Senate Appropriations Committee Issues Report on Departments of Commerce, Justice, Science, Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2018 (Part 5 of 7)
Targeted News Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 -- The Senate Appropriations Committee issued a report (S.Rpt. 115-139) on legislation (S. 1662) making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018. The report was advanced by Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., on July 27.
1The total $420,178,000 of fiscal year 2017 appropriations for this account included $239,178,000 in direct appropriations and $181,000,000 derived by transfer from the Department of Justice'sWorking Capital Fund.
The Committee's recommendation provides $155,000,000 for FBI construction. The recommendation is $265,178,000 below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $103,105,000 above the budget request.
FBI Headquarters Consolidation.--The Committee is disappointed with the Administration's July 11, 2017, decision to cancel the procurement for the new FBI headquarters consolidation project. The Administration cited financial concerns as the underlying reason for the cancelation despite the fact that in fiscal year 2017 Congress committed to moving forward with additional appropriations for the new facility in fiscal year 2018. Congress endorsed the project and was willing to work with the FBI and the General Services Administration to explore financial solutions to make the project a success, whereas the Administration failed to adapt to the reality that securing $1,405,000,000 in a single fiscal year in this financial environment was simply unattainable. Rather than adjust, the Administration abandoned a 10-year planning process, and now the FBI is left with no plan for a new procurement and no path forward on how to make its currently deteriorating headquarters facility structurally sustainable.
Within 30 days of enactment of this act, the FBI shall provide the Committee with a report on: the plan for consolidating into a new headquarters facility; the necessary FBI employees that are currently dispersed between the J. Edgar Hoover building and approximately 13 leased offices in the National Capital region; a justification for the project's cancellation; the scope and cost for keeping the current FBI headquarters operational until a move occurs; and a justification for how the fiscal year 2017 funding appropriated for the new headquarters will be spent.
21st Century Facilities.--The Committee continues to support the FBI's long-term vision for improving its operations that compliments the eventual transition into a new headquarters and takes into consideration its changing footprint at Quantico. The recent decision to cancel the procurement for the new FBI headquarters consolidation project only exacerbates the need to secure viable space for supporting a variety of missions, workforce, and land requirements. The Committee recommendation provides $103,000,000 to further support the FBI's 21st Century Facility plans to better leverage current agency investments in the co-location of TEDAC, HDS, and Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate explosives-related training operations. As part of this 21st Century Planning, the FBI should consider public-private partnership opportunities, provided that the annual lease and operating costs are reasonable and the facilities can be securely constructed and maintained at a level that meets the FBI's requirements.
The Committee's recommendation provides total resources of $2,535,351,000 for the Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA], of which $419,574,000 is derived from the DEA's Diversion Control Fee Account [DCFA]. The recommendation is $49,713,000 above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $48,274,000 below the budget request. Within the funds provided, $10,000,000 is for assistance to State and local law enforcement for proper removal and disposal of hazardous materials at clandestine methamphetamine labs, and to initiate container programs.
The DEA's mission is to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States--or any other competent jurisdiction--those organizations and principal members of organizations involved in the growing, manufacturing, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States; and to support non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on the domestic and international markets.
DCFA Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys.--While the Committee strongly supports efforts to fight the heroin and illegal opioid epidemic, it does not approve of DEA using DCFA funding for the use of Special U.S. Attorneys. Rather than creating a new prosecutorial force within DEA, a function that is outside of DEA's mission, the Committee believes the proper prosecutorial channel for cases involving over-prescription and illegal diversion is through EOUSA.
Drug Diversion at Veterans Health Administration Facilities.--The Committee remains alarmed by the rates of prescription drug opioid abuse and related overdoses among veterans, as well as allegations of diversion of prescription opioids from Veterans Health Administration [VHA] facilities into the illicit drug market. According to a February 2017 Government Accountability Office report, the oversight of controlled substances within VHA remains a significant problem. That VHA facilities continue to be a source for the illicit distribution and use of opioids is extremely concerning, and the Committee directs the DEA to ensure that investigations of drug diversion in VHA facilities remain a priority. As stated in Senate Reports 114-66 and 114-239, the Committee continues to expect the DEA to take steps to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated for investigations of drug diversion at VHA facilities.
Pending Applications.--The Committee is concerned with the delay in DEA's consideration of applications filed pursuant to 21 CFR Part 1301 and directs DEA to move expeditiously to resolve pending applications.
Cooperation with State and Local Forensic Crime Laboratory Community.--The Committee encourages the DEA to collaborate and share any available resources with State and local forensic crime laboratories in their critical efforts to combat the growing use of synthetic drugs.
