U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), National Institute of Justice (NIJ) i
04/25/18 11:59 PM ET
Grants to USA and territories nonprofits, for-profits, government agencies, tribes, IHEs, and certain qualified individuals for research addressing drug law enforcement. Applicants are advised to ensure the required registrations well in advance of the deadline. The purpose of this program is to better combat the nation’s opioid epidemic, and reduce violent and other drug-related crime, through research that promotes effective law enforcement, court, and corrections responses to illegal drug markets (including diversion of legal drugs).
The Department has identified two drug priorities for this solicitation: (1) drug trafficking, markets, and use related to heroin and other opioids (including fentanyl, diverted pharmaceuticals, synthetic drugs, and analogues); and (2) illegal marijuana markets and drug- related violent crime.
The Nation is experiencing an unprecedented increase in drug overdoses and deaths arising from increased availability of heroin, fentanyl, diverted pharmaceuticals, and novel psychoactive substances (NPS or synthetic drugs). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2016, approximately 64,000 deaths were attributed to drugs, with a third of deaths due to synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and NPS2. NPS are chemically engineered compounds with a capacity for rapid development of many newly emergent, high-purity and high-potency analogues. Analysis of trends in overdose deaths indicates the first wave involving prescription opioids began in 1999; that was followed by a second wave involving heroin in 2010, and then a third wave involving synthetic opioids in 2013.3 Currently NPS are used in numerous combinations with heroin, counterfeit pills, and cocaine; and drugs are often adulterated with toxic substances during production or consumption. The President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis called for coordinated federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement efforts to reduce illegal drug supply including counterfeit pills, increased interdiction of precursor chemicals and synthetic drugs through postal and other points of entry, and enhanced information sharing to support law enforcement in the investigation of controlled substances diversion cases and surveillance.
The Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) that schedules drugs according to potential for abuse and accepted medical treatment is designed to strengthen law enforcement through drug classification and regulation of drug manufacture, importation, possession, and use. Prosecutors charge offenses as defined under the CSA and State drug laws including mandatory minimum sentences specific to drug amount and other crime elements. The Federal Analogue Act (21 U.S.C. § 813) under the CSA allows any chemical that is both "substantially similar" to a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II (e.g., heroin or fentanyl, respectively) and “pharmacologically similar” to be treated as if it were also in those schedules. Recently Kentucky, Georgia, and other States began to pass drug laws that define fentanyl derivatives as a Schedule I substance. However, detection, interdiction, and identification of opioid analogues is challenging. Controlled substance classification of emerging opioids lags behind new drug analogue production, and drug laws are not broadly written to account for all possible synthetic drug derivatives. The effects of these changes in State drug legislation on successful prosecution are not yet known.
Key partners in law enforcement and prosecution efforts to combat the opioid epidemic are medical examiner and coroner offices, forensic science laboratories, and other public safety and public health stakeholders. Their multidisciplinary expertise and pooled resources can support effective information collection and analysis, and criminal investigation case building for successful prosecutions. Collaborative efforts can: expand understanding of drug trafficking, markets, and use for targeted interdiction; contribute to the examination and projection of drug use trajectories (e.g., opioids to and from heroin, marijuana, and emerging drugs in connection with drug markets); further the identification of drug deterrent and interdiction opportunities; and support strategies to pursue organized crime targets. Research on criminal investigation and prosecution, drug intelligence, and community surveillance related to opioids is lacking.
Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance and yet the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. In 2016, approximately 24 million Americans reported current marijuana use; this represents about 8.9% of the population, which is more than has been reported since 2002.5 The demand for marijuana is widespread throughout the United States, and filled through a combination of illicit domestic produced marijuana, diverted domestic State-approved marijuana, and foreign produced marijuana trafficked into the United States. Marijuana is smuggled across U.S. borders at official points of entry for passengers or cargo (such as land, air, and sea ports, and international mail facilities), or between the ports of entry via illegal border crossings (including underground tunnels, ultralight aircraft, and panga boats), and transported via major hubs for local distribution. Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) import marijuana illegally across the southwest border; in FY 2016, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized over 800,000 kilograms of marijuana from over 21,000 incidents along the southwest border alone.6 The direction of drug flow, however, cannot be assumed. The Department of Homeland Security recently identified the bidirectional flow of illicit drugs along the northern border as a threat to public safety.7 Primarily Asian transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) operate grow houses in Canada and the West Coast, and increased trafficking is anticipated with Canadian legislation to legalize marijuana use. The potential for financial gain in this high-volume cash market is considerable. TCOs and DTOs compete with domestic organized crime organizations to control drug production, distribution, consolidation of drug proceeds, and money laundering. Research on the violent and other crime associated with illegal marijuana markets is lacking.
