The Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP), under the National Institute of Justice Grant Program, provides financial assistance to support the enhancement of forensic science laboratories and medical examiners offices with the stated purpose of improving the quality and timeliness of forensic science and medical examiner services.
A state or unit of local government that receives a Coverdell grant must use the grant for one or more of these six purposes:
- To carry out all or a substantial part of a program intended to improve the quality and timeliness of forensic science or medical examiner/coroner services in the State, including those services provided by laboratories operated by the State and those operated by units of local government within the State.
- 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.
- To train, assist, and employ forensic laboratory personnel and medicolegal death investigators as needed to eliminate such a backlog.
- To address emerging forensic science issues (such as statistics, contextual bias, and uncertainty of measurement) and emerging forensic science technology (such as high throughput automation, statistical software, and new types of instrumentation).
- To educate and train forensic pathologists.
- To fund medicolegal death investigation systems to facilitate accreditation of medical examiner and coroner offices and certification of medicolegal death investigators.
Grant funding will be prioritized to projects which address the following priorities:
- Programs designed to improve the timeliness and reduce backlogs for forensic science and medical examiner services.
- The National Institute of Justice requires that 57% of the funding received by Iowa be utilized on programming which substantially addresses the challenges of the opioid crisis.
- Accreditation of forensic laboratories and medical examiner offices.
Funding for this solicitation is available through Iowa’s Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant allocations. Iowa is expected to receive between $239,769 and $296,966. Fifty-seven percent of the funding will be earmarked for project expenses which address the opioid crisis.
The Office of Drug Control Policy and the Coverdell Forensic Science Program place strong emphasis on the use of data and evidence in policy making and programming. Grantees should commit to documenting and describing, to the extent possible, a data/evidence focused response to particular crime and substance abuse problem(s) in their grant applications.
For more information about evidence-based programs, as outlined by the U.S. Department of Justice, go to www.crimesolutions.gov .
GRANT APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS
Those eligible to receive grant funds through this solicitation include state and local units of government which operate a forensic laboratory.
For the purposes of this solicitation –
- An entity performing forensic science services is considered a “forensic science laboratory” if it:
- It employs one or more full-time scientists (with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a natural science [e.g., chemistry, physics, biology, or a closely-related natural-science field]), and
- Its principal function is to examine physical evidence in criminal matters and provide reports and testimony to courts of law regarding such evidence.
- Law enforcement units operating outside of the crime laboratory function, such as crime scene units and other entities that engage exclusively in evidence collection and documentation, are not forensic science laboratories for these purposes.
- Medical examiner and coroner offices are treated as forensic science laboratories.
For purposes of this solicitation, a local unit of government is defined as a city, county, town, township or other general purpose political subdivision of a state and includes Indian tribes as determined by the Secretary of the Interior.
COVERDELL SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS
Funds may be used to prepare for laboratory accreditation by an appropriate accrediting body. An applicant that proposes to use any portion of the grant amount to fund a forensic science laboratory system, including any laboratory operated by a unit of local government within the State, that is not accredited will be required to use a portion of the grant amount for accreditation purposes. Successful applicants must use grant funds to prepare and apply for accreditation not more than two (2) years after the Coverdell award date.
Program Specific Certification
Plan for Forensic Science
Applicants (state agencies only) are required to certify that they have developed a statewide forensic science and medical examiner plan to improve the quality and timeliness of forensic science and medical examiner services.
Generally Accepted Laboratory Practices and Procedures
Applicants are required to certify that they use generally accepted laboratory practices and procedures established by accrediting organizations or appropriate certifying bodies.
Applicants are required to certify that an appropriate process is in place to conduct independent external investigations into allegations of serious negligence or misconduct substantially affecting the integrity of the forensic results committed by employees or contractors.
Potential Environmental Impact Coversheet and Checklist
Applicants are required to assess the potential environmental impacts of the activities proposed. Applicants are required to complete and attach the environmental impact coversheet and checklist.
Applications for funding must be received by ODCP through Iowa’s enterprise grant management system (www.iowagrants.gov) by 4:30 p.m. June 23, 2021.