Cybersecurity.--Within the funding provided, the Committee does not support the proposed funding cuts to cybersecurity activities at DEA and instead provides no less than the fiscal year 2017 level of $30,750,000.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
The Committee's recommendation provides $1,273,776,000 for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF]. The recommendation is $15,176,000 above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and equal to the budget request. ATF has diverse law enforcement responsibilities, and the funding increase is provided to allow ATF to carry out these duties and to fill existing positions that are currently vacant.
ATF reduces the criminal use of firearms and illegal firearms trafficking, and assists other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in reducing crime and violence. ATF investigates bombing and arson incidents and assists with improving public safety by reducing the criminal misuse of and trafficking in explosives, combating acts of arson and arson- for-profit schemes, and removing safety hazards caused by improper and unsafe storage of explosive materials.
Combating Gun Violence and Enforcing Existing Gun Laws.-- The Committee's recommendation maintains ATF's ability to enforce existing firearms laws and perform regulatory oversight and training, including through the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network [NIBIN]. This funding will enable ATF to continue to collect, report, and share ballistic intelligence with Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement partners to identify, target, and disrupt violent criminals, including serial shooters. Funds will support work with State and local law enforcement agencies and laboratories to collect ballistic hit information to provide leads to Firearms Intelligence Groups for investigations and document successful prosecutions as a result of NIBIN.
United States-Mexico Firearms Trafficking.--The Committee continues to support the ATF's efforts to combat weapon trafficking on the border. The ATF shall continue to provide the Committee with annual data on the total number of firearms recovered by the Government of Mexico, and of those, the number for which an ATF trace is attempted, the number successfully traced, and the number determined to have originated in the United States prior to being recovered in Mexico.
National Center for Explosives Training and Research [NCETR].--The Committee supports the enhancements at NCETR, including additional advanced explosives disposal techniques courses for public safety bomb technicians. Given that NCETR serves as the Bureau's Center of Excellence for arson and explosives training, the Committee supports co-locating the Bureau's canine training operations for explosives and accelerant detection at NCETR in fiscal year 2018 and directs ATF to provide details on the merger as part of the Department's spending plan. The Committee also supports NCETR's research expertise and encourages further investigations into the functions and effects of explosive devices in order to better exploit design weaknesses. Within the increased funds provided for ATF in fiscal year 2018, up to $2,500,000 may be made available for an advanced counter explosive device research program focusing on hypervelocity impact and hypervelocity flight dynamics.
The Committee's recommendation provides $7,080,248,000 for Bureau of Prisons [BOP] salaries and expenses. The recommendation is $71,448,000 above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $5,000,000 below the budget request. The Committee supports the Department's request to increase funding for BOP's cybersecurity, including improving network defenses and mitigating insider threats.
BOP Hiring.--The Committee is concerned that the Department has maintained the January 20, 2017, Federal Government hiring freeze for BOP when the Department has since lifted the moratorium for other DOJ agencies. The inmate to correctional officer ratio is currently 8.3 to 1, a level that is unsafe for staff and should immediately be corrected. The Committee urges DOJ to revise this policy to ensure BOP is able to appropriately staff its facilities across the United States, particularly hiring of correctional officers at medium- and high-security facilities without being hindered by an arbitrary staffing level.
Augmentation.--While BOP reports that there is a higher incidence of serious assaults by inmates on staff at high- and medium-security institutions than at the lower security facilities, to meet staffing needs, the BOP still routinely uses a process called "augmentation", whereby a non-custody employee is assigned custody responsibilities. The Committee directs the BOP to curtail its overreliance on augmentation and instead hire additional full-time correctional staff before continuing to augment existing staff. BOP is further directed to submit quarterly reports to the Committee on the inmate-to- correctional officer ratios at each facility.
Alleviating Overcrowding at High-Security Facilities.--The overcrowding rate at high-security prisons remains high at 25 percent. The Committee supports BOP's efforts to alleviate overcrowding at high-security facilities through the process of activating additional prisons. The Committee expects BOP to adhere to the activation schedule included in BOP's budget submission regarding these prison facilities, including the acceptance of high-security inmates at the United States Penitentiary [USP] in Thomson, Illinois, as BOP estimates overcrowding at high-security facilities to be reduced to 19 percent with the full opening of USP Thomson.
Medication-Assisted Treatment Expansion.--The Committee directs that no less than the fiscal year 2017 level be provided for BOP to continue the medication-assisted treatment program for inmates with heroin and opioid addiction. This voluntary pilot program treats approximately 200 inmates in residential reentry centers. The Department is directed to immediately assist BOP with fully staffing this program for its expansion into the Northeast Region.
