FY 2021 Safeguarding Correctional Facilities and Public Safety by Addressing Contraband Cellphones
During this webinar, which took place on February 25, 2021, presenters discussed the purpose and goals of the FY 2021 Safeguarding Correctional Facilities and Public Safety by Addressing Contraband Cellphones funding opportunity; reviewed eligibility requirements; and addressed frequently asked questions.
DARYL FOX: Good afternoon everyone and welcome to today's webinar “Safeguarding Correctional Facilities and Public Safety by Addressing Contraband Cellphones FY 2021 Competitive Grant Program” hosted by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. At this time, I would like to introduce today's presenter, Jessa Wilcox, Policy Adviser with the Bureau of Justice Assistance to begin today's webinar. Jessa?
JESSA WILCOX: Hello and thank you Daryl, and thank you all very much for participating in this webinar on BJA's Fiscal Year 2021 Safeguarding Correctional Facilities and Public Safety by Addressing Contraband Cellphones Program. As Daryl said, my name is Jessa Wilcox and I along with my colleague Tracey Willis oversee this program within the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice. Today, I will explain and describe the content of this BJA solicitation and give you some information about the application process. And I first want to acknowledge the difficult time that we are living in and thank everyone for joining us today. I know that you all have many competing priorities on your plate of which responding to the coronavirus pandemic is just one of many and I really appreciate that you've taken the time today to listen to this webinar.
To give you a sense of what we will cover today, here is the agenda. We have divided the content of this webinar into six separate sections. We will start with an overview of the solicitation then turn to eligibility considerations. We will discuss deliverables and allowable uses of grant funds, application requirements and priority considerations, federal award information, and how and when to apply for funding under the solicitation. And as Daryl said, we'll be available for any questions at the end.
Let's turn to the solicitation overview. BJA's 2021 solicitation supports efforts by state, local, and federally recognized Indian tribal governments to protect against contraband cellphone use in correctional facilities. This program furthers the department's mission by reducing violence and enhancing public safety. As you all are aware, contraband cellphone use is a serious problem in correctional facilities. Cellphones have been used by incarcerated people to bring harm to people, commit criminal acts, and manage criminal enterprises. This jeopardizes the safety of the nation's communities and public safety officials. So the goal of this program is to assist state, local, and tribal correctional agencies to develop and implement managed access systems to prevent, detect, seize, and stop the presence and use of contraband cellphones by detainees and inmates.
So to achieve the goals of this program, applicants are expected to test, implement, and document changes to policy, practice, and tactics, as they relate to preventing, detecting, seizing, and stopping the presence and use of contraband cellphones.
Applicants are encouraged to identify strategies to educate relevant staff members and other key stakeholders about steps they can take to address contraband cellphones, and to define a process to gather, use, and share intelligence as a result of seizing contraband cellphones.
Let's move into the eligibility section of this webinar. We're going to focus here on a number of key eligibility considerations relevant to state, local, and tribal jurisdictions that are entrusted in applying for a grant award this fiscal year.
So on this slide, we've included the key eligibility considerations for this solicitation. Eligible applicants are states, units of local government, and federally recognized Indian tribal governments. And BJA strongly encourages all eligible agencies across the nation to submit applications, regardless of how much progress you have made in addressing contraband cellphones in your facilities. In other words, if you and your agency have already devoted substantial time to considering this problem and researching and discussing potential solutions, we want you to apply for funding under this solicitation. Addressing the issue of contraband cellphones is complex and challenging undertaking and requires significant time, energy, and resources. Alternatively, if you and your agency know that this is a problem in your facilities that you have not yet begun to discuss strategies that will work for your agency, we also encourage you to apply for funding under this solicitation.
BJA welcomes joint or collaborative applications under which two or more eligible applicants apply together for funding under this solicitation. However, we want to emphasize that only one entity may be the designated applicant in any applications that is submitted to BJA under this solicitation. Of course, all other collaborating agencies must be proposed and included in applications as subrecipients.
Now I'm going to cover allowable uses of grant funds and required deliverables.
In this solicitation, BJA lists some potential allowable uses of funds: can operationalize effective and secure managed access systems, provide technological solutions to detect drones, ensure governments are in compliance with the Federal Communications Commission and laws governing the interception of electronic communications including the rules that criminalize actions aimed at disabling aircrafts.
Here is where I want to pause for a second and make sure that all applicants are aware of the many federal laws and regulations that govern work that your agency might want to undertake in working to end contraband cellphone use in your facilities. I've linked to two guidance documents on this slide but there are several others and I'll just mention a
few of them briefly. For federal laws, you can look under 2 CFR 200.216, which states grant recipients and subrecipients are prohibited from obligating or expending grant funds on equipment, services, or systems that use covered telecommunications equipment and of course you'll find the definition for covered telecommunications equipment there. At UAS Mitigation Technology may also implicate federal criminal prohibitions against among other things, intercepting and interfering with communications, damaging a protected computer, damaging an aircraft. And finally most non-federal entities are banned from making, importing, shipping, selling, or using devices that do not comply with STC regulations around jamming technologies.
