The Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Act of 2000
WHAT IS THE COVERDELL ACT?
The Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Act was named in memory of Senator Paul Coverdell, who fought tirelessly for better support for forensic science labs. In the 106th Congress in 2000, both House and Senate unanimously passed the Coverdell Act, which was then signed into law by the president. In effect, however, the law only created the bank account for crime lab funding, without actually depositing anything into it — each year, only a small fraction of needed federal funds have been spent on Coverdell.
Previous bills giving funds for labs were often heavily earmarked, which means that relatively few labs benefitted from them. The Coverdell Act makes funds available to all state and local labs. Seventy-five percent of the money is to be made available to applying states — in this case divided among all fifty states, five U.S. territories (the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), and the District of Columbia through a grant process. Other qualified entities (such as local labs and medical examiners offices) compete for the remaining amount — minus the National Institute of Justice’s deductions for administrative costs.
Of the total amount authorized for the Coverdell Act, little has been appropriated.
Federal funding requires both authorization and appropriation. (To learn more about the federal budget process, click here.) Appropriation is the actual “deposit” of money into the Coverdell grant program.
These figures are from the National Institute of Justice Website’s information on the Coverdell Act.
2001 – Authorized: $35 million
Actually appropriated: ZERO
2002 – Authorized: $85.4 million
Actually appropriated: $5 million
Actually awarded in grants from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ): $4,863,000 (Most of this funding was given in 2003)
2003 – Authorized: over $134.7 million
Actually appropriated: $4,967,500
Actually awarded in grants from NIJ: $4,113,719
During the next year, the Crime Lab Project and other organizations worked to increase Coverdell funding.
2004 – Authorized: over $128 million
Actually appropriated: $10 million
Actually awarded in grants from NIJ: $9,597,656
2005 – Authorized over $56.7 million
Actually appropriated: $15 million
Actually awarded in grants from NIJ: $13,607,811
2006 – Authorized over $42 million
Actually appropriated: $18.5 million
Actually awarded in grants from NIJ: $14,821,048
The 108th Congress made some changes in Coverdell eligibility while also extending the grants for another three years. For each of those years, $20 million was authorized. Reporting from NIJ does not include appropriations in all years.
2007 – Authorized $20 million
Actually appropriated: $18 million
Actually awarded in grants from NIJ: $16,452,705
2008 – Authorized $20 million
Actually awarded in grants by the NIJ: $16,570,703
2009 – Authorized over $20 million
Actually awarded in grants by the NIJ: $23,399,500 (The amount may be larger due to carry over from previous years — the NIJ report for that year does not include that information.)
2010 – Awarded $33,285,684
The NIJ Website has more information about the Coverdell Forensic Sciences Act and current figures for allocations and awards. Click here to visit the NIJ Coverdell page.
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