Federal Detainers.--In an effort to ensure that criminal aliens are not improperly released into our communities, the Committee directs BOP to offer Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] the first opportunity to take into custody and remove an individual with a Federal detainer instead of BOP and ICE automatically deferring to States and municipalities who are seeking custody of the same individual. ICE's decision to exercise this right of first refusal with BOP will be informed, in part, by the State or municipality's willingness to cooperate with Federal authorities on ICE detainers.
Compassionate Release.--The Committee notes that BOP expanded the grounds for and streamlined the process of considering requests for compassionate release in 2013. The Committee is also aware that the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General [OIG] recommended additional reforms to the compassionate release program in a 2013 review of the program. In 2016, the U.S. Sentencing Commission [USSC] amended the criteria for compassionate release and encouraged BOP to file a motion for those prisoners who meet the criteria the Commission identified.
Within 60 days of enactment of this act, the Committee directs BOP to submit to the Committee the following: (1) any steps taken by BOP to implement the OIG and USSC's recommendations; (2) for those recommendations not met, BOP's plan for meeting them or reasons why they cannot be implemented; (3) the number of prisoners granted and denied compassionate release during each of the last 5 years; (4) for each year, the number of requests initiated by or on behalf of prisoners, categorized by the criteria relied on as grounds for a reduction in sentence; (5) for each year, the number of requests approved by the Director of the BOP, categorized by the criteria relied on as grounds for a reduction in sentence; (6) for each year, the number of denials by the Director of the BOP, categorized by the criteria relied on as grounds for a reduction in sentence and the reason given for the denial; (7) for each year, the time elapsed between the date the request was received by the warden and the final decision, categorized by the criteria relied on as grounds for a reduction in sentence; and (8) for each year, the number of prisoners who died while their compassionate release requests were pending and, for each, the amount of time that had elapsed between the date the request was received by the warden.
BOP Contract Prisons.--In August 2016, the OIG issued "Review of the Federal Bureau of Prisons Monitoring of Contract Prisons." The report found, "that in a majority of the categories we examined, contract prisons incurred more safety and security incidents per capita than comparable BOP institutions" and "that the BOP needs to improve the way it monitors contract prisons." For example, none of BOP's procedures for monitoring contract compliance with regard to health services measured whether inmates actually received basic medical care. The OIG cited numerous incidents and made four recommendations to improve monitoring and oversight of contract prisons.
Within 90 days of enactment of this act, BOP is directed to provide a report to the Committee describing BOP's use of contract facilities for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. The report shall include the number of contract facilities utilized by BOP, to include the companies providing these services, the status of these contracts explaining any terminations or renewals during the periods under review, and compliance status of any remedial or corrective actions recommended by BOP or OIG for each company and contract; details of inspections, evaluations, or incident reports, including the number of safety and security incidents at each facility, whether these incidents resulted in injury or death, and any evaluations of incidents conducted in response to the OIG recommendation, issued by BOP or OIG regarding any of these facilities during the period under review, including a current analysis of the condition of each facility under contract and whether BOP believes that such facilities remain suitable for use; the percentage of both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals housed in each facility; verification of whether each facility is providing basic medical services such as medical exams and immunizations; verification of actual correctional officer staffing levels as compared to contracted levels; a detailed accounting of the progress made in addressing the OIG's recommendations; and any information regarding announced changes in contract specifications for current or future contracts for each facility, including bed capacity limits, and the justification for and budgetary impact of such changes.
Residential Reentry Centers.--The Committee is concerned with recent actions by the Bureau of Prisons [BOP] to cancel and modify contracts for Residential Reentry Centers [RRCs) without consultation with the Committee or BOP contractors. A recent Department of Justice Inspector General report found that between October 2013 and April 2016, 74,100 inmates were placed in RRCs or home confinement. The Committee recognizes that RRCs play a vital role in transitioning individuals back to the community after incarceration by employing evidence- based practices that reduce recidivism. The Committee expects BOP to maintain its support for RRCs and requires BOP to alert the Committee before adopting any significant change in policy or practice involving RRCs or other recidivism-reduction measures.
The Committee's recommendation provides $60,000,000 for the construction, modernization, maintenance, and repair of prison and detention facilities housing Federal prisoners. The recommendation is $70,000,000 below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $53,000,000 below the budget request. The Committee notes that BOP has a high level of unexpended balances in this account.
