Grant Information

Reeling in the Grant Funds

"This important operation has the full support of management.as long as the funding is available."  This funding caveat exists in nearly all operations.  Technical surveillance assignments cannot proceed without funding, but tech equipment can be costly.  Fortunately, assistance for those in need of funds for technical surveillance equipment is available from several sources.

"Show me the money!"

Grant funding is available from many sources.  Managers and administrators should be aware of the various avenues available to obtain personnel and equipment.  All of the following potential funding sources are easily found on the Internet.  These sources include:

The National Criminal Justice Reference Service found on the Web at http://www.ncjrs.org/fedgrant.html

The Department of Justice National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center located at www.nlectc.org/.

The National Institute of Justice, Funding Opportunities www.ojp.usdoj.gov/cmrc/funding/welcome.html

"Information Sharing to Prevent Juvenile Delinquency: A Training and Technical Assistance Approach."  This document is found at http://www.ncjrs.org/fedgrant.html

The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs on the Web at www.register.aspensys.com/~emclaugh/bja/about/index.html.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance Web site at http://www.ncjrs.org/txtfiles1/fs000242.txt

The Commerce Business Daily, Department of Commerce, at http://cbdnet.gpo.gov/.

The Federal Register, which is found on the Web at www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aces140.html.

"Funding Sources: Grants for non-profits or individuals."  This document is found at www.lib.msu.edu/harris23/grants/grants.htm.

Each of these Web sites provides links and guidance to help law enforcement agencies successfully complete a grant request.

Grant writing: step by step

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Web site, at www.epa.gov/seahome/grants/src/msieopen.htm, contains an excellent step-by-step guide to developing a grant proposal.  The site provides useful information and guidance for applying for all types of grants.  The following steps are taken from the EPS's grant writing recommendations and are combined with additional information to help law enforcement tailor a grant request to include technical surveillance equipment.

Proposal summary.  The proposal summary, which takes the form of a cover letter, is one or two paragraphs that list the key points of the grant request.  It should be clear and concise.  Regarding the technical surveillance equipment part of the request, the cover letter should justify the purchase.  For example, the request might state:  "The requested technical surveillance equipment will enhance our ability to investigate crimes related to the grant request."

Agency introduction.  This section of the grant request describes past, present and projected operations of the agency relevant to the grant.  This is an opportunity to paint a positive picture of the requesting agency.  The introduction should include a biography of key persons who are involved in the grant.  Also included in this section are a department's organizational goals, philosophy and record with other grantors.  Success stories regarding other grant-funded projects also should be included.  When requesting funds for technical equipment, it is important for a requesting agency to explain how officers are already successfully using the technology.  In total, the introduction should briefly describe who, what, why, when, and how much money is requested.

Problem statement, needs assessment.  This section describes the reason why the grant is required and should include statistics that support the need and relate the requested tech equipment to the overall mission of the agency.  For example, technical surveillance equipment, such as a covert transmitter, improves communications during undercover operations.  Improved communications results in better evidence collection and enhances safety to officers involved. Better evidence collection can result in fewer trials.  Suspects often plead guilty instead of risking the damning taped evidence appearing in open court.  Guilty pleas save court costs.  Additionally, video and audio equipment improves the ability to supervise undercover operations in the field.

The grant writer should confer with technical surveillance staff prior to completion of this section of the grant.   Needed tech equipment is sometimes overlooked because grant writers do not discuss equipment needs with technical surveillance personnel.

Training videos - Grants

"Introduction to Grant Funding," produced by the Nonprofit Resource Center in 1993.  The 12 ½ minute videotape details grant funding realities that will help law enforcement agencies understand who gives and who gets grants.  The topics covered in the video include who gets grants, where grants fit in a fund development plan, the four sources for grants, the key elements to consider in a search for funds, and a winning formula for success.  To obtain a copy of the videotape, visit: www.lib.msu.edu/harris23/grants/4fcvideo.htm.

"Making the Dream Fly," a Wehman Video produced in 1996.  Several experts from the field of fundraising share their secrets for success on this videotape.  The introduction to fundraising covers key topics such as team building and proposal writing.  A 17-page workbook highlights key points.  Call 800-659-1553 to order a copy.

"In Search of Funding," produced by Denise Wallen in Albuqerque, New Mexico, for KNME-TV for UNM's Office of Research Administration in 1990.  The 30-minute videotape covers tips for developing fundable projects, strategies to improve the chances of success, how to avoid common pitfalls, and how to find and deal with funding agencies.  For more information visit: www.lib.msu.edu/harris23/grants/4fcvideo.htm.

"Grant your wish.  Learn from the professionals how to craft a successful grant proposal."  This 30-minute videotape, produced by Successful Images Inc. in cooperation with the Florida Association of Nonprofit Organizations Inc., includes information on the 12 key elements of a proposal, one absolute don't in writing a proposal, why some proposals get funded and others do not, how to create a budget and where to get a list of funding sources.  To obtain a copy, see www.lib.msu.edu/harris23/grants/4fcvideo.htm.

Project objectives.  The project objectives section describes the expected result of the grant funding.  Objectives are specific, measurable outcomes - realistic and obtainable.  Check the objectives in this part of the request against objectives desired by the grant advertisement.  Be sure the objectives listed match the grant requirements.  An example of an objective that includes tech equipment might be a statement that officers will collect overt audio or videotaped evidence to support the investigations whenever possible.