With this solicitation, NIJ seeks proposals for applied research that examines the feasibility, impact, and cost efficiency of evidence-based tools, protocols, and policies for State, tribal, and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies that address two drug priorities: (1) drug trafficking, markets, and use related to heroin and other opioids (including fentanyl, diverted pharmaceuticals, synthetic drugs, and analogues); and (2) illegal marijuana markets and drug-related violent crime. All proposed projects should examine novel approaches to common problems, demonstrate methods to generate actionable information, promote innovative partnerships between stakeholders, and add value to resources that can be sustained long-term and replicated by other jurisdictions for a national scale impact.
Any awards under this solicitation would be made under statutory authority provided by a full-year appropriations act for FY 2018. As of the writing of this solicitation, the Department of Justice is operating under a short-term "Continuing Resolution"; no full-year appropriation for the Department has been enacted for FY 2018.
NIJ’s drugs and crime research portfolio promotes cost-efficient law enforcement, court, and corrections responses to illegal drug markets (including diversion of legal drugs) and violent and other criminal behavior. Through the program, NIJ studies crime reduction using several approaches: epidemiology (patterns among drugs, violence, and crime to inform communities and service providers); prevention and intervention (policies and programs to prevent or reduce drug-related crime and violence); drug markets (drug production and distribution information to inform law enforcement); market disruption (drug interdiction and other strategies to disrupt or deter markets); and forensic science and technology (drug recognition and detection for law enforcement, medicolegal death investigation, and offender monitoring).
Over the last several years, NIJ has focused research on policies, practices, and resources available to law enforcement to deter, investigate, prosecute, and address opioid use and markets. In FY 2012, NIJ funded projects that examined anti-diversion legislation, as well as Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) and other resources, for more efficient illegal prescription drug market interventions. Based on the widespread and dramatic increases in drug and clandestine laboratory seizures, forensic laboratory cases, overdoses and deaths, NIJ prioritized opioids and NPS in FY 2017. The four grants awarded will study: evidence collection and preservation protocols to improve manslaughter prosecutions of drug dealers; an opioid metric intelligence platform that integrates PDMP and other data for information sharing; drug distribution networks combining law enforcement intelligence with community policing for effective interdiction; and data mining toxicology results from suspected drug-related death and drug-impaired driving cases to track emerging opioids and other trends. NIJ’s Controlled Substances and Forensic Toxicology Program has funded basic research and development to improve drug recognition and detection including research on emerging opioid analogues and other NPS. NIJ currently collaborates with the Office of National Drug Control Policy on research under the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Fentanyl Profiling Program to advance drug testing protocols for drug seizures.
Under the FY 2016 solicitation for Research and Evaluation on Drugs and Crime, NIJ awarded two grants to study the effects of drug legalization and decriminalization on law enforcement, applicable to State, tribal, and local jurisdictions. One grant will examine drug trafficking case and organization information across jurisdictions and over time to address: how State marijuana laws impacted law enforcement activities; and if the structure, operations, and facilitation of marijuana trafficking enterprises evolved in response to legislative and enforcement changes. The second grant examines the impact of Washington State’s Initiative 502 legalizing recreational marijuana to address: how law enforcement in different jurisdictions handle drug offenses and offenders, particularly involving marijuana, before and after legalization; and the effects of marijuana legalization on crime in urban, rural, tribal, and campus jurisdictions — within State and across borders.
This FY 2018 solicitation seeks investigator-initiated proposals to conduct applied research that examines evidence-based tools, protocols, and policies concerning drug trafficking, markets, and use, applicable to State, tribal, and local jurisdictions as follows.