The Committee includes bill language in Title V--General Provisions stipulating that no BOP resources may be used for facilities to house detainees from the United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Reporting.--The Committee believes that the consideration of any new facility or facility expansion should be based upon a long-term strategic plan which incorporates a robust capital planning process including leading capital planning practices as outlined in OMB and GAO guidance. The Committee directs the BOP to continue providing quarterly reports to the Committee on the progress of its efforts, including funding for new prison construction if merited in future requests.
The Committee also directs the BOP to continue providing the Committee with the most recent monthly status of construction report, and to notify the Committee of any deviations from the construction and activation schedule identified in that report, including detailed explanations of the causes of delays and actions proposed to address them.
The Committee's recommendation provides a limitation on the administrative expenses of $2,700,000 for the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. The recommendation is equal to the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and is $5,000 above the budget request.
State and Local Law Enforcement Activities
In total, the Committee recommends $2,334,300,000 for State and local law enforcement and crime prevention grant programs, including: $1,955,300,000 in discretionary appropriations and in mandatory appropriations, and $379,000,000 from funds provided under section 510 of this act. The total is $59,500,000 below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $247,000,000 above the budget estimate.
Management and Administration Expenses.--The Department shall, in preparing its fiscal year 2018 spending plan, assess management and administration [M&A;] expenses compared to program funding. The Committee directs the Department to ensure that its assessment methodology is equitable and, for programs funded through the Crime Victims Fund, that the assessment reflects a fair representation of the share of each program devoted to common M&A; costs. The Committee also directs grant offices to minimize administrative spending in order to maximize the amount of funding that can be used for grants or training and technical assistance. The Committee reiterates the direction provided in Public Law 113-76 that the Department shall detail, as part of its budget submission for fiscal year 2019 and future years, the actual costs for each grant office with respect to training, technical assistance, research and statistics, and peer review for the prior fiscal year, along with estimates of planned expenditures by each grant office in each of these categories for the current year and the budget year.
Compliance with Federal Laws.--The Committee directs the Department to ensure that all applicants for Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants [Byrne JAG], Community Oriented Policing Services [COPS] grants, and State Criminal Alien Assistance Program [SCAAP] funds are required to attest and certify that the potential grant recipients are in compliance with all applicable Federal laws, and shall be required to continue to remain compliant throughout the duration of their grant award period.
Duplication of DOJ Grant Programs.--The Committee believes that, as the Federal budget continues to experience fiscal constraints, there is an ever-increasing need to ensure that governmental resources, including those awarded through grants and subgrants, are appropriately targeted and that unnecessary duplication is mitigated. Recent GAO reports have found that, as established in statute, some of the grant programs administered by the Office of Justice Programs [OJP], Office on Violence Against Women [OVW], and the COPS Office are similar in scope and grant applicants can apply for and receive grant awards from more than one program. Moreover, grant recipients may choose to award a portion of their grant to subgrantees. These subgrantees may also apply directly to Justice for funding through other grant programs for the same or similar purposes.
Yet, the Department's ability to characterize the landscape of potential duplicative programs and overlapping award opportunities remains unsatisfactory. Therefore, the Attorney General shall continue to submit a report to the Committee within 90 days of enactment of this act that includes the parameters and direction prescribed in Senate Report 114-239, which was codified in Public Law 115-31.
Grant Funding Set-Asides.--The Committee notes the significant number of reductions in grant funding allowable for various purposes, including training, technical assistance, research, evaluation and statistics activities with set-asides ranging anywhere from 2 percent to 10 percent of total grant funding provided. To that end, the Committee directs the Department to continue providing a comprehensive report concurrently with the spending plan that details the total amount provided for each grant program in this act, the specific reductions taken, the purpose for those reductions and the final use of those resources, including any transfers that may occur among OJP, OVW, and COPS. The Committee expects that the report will provide a complete analysis of the final amounts externally awarded and the amounts retained internally for other purposes.
Grant Funds for Rural, High Poverty Areas.--The Committee is concerned about the needs of rural, high poverty areas, especially those communities with high crime rates. The Committee wants to ensure that the challenges encountered by the residents of these areas are being addressed through the equitable use of grant funding. The Committee reminds the Department to consider the unique needs of rural, high poverty communities when making grant awards through the numerous programs funded under this act.
Flexible Tribal Assistance.--The Committee recommends funding tribal grant programs by permitting 7 percent of discretionary grant and reimbursement program funds, a total of $110,705,000 made available to the OJP and COPS, to be used for tribal criminal justice assistance, and continues to strongly support efforts to help tribes improve the capacity of their criminal justice systems. The OJP is expected to consult closely with tribal stakeholders in determining how tribal assistance funds will be awarded for detention facilities, including outdated detention facilities that are unfit for detention purposes and beyond rehabilitation, courts, alcohol and substance abuse programs, civil and criminal legal assistance, and other priorities. The Committee directs the OJP to submit, as part of the Department's spending plan for fiscal year 2018, a plan for the use of these funds that has been informed by such consultation. The Committee notes that the bill includes additional grant funding for tribal victim assistance programs through OVW, and a 5 percent set aside within the CVF.
