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Research and Development in Forensic Science for Criminal Justice Purposes

Grants to USA Nonprofits, For-Profits, IHEs, Agencies,
and Individuals for Forensic Sciences Research

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), National Institute of Justice (NIJ)

Deadline Date:

04/23/18 11:59 PM ET


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Grants to USA and territories nonprofits, for-profits, government agencies, IHEs, and certain qualified individuals for basic or applied research and development initiatives within the field of forensic science. Applicants are advised to create or verify the required registrations well in advance of the deadline date.

With this solicitation, NIJ seeks proposals for basic or applied research and development projects. An NIJ forensic science research and development grant supports a discrete, specified, circumscribed project that will: (1) increase the body of knowledge to guide and inform forensic science policy and practice, or (2) lead to the production of useful material(s), device(s), system(s), or method(s) that have the potential for forensic application.

The intent of this program is to direct the findings of basic scientific research; research and development in broader scientific fields applicable to forensic science; and ongoing forensic science research toward the development of highly discriminating, accurate, reliable, cost-effective, and rapid methods for the identification, analysis, and interpretation of physical evidence for criminal justice purposes. Projects should address the challenges and needs of the forensic science community. The operational needs discussed at NIJ’s FY 2016 Forensic Science TWG meeting may be found on Additional research needs of the forensic science community can be found at the Organization of Scientific Area Committees website. While the goals and deliverables of proposed projects are not required to result in immediate solutions to the posted challenges and needs, proposals should at a minimum address the foundational work that will lead to eventual solutions.

Program-Specific Information:

This solicitation seeks applications for funding to support basic or applied research and development forensic science projects. For the purposes of this solicitation, the following definitions apply:

-Forensic - Of, relating to, or used in legal proceedings or argumentation.

-Science - The observation, identification, description, experimental investigations, and theoretical explanation of natural phenomena.

-Basic research - A systematic study directed toward fuller knowledge or understanding of the fundamental aspects of phenomena and of observable facts without specific applications towards processes or products in mind. Basic research may include activities with broad applications in mind. (For the purposes of this solicitation, basic research must include activities with broad application to forensic sciences related to the criminal justice system.)

-Applied research - A systematic study to gain knowledge or understanding necessary to determine the means by which a recognized and specific need may be met.5 (For the purposes of this solicitation, the specific need(s) being met must relate to the improvement of forensic science services for criminal justice purposes.)

-Development - The systematic application of knowledge or understanding, directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, and systems or methods, including design, development, and improvement of prototypes and new processes to meet specific requirements.6 (For the purposes of this solicitation, the development of forensic technologies and methods should assist in answering questions posed in criminal investigations or increase crime laboratory capacity to meet the demand for forensic science services.)

Funding priorities for this program are expected to align with the Department of Justice’s mission. Proposed projects should address the current technology challenges encountered by forensic scientists by generating new knowledge or tools that will lead to better methods, moving the state-of-the-art forward, and otherwise resolving identified issues that will ultimately result in improved ability to enforce the law, ensure public safety, prevent and control crime, and ensure fair and impartial administration of justice. While the goals and deliverables of proposed projects are not required to result in immediate solutions to the posted challenges and needs, proposals should at a minimum address the foundational work that will lead to eventual solutions. Proposals are expected to identify the focus areas (e.g., forensic science discipline(s)) intended to benefit from the project. The focus areas should be listed in the keywords on the title page. Some examples are listed below.

-DNA and forensic biology
-Forensic crime scene analysis
-Forensic anthropology and forensic odontology
-Bloodstain pattern analysis
-Controlled substances
-Fire debris analysis and arson scene investigations
-Firearms and toolmark identification
-Latent print
-Shoeprint/tire tread examination
-Questioned documents
-Trace evidence
-Forensic toxicology
-Medicolegal death investigations, including forensic pathology

Indicators of successful proposals may include relationships/collaborations with operational, accredited crime laboratories and demonstrated abilities to produce scholarly products.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 177785

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

NIJ funding for an individual research or development project rarely exceeds $500,000 annually, although total funding for projects requiring multiple years to complete has exceeded $1 million in previous years. In FY 2017, the average forensic science research and development award was approximately $233,000 per year.

Term of Contract:

In FY2017, the average project period was two years, and awards will normally not exceed a three-year period of performance.


  • City or township governments
  • County governments
  • For profit organizations other than small businesses
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Private institutions of higher education
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • See RFP and/or Grant Guidelines for full eligibility
  • Single entities
  • Small businesses
  • State governments

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

In general, NIJ is authorized to make grants to, or enter into contracts or cooperative agreements with, States (including territories), units of local government, federally recognized Indian tribal governments that perform law enforcement functions (as determined by the Secretary of the Interior), nonprofit and for-profit organizations (including tribal nonprofit and for-profit organizations), institutions of higher education (including tribal institutions of higher education), and certain qualified individuals. Federal agencies are eligible to apply. (Any award made to a federal agency will be made as an inter-agency reimbursable agreement.) Foreign governments, foreign organizations, and foreign colleges and universities are not eligible to apply.