NIJ has identified two drug priorities for this solicitation:
1. Drug Trafficking, Markets, and Use Related to Heroin and Other Opioids (including fentanyl, diverted pharmaceuticals, synthetic drugs, and analogues)
a) Criminal Investigation and Prosecution (related to narcotics law enforcement, forensic science, and medicolegal death investigation)
b) Drug Intelligence and Community Surveillance
2. Illegal Marijuana Markets and Drug-Related Violent Crime
Applications must address one of these two drug priorities as described above. Other drugs may only be addressed in addition to NIJ’s drug priorities with clear justification relating to research and practice, such as drugs produced or used in combination. Applications for funding research that fall outside of these two priorities will not be considered.
A single application may not address both priorities, but researchers may submit a separate application to study a second priority. Each application will be reviewed independently, and the success of one proposed project must not depend on a separate proposed project.
Background information for this solicitation is available on NIJ’s Drugs and Crime Research webpage, along with information on topical meeting materials and past grant awards. Highlights across NIJ’s social science, forensics, and technology portfolios include: the Controlled Substances9 and Forensic Toxicology, Research on Illegal Prescription Drug Market Interventions, and the Drug Recognition and Impairment Research Meeting.
Applicants are encouraged to review information on NIJ’s diverse drugs and crime research portfolio, and consider other FY 2018 funding opportunities suitable for more basic research proposals that are outside the scope of this applied research solicitation, or for proposals on drug-related topics that are requested under other solicitations.
Drug Priorities and Potential Research Questions:
1. Drug Trafficking, Markets, and Use Related to Heroin and Other Opioids
a) Criminal Investigation and Prosecution
Medical examiners, coroners, forensic laboratories, and criminal prosecutors rely upon information collected by law enforcement and investigators to support narcotics law enforcement, forensic science, and medicolegal death investigations. State drug laws that define offenses for prosecutors are changing to counter criminal efforts to evade detection and confound current drug laws, such as rapid development of drug derivatives not yet scheduled. Narcotics crime and death scene investigation protocols can be enhanced to increase the scope and quality of information and to facilitate investigations, determinations of cause and manner of death, and prosecutions. Seizures may involve precursor chemicals, drugs, pill presses, and other clandestine laboratory materials at postal and other points of entry or in homes, commercial real estate, and remote properties. Information collected on-site at crime and death scenes may describe suspected drugs, paraphernalia, residue samples, and other evidence. The results of forensic analysis for bulk or trace amounts of controlled substances can inform and direct the toxicology examinations for both criminal and death investigations. Evidence available at nonfatal overdose and death scenes, as well as information from emergency responders, poison control interactions, hospital treatments, and related toxicology testing can inform investigation and case building strategies.
NIJ seeks proposals for research on criminal case investigation and prosecution related to narcotics law enforcement, forensic science, and medicolegal death investigation. Research questions of interest include, but are not limited to:
-How can information collection at suspected drug crime and death scenes, or non-fatal drug overdose events, be improved to support investigations and prosecution strategies?
-How can information sharing across agencies be improved to support investigations and prosecution strategies, whether to build the instant case or connect other potentially related cases?
-How can information sharing across agencies help prioritize evidence processing and investigative assignments as a given case evolves to conserve resources?
-What effect do new State synthetic drug laws have on investigations and prosecution strategies? If they increase the number of cases or convictions, for what types of cases? If not, how can outstanding legal and resource challenges be addressed?
b) Drug Intelligence and Community Surveillance
Information coordination and analysis are crucial to understanding drug market and use trends, identifying drug deterrent and interdiction opportunities, and pursuing organized crime targets. Law enforcement and other agencies require data coordination, consolidation, deconfliction, correlation, and trend analysis to inform policy and practice. Federal support of State and local programs is provided by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program, the Community Oriented Policing Services’ Anti-Heroin Task Force Program, and drug monitoring initiatives and other public safety and public health collaborative partnerships. Program challenges include interpretation of drug and toxicology information as drug markets rapidly transition. Concerns include information accuracy and timeliness, quality assurance and analysis by trained experts, and effective dissemination across public safety and public health agencies and jurisdictions.