Submission of Officer Training Information.--The Committee directs the Department to continue following direction provided in fiscal year 2017 regarding the submission of officer training data as part of the Byrne-JAG and COPS hiring grant process.
Financial Exploitation.--The Committee commends the work of the Office for Victims of Crime [OVC] to address the issue of financial exploitation of older Americans by guardians, conservators, and other fiduciaries. The Committee encourages OVC to continue working with stakeholders to develop mechanisms to preserve, recoup, or minimize loss of the assets of individuals subject to conservatorship. In addition, OVC shall work to improve access to the legal system by victims of conservatorship exploitation, and develop a list of best practices to help train victim advocates.
Office on Violence Against Women
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN PREVENTION AND PROSECUTION PROGRAMS
1Of the $481,500,000 provided in this heading, $326,000,000 is derived by transfer from funding available under section 510 of this act.
2Of the $480,000,000 provided in this heading, $445,000,000 is requested to be derived from funding available under section 510 of this act.
3Of the $483,500,000 provided in this heading, $379,000,000 is derived by transfer from funding available under section 510 of this act.
The Committee's recommendation provides $483,500,000 for OVW grants. The recommendation is $2,000,000 above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level, and $3,500,000 above the budget request. Resources are provided to the OVW to respond to the needs of all victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking, including, but not limited to, Native women, immigrants, LGBT victims, college students, youths, and public housing residents.
The table below displays the Committee's recommendations for the programs under this office.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN PREVENTION AND PROSECUTION PROGRAMS
[In thousands of dollars]
STOP Grants.--Within the discretionary budget authority appropriated, $215,000,000 is for formula grants to the States. This is equal to the budget request and equal to the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. The recommendation supports increasing access to comprehensive legal services for victims, providing short-term housing assistance and support services for domestic violence victims, and education and training to end violence against and abuse of women with disabilities.
Sexual Assault Services Act [SASA].--The Committee's recommendation provides $35,000,000, which is equal to the budget request and the fiscal year 2017 enacted level, to directly fund the needs of sexual assault victims.
As part of VAWA 2005 and reauthorized by VAWA 2013, the Sexual Assault Services Program addresses considerable gaps in services to sexual assault victims. The Committee supports a dedicated stream of funding to provide a broad range of services to male, female, and child sexual assault victims and their families through the well-established and well-regarded system of community-based rape crisis centers throughout the United States, and maintains its strong commitment to ensuring that these rape crisis centers have access to technical assistance, training, and support.
Campus Sexual Assault.--The Committee supports the Department's continued development and testing of a pilot campus climate survey. The pilot's results suggest the majority of campus sexual assaults are not reported to authorities, do not come to the attention of university officials and, therefore, are not represented in official Federal statistics. The Committee encourages the Department to examine expanding this survey, possibly through the assistance of the research set-aside provided in section 212 of this bill, and developing a cost-effective, standardized, and methodologically rigorous nationwide research program on campus sexual assault.
Office of Justice Programs
The Office of Justice Programs [OJP] is responsible for providing leadership, coordination, and assistance to its Federal, State, local, and tribal partners to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the U.S. justice system in preventing, controlling, and responding to crime. As most of the responsibility for crime control and prevention falls to law enforcement officers in States, cities, and other localities, the Federal Government is effective in these areas only to the extent that it can enter into successful partnerships with these jurisdictions. Therefore, OJP is tasked with administering grants; collecting statistical data and conducting analyses; identifying emerging criminal justice issues; developing and testing promising and innovative approaches to address these issues; evaluating program results; and disseminating these findings and other information to State, local, and tribal governments. The Committee directs the OJP to submit a quarterly report on grant programs that have not received a sufficient number of qualified applicants.
Gang Prevention Grants and Crime Rates.--The Committee remains concerned about gang activity and violent crime throughout the country, noting that Federal partnership with law enforcement is essential not only in our largest cities, but also in suburban and rural jurisdictions, where gang activity and violent crime rates can exceed national averages. To strengthen Federal partnerships across all jurisdictions, the Committee directs OJP to review the criteria by which OJP awards discretionary grants relating to gang violence and prevention under the State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance and Juvenile Justice Programs on a per capita basis of applicant cities and jurisdictions where gang activity and violent crime rates exceed national averages.
