OVW’s top priority is to save lives by ensuring that victims receive the services and protection they need. OVW’s small, dedicated team cares profoundly about these issues and about seeing the dollars spent well. We see how VAWA funds save lives around the country, so we know how precious they are.
Congress and OVW’s stakeholders – from law enforcement to victim service providers to state governments – have asked OVW to get grants out earlier, launch the new VAWA programs, keep stable funding for the field, improve customer service, and provide the in-depth grant management that helps grantees succeed. In addition, Congress has asked OVW to focus on good governance, enhanced monitoring, and increased accountability.
To accomplish all this in today’s difficult fiscal climate, OVW had to get creative and make trade-offs for FY 14 that increase efficiency without compromising victim services. We worked long and hard to find the best approach for the field – from shelters to law enforcement offices – that would most support victims. OVW’s solution is to streamline the grant competition process, and will change the pool of eligible applicants for many FY 14 grants.
In FY 14, OVW is implementing many new VAWA changes:
- Instituting new statutory requirements across many programs, including STOP Violence Against Women Program and Sexual Assault Services Program formula grants to states and territories
- Implementing new 25% sexual assault requirement in Grants to Encourage Arrest Program, and legal services purpose area in Rural Grant Program
- Launching initial phases of the new VAWA Justice for Families Program and the Outreach and Services to Underserved Populations Program
- Establishing Tribal Coalitions Grants as a formula program
- Providing guidance on new civil rights provisions
- Conducting conferrals and listening sessions
- Adopting strengthened accountability provisions
Every VAWA grant program is different, but many OVW solicitations will focus on continuation applicants. In some programs, there will be a targeted competition, or eligibility will be limited for a portion of the funds. A chart of grant program eligibility is available online at http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/open-solicitations.htm#proposed.
We know these changes will cause some confusion, and we want to work to minimize them. Some of you have been asking OVW to do more continuation awards, while others were looking forward to the opportunity to compete for a particular grant. OVW has only partially limited eligibility for FY 14 grant programs, and we believe full competition is important. OVW plans to resume competitions for all VAWA programs when prudent management will allow.
Issuing solicitations with these changes in eligibility provides continued funding to serve victims and prevent violence, responds to requests from the field to keep funding stable and improve customer service, and frees up enough OVW staff time to conduct proper management and monitoring. For the good of victims, DOJ stakeholders, and taxpayers, OVW had to make these tough choices.
We want to emphasize that all grantees that will receive an invitation to apply for those programs that are being administered on a “continuation only” basis have previously competed successfully for funding in that program. All applicants will be subject to a programmatic review to ensure that their project meets the statutory scope of the program; assess their past performance, including compliance with audit findings; and ensure that proposed activities do not compromise victim safety. In addition, because of uncertain funding levels in FY 14, many – and possibly all – grants that are “continuation only” will still be competitive.
We want to answer your questions and give you the information you need to plan for FY 14. OVW will host a Q&A session via webinar on Thursday, December 19, at 4pm eastern. Go to http://ta2ta.org/events/webinars/fy14-grant-solicitation.html to register for the webinar.
Thank you for the hard work you are doing every day in this challenging economic climate.