NIJ seeks proposals for research on improvements to aggregate data collection, analysis, and dissemination that support drug intelligence and community surveillance goals. Research questions of interest include, but are not limited to:
-How can provisional data address immediate information needs, and what means are available to assess validity and reliability of information? What are the actionable data, and how is the impact of actionable data measured in terms of public safety goals?
-How is information from interdictions used to estimate the flow of drugs? How do forensic laboratory results inform interdiction activities? What other information can be used to efficiently identify drug seizure targets?
-How best can public safety and public health stakeholders examine and project drug use trajectories in conjunction with drug markets ― such as the transition from opioids to and from heroin, marijuana, emerging novel drugs, and potentially lethal drug combinations?
-What is the impact of current drug intelligence and community surveillance efforts on drug deterrence, interdiction, and pursuit of organized crime targets? What metrics assess impact, and what are the demonstrable effects on crime prevention, drug market intervention, and other criminal justice outcomes?
2. Illegal Marijuana Markets and Drug-Related Violent Crime
Despite efforts by law enforcement to control marijuana, illicit drug markets are fueled by illicit domestic drug production, diversion of domestic State-approved marijuana, and trafficking of foreign product into the U.S. Domestic production may entail blatantly illegal crops such as those found in public lands, or violations that subvert State laws permitting limited grows for personal use. Illicit or black market marijuana is smuggled across U.S. borders at official points of entry for passengers or cargo (such as land, air, and sea ports, and international mail facilities), or between the ports of entry via illegal border crossings (including underground tunnels, ultralight aircraft, and panga boats), and transported via major hubs for local distribution. The Nation’s northern and southwest borders are targets for illegal trafficking of marijuana with the flow of drugs and criminal proceeds moving in both directions. Criminal activities surround drug production, distribution, consolidation of drug proceeds, and money laundering. Mexican DTOs, Asian TCOs, and domestic criminal organizations compete for financial gain in this high-volume cash market.
NIJ seeks proposals for research on the violent and other crime associated with illegal marijuana markets.
Research questions of interest include, but are not limited to:
-Is there any relationship between illegal marijuana markets and violent or other crime in the United States?
-If so, are there any trends or patterns related to location?
-If so, are there predictive factors that may be used to prevent or control associated violent and other crimes?
Additional Guidance Applicable to All Research Categories
-Randomized controlled trial (RCT) studies are a powerful, much needed tool for building scientific evidence about what works. Therefore, studies employing RCT methods to assess the effectiveness of programs and practices may be given higher priority consideration. RCT applications with strong designs measuring outcomes of self-evident policy importance are strongly encouraged. A strong RCT design should include low sample attrition, sufficient sample size, close adherence to random assignment, valid outcome measures, and statistical analyses.
-NIJ is especially interested in supporting research relevant to small, rural, and tribal jurisdictions.
-Applications must demonstrate cultural competence by addressing regional, racial/ethnic, language, and other diversity issues in proposed research protocol and team capabilities, as applicable.
-Each partnering agency must provide a letter of commitment clarifying information, staff, and other resource access.
-Each research team member (staff, contractor, consultant, agency partner, etc.) must be identified with a clearly specified role and projected level of effort, regardless of compensation.
-Any potential conflict of interest must be addressed if any research team member may benefit financially from, or is/was involved in the development of, what is being researched. (Also see Research and Evaluation Independence and Integrity.)
-The research proposed must result in knowledge and tools that have potential value to other jurisdictions for a national impact.
-Applications for research that leverage projects actively supported by Federal, private, or other entities must clarify the proposed value added, how information collected and other resources funded by NIJ will remain separate, and plans for dissemination including public archive of work products.
New Investigator/Early Career Opportunity:
NIJ is interested in supporting researchers who are early in their careers and new to NIJ’s research grant portfolios, specifically non-tenured assistant professors, or equivalent full-time staff scientist positions in a research institution. Applications that include a principal investigator (PI) who meets the criteria may, in appropriate circumstances, be given special consideration in award decisions.