Those are just a few brief mentions, but overall the takeaway, please work with your general counsel's offices to ensure that there are no legal prohibitions on your proposed projects. You can also submit questions that you have about this to us at BJA and our general counsel's office. We will make the answers to those questions publicly available to all applicants and Daryl will explain at the end how to do that.
Moving on. To support the efforts of the selected grantees under this solicitation, to achieve the objectives of the solicitation, and to ensure that all grantees make meaningful progress during the life of its grant, BJA is pleased to be able to provide each grantee a technical assistance or a TA coach. These TA coaches possess significant subject matter expertise and knowledge, and the ongoing work of the TA coaches to support the grantees is funded through a cooperative agreement with BJA to support—so it's provided at no cost to each grantee. Just to say this one more time, all grantees will receive strategic support from a TA coach for free.
And this slide gives you a clearer sense of the kinds of support the TA coaches will be able to provide to the grantees. First, the TA coaches will support the efforts of BJA’s grantees to finalize their implementation plans during the initial months of the grant period. I'll talk more about these implementation plans in a few minutes. The TA coaches will also guide the work of the grantees to translate the content of their plans into meaningful actions and steps that result in movement and the direction of increased safety in confinement facilities.
Finally, TA coaches can assist grantees in multiple ways and here are just a few examples. They can explain cutting edge research on the efficacy of different interdiction technologies; they can help grantees determine what types of contraband interdiction technologies would be promising and for what type of facility; they can assist grantees in drafting questions to raise the vendors when selecting an interdiction technology; can analyze the records management system to determine if the data you currently collect will be sufficient to keep track of program implementation as well as
program successes; can help grantees determine what they will be able to say about the impacts or effects.
Getting back, I was going through what the TA coaches are capable of doing. I think we're saying that they can help grantees determine what they can say about the impacts or effects of this program and they can assist with policy or procedure development, and these are just a few examples, this list is not exhaustive.
Moving on, all grantees funded under this solicitation will be required to produce several specific deliverables. First, a comprehensive individualized implementation plan that will guide each grantee's activities. The second deliverable is a sustainability plan. Sustainability is a critical focus area for all of BJA's grantees and it is BJA's expectations that the projects and strategies funded under the solicitation will at a minimum be sustained and perhaps be expanded after the grant period ends. The TA coaches who are assigned to the grantees will support the work of each grantee to determine how the investments made by BJA can live on into the future. The third deliverable is a final report that will give an overview of what the grantees did during the grant period. And the final deliverable is documentation of the work accomplished during the grant period.
We at BJA expect that the grantees funded under this solicitation will carry out innovative and promising work, that there will be a great deal to be learned from the efforts of the grantees. As a result, another key role of the TA coaches will be to work closely with the grantees to document the innovative and promising work completed through this grant program, so that other practitioners, confinement facilities, and agencies can learn and benefit from it. BJA will rely on the grantees and the coaches to help determine how the work supported under this solicitation and its positive outcomes can be documented and shared so that others across the nation may learn and benefit from it.
Moving on to section four, we want to make note of several application requirements and priority considerations that are included in this solicitation.
So page 11 of the solicitation lists all of the application requirements. To be even considered for funding, each applicant must include a Project Abstract, a Program Narrative, and the Program Narrative will include a description of the issue, Project Design and Implementation, Capabilities and Competencies of the agency applying for grant funds, and a plan for collecting the data required to the solicitation's performance measures. You must submit a Budget Detail Worksheet and Budget Narrative and for the first time this is a web-based form found on JustGrants and we'll get into a little bit
more information about JustGrants later. You have to submit a Timeline, a Project Plan, and finally executive-level letters of commitment from the agency that is proposed to receive funding.
We at BJA have concluded that a strong commitment and support from agency leaders is a requirement of and prerequisite for successful efforts under this grant. As a result, all applicants must submit to BJA a letter or letters on official agency letterhead that demonstrate the commitment of agency leaders to support the efforts under the grant program.
For example, a local sheriff's department that runs a county jail and that applies for funding under the solicitation must include a Letter of Support from the sheriff. Similarly, a state department of corrections that applies for funding must include a Letter of Support from the corrections director or administrator. Beyond Letters of Support, we encourage applicants to think about ways in which they can demonstrate and convey to BJA the support of agency leadership for their efforts.
