissertation committee and their contact information. Is it necessary that he puts in the form provided by the link in the solicitation?
A: The list is used for other solicitation so that is why it may not appear to be specifically tailored to the GRF. We understand that the form does not have all the necessary cells to capture the requested contact information of the committee members so we cast that applicants add these additional columns to the template.
Q-7: The solicitation indicates that no indirect cost or administrative fees are permitted. As we have a federally negotiated indirect cost rate, per the Uniform Guidance under 2 CFR § 200.414, for a federal agency not to apply an entity's federally negotiated indirect cost rate it must cite a statute or regulation which states that the agency cannot apply the federally negotiated indirect cost rate, or it cannot be applied for the particular program. As the solicitation does not include this information, I am reaching out to you for the reference. 
A: Thank you for your inquiry. NIJ’s grant funds under its Graduate Research Fellowship program to university-sponsors of doctoral candidate fellows to conduct criminal justice research, as stated in the published program solicitation, do not fund administrative expenses or indirect costs of the institutional applicant. (Individual awards under this program are for only up to $32,000 each for a project period of 12 months.) Consistent with the Part 200 Uniform Requirements (2 CFR Part 200, adopted with modifications as a DOJ regulation by 2 CFR 2800) as set out at 2 CFR § 200.306(c) and with NIJ’s applicable authority at 42 U.S.C. 3723, however, NIJ would consider requests from an applicant to treat unrecovered indirect costs, if any, as cost sharing or match under the award.

Graduate Research Fellowship in Program in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

See also Q&As from two FY 17 funding webinars:

Download the solicitation (pdf, 34 pages)

Q-1: Is the fellowship open to international students?
A: The official applicant to the GRF solicitation is a degree-granting academic institution in the United States and its territories. Universities may submit applications on behalf of international students. There is no requirement as to the citizenship of the student, but any student must be currently enrolled in a qualifying PhD program at a U.S. university at the time of application.

Applicants are encouraged to review the solicitation. Please note in particular, on page 4 of the solicitation that, “Applicant academic institutions sponsoring doctoral students are eligible to apply only if: 1. The doctoral student’s degree program is in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) discipline: and 2. The student’s proposed dissertation research has demonstrable implications for addressing the challenges of crime, and/or the fair and impartial administration of criminal justice in the United States.”
Q-2 I currently have another fellowship but would like to apply for the Graduate Research Fellowship. Will this my existing fellowship count points against me in successfully winning the GRF?
A: All applications are reviewed on their merits based on the criteria identified in section E. Application Review of the solicitation (see the Selection Criteria, p. 27). Should you decide to submit an application, please note in particular the following requirements:
  • A list of other agencies, organizations, or funding sources to which this application has been submitted, including, but not limited to, other fellowships that the doctoral student has received and the dates during which those fellowships will be active (if applicable) (p. 16)
  • NIJ may take into consideration (p. 29) “… available funding… as well as the extent to which the budget detail worksheet and budget narrative accurately explain project costs that are reasonable, necessary, and otherwise allowable under federal law and applicable federal cost principles.” Applicants are encouraged to include in their budget all budget items that are necessary and allowable (up to the $35,000/$15,000 limits) to support themselves and their research during the fellowship term. Submitting a low fellowship budget request does not confer competitive advantage. If another fellowship is to be held concurrently, and NIJ determines that a reduction in NIJ support is appropriate, a revised budget may be requested at the time an award is offered.
Q-3: If I have other funding for my research, when constructing my budget should I ask for the full $35,000 amount or deduct the amount of my existing funding?
A: All applications are reviewed on their merits based on the criteria identified in section E. Application Review of the solicitation (see the Selection Criteria, p. 27). Should you decide to submit an application, please note in particular the following requirements:
  • A list of other agencies, organizations, or funding sources to which this application has been submitted, including, but not limited to, other fellowships that the doctoral student has received and the dates during which those fellowships will be active (if applicable) (p. 16)
  • NIJ may take into consideration (p. 29) “… available funding… as well as the extent to which the budget detail worksheet and budget narrative accurately explain project costs that are reasonable, necessary, and otherwise allowable under federal law and applicable federal cost principles.” Applicants are encouraged to include in their budget all budget items that are necessary and allowable (up to the $35,000/$15,000 limits) to support themselves and their research during the fellowship term. Submitting a low fellowship budget request does not confer competitive advantage. If another fellowship is to be held concurrently, and NIJ determines that a reduction in NIJ support is appropriate, a revised budget may be requested at the time an award is offered.
Q-4: If I plan on having the grant for two years should I make a budget for two years or for one? My narrative and research timeline are both for two years.
A: Per the solicitation, your budget narrative and budget detail worksheet should reflect the entire proposed project timeline of up to three years, in discrete 12-month increments. However, the Application for Federal Assistance (SF-424) should only reflect the first 12-months funding requirement.
Q-5: The budget form states that "Indirect costs are allowed if the applicant has a Federally approved indirect cost rate" while the solicitation states that "Indirect costs are not allowed under this solicitation"; are Indirect Costs allowed on this since we have a NICRA or not?
A: Direct or indirect administrative or management costs of the applicant university are not allowed under the GRF-STEM program.
Q-6: Can the applicant also include relocation expenses in this grant. For example, if the applicant cannot reside in the housing units provided by the University can they include their relocation and housing expenses along with monthly food budget in this grant?
A: According to the solicitation (p. 8): “Each year of support… includes a $35,000 allowance usable toward a salary/stipend for the student and related costs, and up to $15,000 to cover the student’s tuition and fees, research expenses, and related costs. The $35,000 allowance for salary/stipend and related costs may include fringe benefits (if applicable) and health insurance, at the applicant institution’s discretion. Under this solicitation, research expenses and related costs may include any combination of the doctoral student’s tuition, student fees, project costs, professional society membership fees, or conference travel, among other allowed expenses…”