Project methods or design.  This section outlines the tasks that will be accomplished.  References to technical surveillance equipment can be included in this area.  The methods sections can be structured as a timeline with projected beginning and end dates assigned to individual tasks.  This section is used to describe why individual methods or designs were selected.

Project evaluation.  This portion of the grant request describes the criteria the agency will use to measure progress toward project goals.  This section details how the agency plans to determine its success.  Keep in mind that evaluation is an ongoing process that begins as soon as the department receives the grant.  Many grants require guarantees to submit monthly progress reports. Tracking the use of tech equipment also is a good way to justify its purchase.

Future funding.  This section describes how the project will be funded in the future.  When other funds will supplement or match the requested grant funds, it shows good faith on the part of the requesting agency.  This section describes who will maintain the equipment and conduct future training for equipment users.  In most cases the agency being funded will pick up these costs and responsibilities after the grant expires.

Project budget.  The project budget can be a line-item list of predicted expense.  The projected budget should include the following items:

Personnel expenses.  If positions are being added or created, this section should describe all salaries and benefits associated with the positions.  If an agency has a healthy supply of tech equipment, a civilian technician with advanced electronics skills should be considered.

Travel and training.  Sophisticated tech equipment, like the spectrum analyzers used in countermeasures work, require training.  Remember to include training costs in all grant requests.

Equipment. Confer with technical surveillance staff and undercover officers to determine how tech equipment might be applied within the grant.  There are many reputable vendors of tech equipment.  The National Technical Investigators Association (NATIA) hosts an annual trade show for vendors of tech equipment, and the local NATIA, chapter can provide important contact information regarding tech equipment.  To learn more about NATIA, visit its web site at http://www.natia.org/home.htm

Supplies.  Supplies might include batteries, audio and videotapes.  Most tech equipment requires an AC or DC power source.  For officer safety reasons, batteries for disguise transmitters are never re-used, so make sure to budget for a healthy supply of them.

Contract costs.  If the grant requires any special contractual arrangement, include these in the budget section.  Some vendors of tech equipment have leasing programs.  If an agency doesn't wish to purchase a high-dollar tech item, leasing may be a viable option.

Appendices.  The appendices section includes reference information of importance to the reviewer.  This can include the resumes of persons involved with the grant and letters of support or endorsement from influential individuals.  Letters from prosecutors stating the importance of audio and video evidence collection might help justify tech equipment expenses.  Vendors of tech equipment can provide referrals to law enforcement agencies who have successfully used the equipment to investigate crimes related to the grant.

Justifying the need

Specific items of tech equipment can be justified in various ways.  Requests for tech equipment should answer the following questions:

1)      What is the item of equipment and how much does it cost?

2)      Why is the equipment required?

3)      Who will operate and maintain the equipment?

4)      How will the equipment improve the operation?

5)      What is the result of not funding the equipment?

For example, if a department wishes to purchase a disguise transmitter, body-wire/receivers and repeaters, the justification might point out that:

The technology enhances officer safety by permitting undercover officers to communicate with cover officers.

It allows conversations to be recorded, permitting the collection of important audio evidence.

It permits improved supervision and oversight of undercover operations by allowing monitoring while the operation is in progress.

Not funding the request reduces the ability of the department to monitor undercover transactions, reduces officer safety, and results in the reliance on the recollection of conversations for court testimony.

Pointing out the risks involved without this funding provides ample justification for most types of tech equipment.

Government programs

Three government programs exist to help law enforcement obtain specialized equipment.  The programs are known as 1033, Surplus Property Donation, and 1122.

The 1033 program allows the transfer, without charge, of excess U.S. Department of Defense supplies and equipment to state and local law enforcement.  In the past, agencies have received vehicles, weapons, ammunition, computer equipment, body armor, night vision, radios and photographic equipment through this program.  The property must be picked up at a location designated by the program's administrators.  Further information on the 1033 program can be found at www.nlectc.org/.

Each state has an agency for surplus federal property.  These agencies were established to receive federal surplus property and to donate it to public agencies.  The goal of the Surplus Property Donation program is to save taxpayer dollars by extending the life of federal excess/surplus property.  In the Surplus Property Donation program, the recipient agency is charged a processing fee up to 10 percent of the acquisition cost of the surplus property.  Transportation of the property to the recipient agency is handled by the program's administrators.  Past examples of property donated through this program include an emergency generator that was donated to a correctional facility in Arkansas, and 40,000 yards of white sailcloth that was converted into prisoner clothing and sheets for a state prison.  A listing of state agencies and representatives for surplus property can be found on the Web at www.nasasp.state.ut.us/sasps.htm.

The 1122 program allows an agency to purchase equipment for counter-drug activities with the discounts received in federal government contracts.  The program is administered through the Department of the Army and the Defense Logistics Agency, and product pricing is contained in the Law Enforcement Equipment and Supply Catalog.  For more information, visit www.dscr.dla.mil/products/law/lawcat.htm.

Obtaining the funds to purchase and support technical surveillance equipment is an important challenge.  Fortunately, a variety of resources exist to help agencies obtain the funds and equipment to support tech operations.

Notes: This story is supplied courtesy of Law Enforcement Magazine. It is copyright Law Enforcement Magazine and used here with permission.