There are several policy priority areas in this solicitation. Priority areas are important for potential applicants to consider because if two applicants are rated or ranked the same via BJA's objective applicant peer review process and one applicant addresses one or more priority considerations in their application, and the other applicant does not, priority for funding will be given to the applicant that addresses one or more or priority considerations. As such, BJA encourages applicants to seriously consider if and how they can address and integrate one or more priority consideration into their application. This solicitation will give priority consideration to applications from federally recognized tribes, and there are several other priorities that you will find across almost all of the Office of Justice Programs Fiscal Year '21 solicitations. Priority will be given to applications that address specific challenges that rural communities face, applications that demonstrate that the individuals who are intended to benefit from the requested grant reside in high poverty areas or persistent poverty counties. Applications that offer enhancements to public safety in economically distressed communities, or applicants who signed a certification to cooperate with federal law enforcement, which you will find at the end of the solicitation as Appendix B.
In general, you can find more information about these priorities, how to determine if they apply, and how to demonstrate that they apply by looking at page eight of the solicitation.
Moving to section five, I will go over the specifics of the federal award information.
As stated in the solicitation, BJA anticipates making up to four awards of up to $425,000 for a twenty-four month period. As I discussed earlier, BJA is requiring all grantees to spend the first few months finalizing comprehensive, individualized implementation plans. We say six months, but once BJA has reviewed and approved the implementation plans, grantees are free to start implementation activities, even if it's well before the six months have passed, so it's really driven by how fast the grantee, along with their TA coaches can complete the implementation plan.
Now, we have reached our last section, how and when to apply.
As you may be aware, OJP has switched from its old Grants Management System to the JustGrants system for application submission and award management. There is a new process for submitting applications, which requires a longer lead time than in past years, so please plan in advance.
In step one of the process, applicants must submit an SF-424 and an SF-LLL at Grants.gov. The deadline to complete step one is April 22nd, 2021. You must complete step one before you can move on to step two.
In step two of the process, applicants submit the full application, including all attachments at JusticeGrants.usdoj.gov. And this due date is May 6th, 2021.
Just a little on JustGrants. As I just mentioned this is the first year that OJP will be accepting solicitation submissions through JustGrants. We at BJA are excited about this switch to JustGrants, and JustGrants offers several submission enhancements, including a streamlined end-to-end process, which enables applicants and grantees to move seamlessly through the full grants management lifecycle. It also gives applicants and award recipients new ways to manage their own entity information, and that of users in the system. It also allows for new roles like a new entity administrator role in JustGrants that is assigned to the user who creates the SAM.gov account.
So we at DOJ want to make sure that this new process for using JustGrants is a smooth and easy as possible. One key resource to help you apply are these DOJ-hosted webinars on JustGrants, they're called Application Mechanics: Submitting an Application. There is a live link on this slide, and we can include it—oh, and look, it's right there on the chat. Great. Thanks so much.
The application sessions, which are running throughout March and April, will provide applicants with pertinent information on how to submit applications. The sessions will ensure that applicants know how to navigate and use JustGrants, and information
provided during the webinar will include how to access and utilize DOJ's new Grant Management System to apply for funding; how to search and find open DOJ funding opportunities; the steps and actions that applicants need to take prior to applying for funding; the JustGrants roles which are needed to ensure users are prepared to take the necessary actions to submit an application; and how to navigate and use the system, for example, how to save your work.
And this slide includes a live link to the DOJ application submission checklist. This checklist includes how to prepare to apply; completing the abbreviated application in Grants.gov, entity onboarding and JustGrants access; completing, reviewing, certifying, and submitting your application in JustGrants; and other helpful user tips.
And on this slide, we've included some additional resources you might consider accessing as you work through your application. You can access recordings and the slide decks from previous webinars, you can refer to the JustGrants Training Application Submission page for additional information, and training on the application submission process. And please bookmark the JustGrants Training page for updates. That was a lot of information. I'm going to now turn it back over to Daryl. Thanks.
DARYL FOX: Thanks Jessa. Yeah. And just a reminder, as we're going through this, if you have any questions that you would like answered, please enter those within the Q&A box at the bottom right-hand side of your screen, and we have a few already in queue. We'll get to these towards the end of the presentation after we review some of these application assistance resources that are offered.
So the next slide here, OJP does provide several resources for assisting with the application process. Grants.gov is just one of them. The site provides technical assistance with submitting OJP grant applications. You can contact the customer support hotline via phone at 800-518-4726, which is—operates twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, except on federal holidays. Or you can access support information from their website, which is listed here, or through email, at [email protected].
The Response Center is another resource that provides solicitation support and general assistance. If you have questions about this particular solicitation or others that are available, you contact them. You can do so via email at [email protected], via web chat, or toll-free at 800-851-3420. And TTY is also available for the hearing impaired. Hours of operation are a little different, they are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday. And also, to keep appraised of new funding opportunities and other resources, you could subscribe to the twice monthly JUSTINFO newsletter, as well as the Funding News email, which is sent every Friday. The Funding News email
announces new opportunities from OJP agencies and forthcoming webinars such as the one we're on today. To do so, access ojp.gov/subscribe, select the grants funding as a[n] area of interest.