All recipients and subrecipients (including any for-profit organization) must forgo any profit or management fee.

NIJ welcomes applications under which two or more entities would carry out the federal award; however, only one entity may be the applicant. Any others must be proposed as subrecipients (subgrantees). The applicant must be the entity that would have primary responsibility for carrying out the award, including administering funding, managing the entire research project, and monitoring and appropriately managing any subawards (“subgrants”).

Under this solicitation, any particular applicant entity may submit more than one application, as long as each application proposes a different project in response to the solicitation. Also, an entity may be proposed as a subrecipient (subgrantee) in more than one application.

NIJ may elect to fund applications submitted under this FY 2018 solicitation in future fiscal years, dependent on, among other considerations, the merit of the applications and on the availability of appropriations.

What will not be funded:

-Proposals that are not responsive to this specific solicitation. This includes: proposals that do not contain a research component or do not respond to the specific goals of this solicitation; and proposals that do not clearly address criminal justice concerns in the United States.
-Proposals primarily to purchase equipment, materials, or supplies. (A budget may include these items if they are necessary to conduct research, development, demonstration, evaluation, or analysis. Proposals that include equipment purchases should include a discussion of how federally funded equipment is proposed to be used after the funded work has been completed and/or the project period has ended. Note that OJP may issue specific equipment disposition instructions in appropriate circumstances.)
-Proposals primarily to provide training.
-Proposals that provide direct criminal/forensic laboratory services.
-Proposals in the area of digital evidence or digital forensics. Digital evidence includes information stored or transmitted in binary form that may be relied on in court. It is typically found on computer hard drives, mobile phones, personal digital assistants, CDs/DVDs, flash memory equipment and other electronic devices. Digital evidence is commonly associated with electronic crime (e.g., child pornography or credit card fraud); however, digital evidence can also be used as forensic evidence in other types of crimes.
-Proposals that focus primarily on crimes directly related to nonhuman animals. (A project may include nonhuman animals, if: (a.) they are necessary to conduct the proposed research [e.g., the use of animals or other organisms for experimental modeling], or (b.) the nonhuman biological components are analogous to the physical evidence that would be examined in criminal investigations involving human suspects and victims.)
-Proposals focusing on the estimation of postmortem interval (i.e., time since death) whose research design is not novel nor applicable across the geography of the United States. The primary intent of these studies must be to generate new knowledge or contribute to the knowledge in the forensic scientific literature that is applicable to locations other than the one(s) being evaluated.
-Proposals that focus on predicting the behavior of criminal offenders or indicators that result in victimization.
-Proposals that seek to administer surveys on the perceptions of physical evidence collection policies among evidence examiners.
-Proposals that focus on legal factors involved in how physical evidence is processed.
-Proposals for social science research whose primary focus is not identification, collection, testing and interpretation of physical evidence.
-Proposals focused on criminal psychology.
-Proposals involving the use of canines, (e.g. detector dogs).
-Proposals on voice authentication.
-Proposals on deception detection.
-Costs associated with conducting conferences. A conference is a symposium, seminar, workshop, or any other organized and formal meeting, whether conducted face-to-face or via the Internet, where individuals assemble (or meet virtually) to exchange information and views or explore or clarify a defined subject, problem, or area of knowledge, whether or not a published report results from such meeting. A meeting where a gathering discusses general matters as part of a normal course of doing business is not considered a conference. Funds may be used to attend conferences for the purposes of dissemination of research findings.

Pre-Application Information:

Applicants must register with prior to submitting an application.

Applicants must acquire a unique entity identifier (currently, a DUNS number). A DUNS number is usually received within 1-2 business days.

Applicants must acquire or maintain registration with SAM. Each applicant must update or renew its SAM registration at least annually to maintain an active status. SAM registration and renewal can take as long as 10 business days to complete (2 more weeks to acquire an EIN).

An application cannot be successfully submitted in until receives the SAM registration information. Once the SAM registration/renewal is complete, the information transfer from SAM to can take as long as 48 hours. OJP recommends that the applicant register or renew registration with SAM as early as possible.

All applications are due by 11:59 PM eastern time on April 23, 2018.

To be considered timely, an application must be submitted by the application deadline using, and the applicant must have received a validation message from that indicates successful and timely submission.

OJP urges applicants to submit applications at least 72 hours prior to the application due date, to allow time for the applicant to receive validation messages or rejection notifications from, and to correct in a timely fashion any problems that may have caused a rejection notification.

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Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

For assistance with any other requirements of this solicitation, contact the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) Response Center:

Toll-free: 1-800-851-3420
TTY: 301-240-6310
Fax: 301-240-5830
Web Chat:

CFDA Number:


Funding or Pin Number:


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Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)