The Committee recognizes the threat posed by foreign- influenced gangs in small, rural communities and the need for greater coordination among Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies to address this problem. Such gang activity has the potential to overwhelm local law enforcement resources in rural areas, particularly in communities with populations under 25,000. The Committee urges OJP to find ways to assist these communities within existing State and local assistance programs for reducing criminal gang activity in small, rural communities.
Combating Online Crime, Hate, and Terror Groups.--The Committee encourages OJP to provide funding within existing grant opportunities targeted at expanding the ability of academic forensic technology programs to assist in identifying and profiling online crime, hate, and terror groups.
The Committee's recommendation provides $85,000,000 for the Research, Evaluation and Statistics account. The recommendation is $4,000,000 below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $26,000,000 below the budget request.
Funding in this account provides assistance in the areas of research, evaluation, statistics, hate crimes, DNA and forensics, criminal background checks, and gun safety technology, among others.
The Committee's recommendations are displayed in the following table:
RESEARCH, EVALUATION AND STATISTICS
[In thousands of dollars]
Spending Plans.--The Department shall submit to the Committee as part of its spending plan for State and Local Law Enforcement Activities a plan for the use of all funding administered by the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, respectively, for approval by the Committee prior to the obligation of any such funds.
Bureau of Justice Statistics [BJS].--The Committee's recommendation provides $45,500,000 for the BJS. Within the funds provided, $5,000,000 is provided for the National Crime Statistics Exchange [NCS-X]. NCS-X will improve the collection and reporting into the National Incident-Based Reporting System [NIBRS], which provides more detailed criminal data such as officer-related shooting incidents.
National Institute of Justice [NIJ].--The Committee's recommendation provides $39,500,000 for the NIJ, in addition to $4,000,000 transferred from the OVW for research and evaluation on violence against women and Indian women. Within the funds provided for NIJ, $4,000,000 is provided for domestic radicalization research. The NIJ's mission is to advance scientific research, development, and evaluation to advance the administration of justice and public safety.
Justice Reform.--From within funds available for the NIJ, the Committee directs NIJ to provide a program, ideally partnering with an institution of higher learning, to educate and train the next generation of justice leaders. The program shall engage postsecondary students as well as criminal justice professionals and academics wishing to broaden their understanding of justice systems and restorative approaches either through a degree program, a summer institute, short courses, or other means.
Forensic Initiative.--Due to the sunset of DOJ's National Commission on Forensic Science on April 23, 2017, direct funding for Scientific Working Groups is provided in Title I under the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
1The request includes $73,000,000 to be derived by transfer from funds provided under section 510 of this act.
The Committee's recommendation provides $1,171,000,000 for State and local law enforcement assistance. The recommendation is $87,500,000 below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level, and $230,500,000 above the budget request.
The Committee's recommendations are displayed in the following table:
STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT ASSISTANCE
[In thousands of dollars]
Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.-- The Committee recommends $404,500,000 for Byrne-JAG. Funding is not available for luxury items, real estate, or construction projects. The Department should expect State, local, and tribal governments to target funding to programs and activities that conform with evidence-based strategic plans developed through broad stakeholder involvement. The Committee directs the Department to make technical assistance available to State, local, and tribal governments for the development or update of such plans. Funding is authorized for law enforcement programs including those that promote data interoperability between disparate law enforcement entities; prosecution and court programs; prevention and education programs; corrections programs; drug treatment and enforcement programs; planning, evaluation, and technology improvement programs; and crime victim and witness programs, other than compensation.
In order to meet challenges faced by prosecutors, the Committee provides $2,500,000 within the Byrne-JAG program for the Smart Prosecution program, which supports partnerships between prosecutors and researchers focused on developing and implementing innovative prosecution-based criminal justice programs and strategies that are effective, efficient, and economical. The Committee encourages OJP to remind awardees that many prosecutorial technology and case management modernization needs may be addressed through the Byrne-JAG program.
Training for Forensic Services.--The Committee is interested in solution-based approaches to train local law enforcement officers and utilize available technology to reduce court backlogs and prosecutions. To the extent appropriate, OJP should explore ways to provide resources for multi- jurisdictional forensic service providers, in collaboration with universities and nonprofits, to provide access to forensic expertise, assistance, and continuing education to law enforcement agencies. The Committee encourages OJP to remind awardees that these objectives could also be met through the Byrne-JAG program.