There are also several ways to stay connected to BJA. Sign up for email updates via the text to subscribe feature. Just text your email address to 468-311 and you'll be subscribed. BJA also has several social media accounts that you can access for information, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also access BJA website for additional information on funding opportunities, publications, initiatives, just visit bja.ojp.gov to access.
And lastly, this slide promotes useful funding-related resources that may be of assistance. In addition to what has already been referenced previously, what's new here is the OJP Grant Funding Resource Center link, the DOJ Grants Financial Guide, and NIJ's CrimeSolutions.gov for best practices. They are all useful resources that may be of assistance as you prepare your application.
And with that, we're at the end of the presentation portion of today's webinar. You'll see on this slide where you can access the official solicitation on the BJA website. Note the application deadlines for both Grants.gov and JustGrants, which Jessa mentioned earlier, April 22nd and May 6th respectively.
So now we can kind of shift gears to answering some of the questions that were submitted via the Q&A box. We'll start with the ones that have already been submitted. And if you have a question at any time, you can go ahead and enter it in there. So the first one we have here. So on page 10 of the solicitation, it has a header with budget information and then a blank area that looks like it might be missing information, text below this header. Do you have budget information to share that relates specifically to the solicitation?
JESSA WILCOX: Thank you for that question. No. All of the information for the solicitation is in the solicitation or linked to in the OJP Grant Application Resource Guide. As you can probably tell about the solicitation, the spacing is a little awkward, kind of throughout this solicitation. That was just a function of the new JustGrants system kind of working out some of the kinks, but it's—everything that should be there is there, just the spacing's a little off. Thanks.
DARYL FOX: Next question. Is a law enforcement agency considered a local government for purposes of this grant? This particular entity operates the jail and was questioning that.
JESSA WILCOX: Yes. Local governments that operate, that have detention capacity, that operates jail is a perfect eligible applicant for this grant.
DARYL FOX: The next question is regarding eligibility. The solicitation doesn't specify state units of local government, as it's said in the slide. Can a sheriff's office apply?
JESSA WILCOX: Yes. The sheriff's office can apply, I'm sorry if the language is slightly different from what was in the solicitation, but it's for city governments, county governments, state governments, tribal, you just have to be operating a correctional facility.
DARYL FOX: The next question is, we are a county government. What type of paperwork do we need to satisfy the application requirement of a tribal authorizing resolution?
JESSA WILCOX: So first, I direct you to the link in the solicitation, but it is if you are—if you will be providing services on tribal lands or for a tribe, I'm not sure if that's applicable for the county government, but if it is I would just look—I'll click the link right in the solicitation and it'll bring you there.
DARYL FOX: Okay. Thanks for that. Those are the questions that were submitted today. Once again, if anybody has anything else, you can go ahead and submit that, we can address that during this time. We can just wait a little bit to see if anything else comes through. In the meantime, is there anything that you wanted to perhaps add, Jessa?
JESSA WILCOX: Nothing right now for me, Daryl, but if, you know, just please feel free to submit questions, as Daryl explains if you have any after, as you're going through the application and you're working through.
DARYL FOX: We do have a question that came in. Does the SF-424 workspace estimated budget amount request have to match the exact in JustGrants budget?
JESSA WILCOX: You know, I would actually contact the JustGrants helpdesk for that and ask—and pose it to them, just because this is the first year we're using JustGrants, so I just want to make sure that you get exactly the correct answer.
DARYL FOX: And another one has been received. Our Jail Administrator wants scanners to detect cellphones. Is that equipment an eligible expense?
JESSA WILCOX: Yes.
DARYL FOX: And another one came in. Please explain the purpose of the Appendix B, and who is exactly required to submit a resume for this grant opportunity?
JESSA WILCOX: Well, you don't have to submit—for Appendix B, you don't have to submit a resume, you just have to sign it—the signature and printed name, if your—if it applies. Resumes, for this would be the people who are actually going to be implementing the program.
DARYL FOX: And that's currently the last question that's come in, we can just wait a little bit more.
JESSA WILCOX: Sure.
DARYL FOX: And, you know, in the meantime, we'll just once again reference for any assistance, the Response Center is available to be contacted regarding solicitation, JustGrants has their own information as well—multiple ways of contact via email, website, or telephone. Okay. I think that would be it for today, so unless there's anything else, you know, on behalf of the Bureau of Justice Assistance and our panelist, Jessa Wilcox, thank you for joining today's webinar. This will end today's presentation. Thank you.
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