The $35,000 student stipend allowance is intended for the financial support of the student during the fellowship term, in the manner of a salary. It may be used at the student’s discretion, provided the use conforms to university policy. The $15,000 research expenses portion is intended to directly facilitate the student’s research and academic/professional activities. Students are encouraged to work with their university to draft a budget that conforms to the requirements of the solicitation and university policy, while meeting the student’s personal and research-related needs.
Q-7: Can the student's tuition costs be divided up between the "Student Salary and Related Costs" and the "Tuition and Fees, Research Expenses and Related Costs"? Our students salary and fringe benefits equal just over $25k with tuition costs being just over $11k annually and we'd like to keep as much of the funds for the "Research Expenses and Related Costs" as possible for other project costs.
A: See the solicitation for allowable costs under the $35,000 and $15,000 budget allowances (p. 8): 
Each year of support… includes a $35,000 allowance usable toward a salary/stipend for the student and related costs, and up to $15,000 to cover the student’s tuition and fees, research expenses, and related costs. The $35,000 allowance for salary/stipend and related costs may include fringe benefits (if applicable) and health insurance, at the applicant institution’s discretion. Under this solicitation, research expenses and related costs may include any combination of the doctoral student’s tuition, student fees, project costs, professional society membership fees, or conference travel, among other allowed expenses during the award period of performance (see complete Budget Information, including “What will not be funded”).
The $35,000/$15,000 budget allowances are separate categories supporting separate costs which are generally mutually exclusive. The applicant may request allowable costs under each budget allowance up to the maximum amount of each allowance separately. Concerning the use of the $35,000 salary/stipend allowance, the solicitation (p. 17) also notes that:
Where possible in accordance with institutional policy, academic institutions should account for the full amount of $35,000 when justifying the personnel expenses of the doctoral student.
Q-8: The solicitation indicates that no indirect cost or administrative fees are permitted. As we have a federally negotiated indirect cost rate, per the Uniform Guidance under 2 CFR § 200.414, for a federal agency not to apply an entity's federally negotiated indirect cost rate it must cite a statute or regulation which states that the agency cannot apply the federally negotiated indirect cost rate, or it cannot be applied for the particular program. As the solicitation does not include this information, I am reaching out to you for the reference. 
A: Thank you for your inquiry. NIJ’s grant funds under its Graduate Research Fellowship program to university-sponsors of doctoral candidate fellows to conduct criminal justice research, as stated in the published program solicitation, do not fund administrative expenses or indirect costs of the institutional applicant. (Individual awards under this program are for only up to $32,000 each for a project period of 12 months.) Consistent with the Part 200 Uniform Requirements (2 CFR Part 200, adopted with modifications as a DOJ regulation by 2 CFR 2800) as set out at 2 CFR § 200.306(c) and with NIJ’s applicable authority at 42 U.S.C. 3723, however, NIJ would consider requests from an applicant to treat unrecovered indirect costs, if any, as cost sharing or match under the award.

Submit a Question

Because most solicitations are competitive, we cannot have individual conversations concerning the solicitation with prospective applicants. Any questions concerning the solicitation should be submitted to the NCJRS Response Center.

Review general funding Q&As from NIJ.

See Q&As from past year solicitations.

Date Modified: April 19, 2017