VALOR Initiative.--The Committee's recommendation provides $7,500,000 within Byrne-JAG for the Officer Robert Wilson III Preventing Violence Against Law Enforcement Officer Resilience and Survivability Initiative [VALOR]. The Committee expects Federal law enforcement agencies to continue and expand on efforts to provide local police with information as to whether or not a suspect has a violent history, to the extent that transfer of such information is allowable and available via Federal law enforcement databases, in an effort to prevent officer deaths. The Committee notes that an additional $7,500,000 is provided under the COPS heading for Protecting Our Lives by Initiating COPS Expansion [POLICE] Act (Public Law 114-199) programs which help to provide active shooter training programs for State and local law enforcement officers.
National Instant Criminal Background Check System [NICS] Initiative Grants.--The Committee funds the program at $73,000,000, which is $5,000,000 above the budget request, to continue to improve the submission of State criminal and mental health records to NICS. This investment will strengthen the national background check system by assisting States in finding ways to make more records available in the NICS system, especially mental health records, thereby addressing gaps in Federal and State records currently available in NICS. Those gaps significantly hinder the ability of NICS to quickly confirm whether a prospective purchaser is prohibited from acquiring a firearm. The Committee expects OJP to track whether grant recipients are submitting data in a timely manner into the NICS system.
Grants to Combat Human Trafficking.--Trafficking victims are subjected to physical, mental, and sexual abuse and need various types of assistance to begin healing and recovery, including counseling, housing, medical care, support groups, and legal assistance. The Committee's recommendation provides $45,000,000 for services and task force activities for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and foreign nationals who are victims of trafficking. The OJP shall consult with stakeholder groups in determining the overall allocation of Victims of Trafficking funding and shall provide to the Committee a plan for the use of these funds as part of the Department's fiscal year 2018 spending plan.
The Committee notes that funding provided in this program may be used for victims of sex and labor trafficking who are minors, as authorized under VAWA 2013. Child trafficking victims require specialized care, and these resources can be used for items like residential care, emergency social services, mental health counseling, and legal services.
Funding to assist State and local law enforcement in strengthening and expanding the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking and training law enforcement personnel on the identification of trafficking victims was authorized under VAWA 2013. The Committee recommends that funds be made available for human trafficking task forces, particularly those that combat the sex trafficking of minors in High Intensity Child Prostitution areas identified by the FBI. Trafficking task forces can also use funding for innovative technological instruments to assist in the rescue of trafficking victims.
Bulletproof Vests.--Within the $22,500,000 provided for bulletproof vests, $1,500,000 is to be transferred directly to the NIST Office of Law Enforcement Standards [OLES] to continue supporting ballistic- and stab-resistant material compliance testing programs. The Committee expects the BJA to continue strengthening internal controls to manage the Bulletproof Vest Partnership program. Improving grantee accountability in the timely use of Federal funds to purchase body armor will help every police officer who needs a vest to get one, thus saving officers' lives.
Second Chance Act Grants and Drug Treatment.--The recommendation provides $70,000,000 for Second Chance Act [SCA] grants. The Committee expects that SCA funding will support grants that foster the implementation of strategies that have been proven to reduce recidivism and ensure safe and successful reentry back to their communities of adults released from prisons and jails. The SCA supports activities such as employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, local transportation, mentoring, family programming, and victim support. SCA grants will also support demonstration projects designed to test the impact of new strategies and frameworks.
The Committee continues to support the Office of Management and Budget's scoring mechanism for SCA grant funding as it relates to opioid abuse and the heroin epidemic. In addition, when awarding SCA grants the Committee directs the OJP to consider the impact of reentry of prisoners on communities in which a disproportionate number of individuals reside upon release from incarceration. The OJP shall assess the reentry burdens borne by local communities and local law enforcement agencies; review the resources available in such communities to support successful reentry and the extent to which those resources are used effectively; and make recommendations to strengthen the resources in such communities which are available to support successful reentry and to lessen the burden placed on such communities by the need to support reentry.
DNA Backlog and Crime Lab Improvements.--The Committee is once again extremely disappointed that the Department's budget request slashes funding by $20,000,000 for critical grant programs to help State and local agencies address their backlogs and test forensic evidence. The Committee continues its strong support for DNA backlog and crime lab improvements by recommending $125,000,000 to strengthen and improve Federal and State DNA collection and analysis systems that can be used to accelerate the prosecution of the guilty while simultaneously protecting the innocent from wrongful prosecution. Within funds provided, $117,000,000 is for Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction grants, $4,000,000 is for Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing grants, and $4,000,000 is for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners grants.