At the time of application submission, the proposed PI must:
-Hold a non-tenured assistant professor appointment at an accredited institution of higher education in the United States or an equivalent full-time staff scientist position at a research institution
-Have completed their terminal degree or post-graduate clinical training within the ten (10) years prior to September 30, 2018
-Never have received NIJ funding as a PI on a research project with the exception of Graduate Research Fellows or Data Resources Program grantees
Note that NIJ grant awards are made to the applicant institution and do not transfer with the proposed PI to other institutions; the institution that applies for the award should be the institution that will manage the award for the duration of the project period. The applicant should identify that this is a New Investigator/Early Career proposal on the title page of their application.
Goals and Objectives:
The goal of this program is to support the Department’s mission to combat the Nation's opioid epidemic, and to reduce violent and other drug-related crime, through research that promotes effective law enforcement, court, and corrections responses to illegal drug markets (including diversion of legal drugs). The objective of this solicitation is to support applied research that examines the feasibility, impact, and cost efficiency of evidence-based tools, protocols, and policies for State, tribal, and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies to address two drug priorities: (1) drug trafficking, markets, and use related to heroin and other opioids (including fentanyl, diverted pharmaceuticals, synthetic drugs, and analogues); and (2) illegal marijuana markets and drug-related violent crime. Specifically, NIJ seeks proposals for applied research concerning opioids in two areas — (a) criminal investigation and prosecution, and (b) drug intelligence and community surveillance — that relate to narcotics law enforcement, forensic science, and medicolegal death investigation. Research findings should benefit first responders, law enforcement, forensic science laboratories, medical examiner and coroner offices, and other public safety and public health stakeholders.
NIJ encourages researchers to seek guidance from, or partner with, these stakeholder groups. Such associations foster a greater understanding of the issues unique to their respective fields, and may strengthen the scope of the proposed research plan. Proposed projects should investigate novel approaches to common problems, demonstrate methods to generate actionable information, promote innovative partnerships between stakeholders, and add value to resources that can be sustained long-term and replicated by other jurisdictions for a national scale impact.
GrantWatch ID#: 178846
NIJ anticipates funding will be available for four or more grants across the two drug priorities, and funding will be designated for relevant research in Indian Country and Alaska Native Villages.
Awards will normally not exceed a three-year period of performance.
To allow time for (among other things) any necessary post-award review and financial clearance by OJP of the proposed budget and for any associated responses or other action(s) that may be required of the recipient, applicants should propose an award start date of January 1, 2019.
NIJ may, in certain cases, provide additional funding in future years to awards made under its research, development, and evaluation solicitations, through continuation awards.
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. 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 project, and monitoring and appropriately managing any subawards.
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.
What will not be funded:
-Applications to primarily purchase resources, deliver services, or maintain current projects (although a budget may include purchases necessary to conduct research, development, demonstration, evaluation, or analysis).
-Applications that are not responsive to this specific solicitation.
-Applications that propose research on more than one drug priority in a single application (researchers may submit a separate application to study a second drug priority).
-Applications that lack clear targets, such as a single proposal to research all drugs, without demonstrating relevance to the research proposed and expertise in each drug priority.
-Applications to conduct national surveys, basic laboratory research, purely descriptive studies, or single-site evaluations without stated potential benefit to other jurisdictions.
-Applications to conduct research supported by other NIJ solicitations or other federal research programs without explanation including proposed value added.
NIJ anticipates at least $2.5 million will be available to fund four or more grants across the two drug priorities, and at least $500,000 will be available for relevant research in Indian Country and Alaska Native Villages.
Applicants must register with Grants.gov prior to submitting an application.
Applicants must provide a Unique Entity Identifier (DUNS Number) and System for Award Management (SAM). A DUNS number is usually received within 1-2 business days upon request.
An applicant must be registered in SAM to successfully register in Grants.gov. 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 Grants.gov until Grants.gov receives the SAM registration information. Once the SAM registration/renewal is complete, the information transfer from SAM to Grants.gov 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 25, 2018.
To be considered timely, an application must be submitted by the application deadline using Grants.gov, and the applicant must have received a validation message from Grants.gov 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 Grants.gov, and to correct in a timely fashion any problems that may have caused a rejection notification.
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