From within the funding provided for Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction grants, the Committee expects the Department to prioritize reducing rape kit backlogs, given that it is the primary reason why the Committee continues to provide robust funding for these grants. As clarified in the Justice For All Reauthorization Act of 2016 (Public Law 114-324), the Committee directs the Department to provide not less than 75 percent of the total grant amounts for direct testing activities to reduce the backlog. The Committee further directs DOJ to provide at least 5 percent of funds to law enforcement agencies to conduct audits of their backlogged rape kits and to prioritize testing in those cases in which the statute of limitations will soon expire, as authorized by the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting Act of 2013 (Public Law 113-4).
The Committee expects that the OJP will make funding for DNA analysis and capacity enhancement a priority in order to meet the purposes of the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program. The Committee directs the Department to submit to the Committee as part of its spending plan for State and Local Law Enforcement Activities a plan with respect to funds appropriated for DNA-related and forensic programs, including the alignment of appropriated funds with the authorized purposes of the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program.
Reducing the Rape Kit Backlog.--The Committee's recommendation includes $45,000,000 to continue a competitive grant program started in fiscal year 2015 as part of the initiative to reduce the backlog of rape kits at law enforcement agencies. The NIJ shall provide competitively awarded grants with a comprehensive community-based approach to addressing the resolution of cases in the backlog. The Committee directs the NIJ to provide a report not later than 90 days after enactment of this act on its progress in developing a strategy and model to serve as best practices for discovering and testing kits, training law enforcement, and supporting victims throughout the process as required by Public Law 113- 235.
Comprehensive School Safety.--The Committee's recommendation includes $50,000,000 to continue a competitive grant program as part of the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative [CSSI] started in fiscal year 2014. The NIJ shall provide competitively awarded grants with strong research and evaluation components to local school districts and State educational agencies to support the implementation of school safety interventions under the existing construct. The Committee urges NIJ that schools participating in grants funded through CSSI shall employ an evidence-based school threat assessment and intervention program. The Committee directs the NIJ to provide a report not later than 90 days after enactment of this act, on the continued development of a strategy and model for comprehensive school safety.
Economic, High-Tech, White Collar, and Cybercrime Prevention.--The Committee recommends $14,000,000 to assist State and local law enforcement agencies in the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of economic, high-tech, and Internet crimes. Given the importance of protecting our Nation's new technologies, ideas, and products, the Committee includes the request of $2,500,000 for competitive grants that help State and local law enforcement tackle intellectual property [IP] thefts, such as counterfeiting and piracy.
With the growing prevalence of cybercrimes and the ubiquitous nature of the existence of digital evidence in nearly every crime committed, the Committee is concerned that insufficient training and support of law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges could hinder the investigation and prosecution of cyber and traditional crimes. Within the funds provided, $1,000,000 is for the continuation of a Cybercrime and Digital Evidence Resource Prosecutor Pilot Program to provide State and local prosecutors with training and trial experience in cybercrimes and digital evidence.
Additionally, the Committee recognizes the need to expand opportunities for computer and digital forensics education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in order to prepare for these challenges. Within the funds provided, $1,000,000 shall be dedicated to establish a partnership with an institution for higher learning for the purposes of furthering educational opportunities for students training in computer forensics and digital investigation.
Community Trust Initiative.--The Committee's recommendation provides $65,000,000 for the Community Trust Initiative programs aimed at building cooperation and trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Funding is provided for three programs within this Initiative at levels of (1) $22,500,000 for the Body-Worn Camera Partnership Program, to be used for matching grants to equip law enforcement officers with body-worn cameras, and jurisdictions must illustrate that training has been provided in the proper use of body-worn cameras and have privacy and data retention policies already in place; (2) $25,000,000 for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a data driven approach to improving public safety; and (3) $17,500,000 for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program, which provides demonstration grants in communities to support innovative, evidence-based approaches to fighting crime and improving public safety, as well as addressing underlying problems.
Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act [CARA] Programs.-- The Committee provides a total of $111,000,000 for CARA programs, including $43,000,000 for drug courts; $7,000,000 for veterans treatment courts; $14,000,000 for Residential Substance Abuse Treatment; $14,000,000 for prescription drug monitoring; $12,000,000 for the Mentally Ill Offender Act; and $21,000,000 for the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program [COAP] comprised of other programs authorized by CARA.
While OJP is in the process of finalizing awards made under COAP for fiscal year 2017, OJP believes the demand for grants in this area far exceeds the availability of funding, resulting in only 14 to 19 percent of COAP applicants receiving funding. In order to meet this demand, the Committee provides an increase of $8,000,000 above the fiscal year 2017 level. Of the $21,000,000 for COAP no less than $2,500,000 shall be made available for additional replication sites employing the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion [LEAD] model, with applicants demonstrating a plan for sustainability of LEAD-model diversion programs.