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Census of Medical Examiners and Coroners’ Offices (CMEC)

Grant to a USA Nonprofit, For-Profit, IHE,
or Agency to Analyze Criminal Justice Data

GrantWatch ID#: 181849
Agency Type:

Federal

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)

07/24/17 11:59 PM ET

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Grants to a USA nonprofit, for-profit, IHE, or government agency to conduct a census and analysis of statistical information from criminal justice systems throughout the nation. The purpose of this program is to offer insight into the USA’s medicolegal death investigation (MDI) system to identify trends.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is seeking applications for the implementation of a national Census of Medical Examiners and Coroners’ Office (CMEC), as part of its Law Enforcement Statistics portfolio. As the primary source for criminal justice statistics in the United States, BJS is responsible for the collection, analysis, publication, and dissemination of statistical information on the operations of criminal justice systems at all levels of government.

The CMEC furthers the Department’s mission by providing insight into the nation’s medicolegal death investigation (MDI) system process and infrastructure, to identify trends and challenges. This system is a critical operation in the criminal justice and public safety systems that contributes to the investigation of all suspicious or violent deaths, determines whether to pursue criminal investigations surrounding deaths, and acts as an early warning system in stances of increased mortality related to drug overdoses, biological or chemical terrorism.

Overview:

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), in collaboration with the National Institute of Justice, seeks applications for the administration of the 2018 Census of Medical Examiners and Coroners’ Offices (CMEC). The new census will obtain and update information about operations, workload (including backlogs), staffing, training, policies, and procedures of approximately 2,400 medical examiners and coroners’ (ME/C) offices that are responsible for providing medicolegal death investigation (MDI) services to America’s criminal justice system. Among other responsibilities articulated below, the recipient of funds will act as the data collection agent, update the roster of ME/C offices, revise and update the previous data collection instrument as necessary, administer the 2018 census, and transmit final deliverables and data files to BJS.

Project-Specific Information:

Since 2002, BJS has regularly conducted two surveys that have informed forensic science: the Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories (OMB # 1121-0269) and the CMEC (OMB # 1121-0296). BJS conducted the last CMEC in 2004. This census investigated the administration, expenditures, workload, records and evidence retention policies, and resources of the approximately 2,000 ME/C offices operating in the United States. It also gathered information on administrative characteristics of ME/C offices, including the type of office (e.g., coroner or medical examiner), staffing levels and titles (e.g., forensic pathologists, specialists, or support personnel), and size and type of jurisdiction the office served.

This iteration of the CMEC will be a 24-month project that provides an updated overview and understanding of the MDI system to help identify trends and challenges for the death investigation process and infrastructure.

Each year, ME/C offices investigate about 500,000 deaths and these deaths are generally sudden and unexpected, have no attending physician, or are suspicious or violent. This includes thousands of homicides and suicides, which eventually place demands on investigative operations in local law enforcement agencies. ME/Cs support public safety and the criminal justice system by providing death investigation services, including death scene investigations, medical investigations, reviews of medical records, medicolegal autopsies, determination of the cause and manner of death, and completion of the certificate of death. These activities inform decisions to pursue criminal investigations surrounding death and include providing testimony in courts as expert medical witnesses. Additionally, it is important to accurately report the nature and number of drug overdoses. Not only do ME/Cs maintain records on mortality rates related to drug overdoses, but they also are key to determining toxicity or infection that may be related to biological or chemical terrorism. As an operation within the criminal justice system, the MDI system is critical to understanding drug and violent crime related deaths. BJS seeks to understand the administrative and functional capacities of the ME/C offices. To meet these needs, the CMEC will capture information on—

-Staffing, including employee training, certification, and qualifications; resources, including budget, IT, examination capabilities (including toxicology, specialized laboratories and technologies, and additional needs)

Workload, including number of referrals, accepted cases, and types of cases, autopsies, and backlogs

-Policies and procedures in investigating potentially criminal deaths

In addition to activities funded under the award associated with this solicitation, planning and development of the 2018 CMEC should be informed by informational resources, including but not limited to-

1. Medical Examiners and Coroners’ Offices, 2004 (NCJ 2167156, BJS web, June 2007), a BJS report derived from the previous iteration of the CMEC, the corresponding survey instrument, and BJS’s series on Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories.

2. Preliminary Report on America’s Medicolegal Offices (2004) published for the National Institute of Justice Forensic Summit by the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME), which is a voluntary, professional organization that accredits ME/C offices. NAME described the need for increased standardization, enhanced training, and greater staffing for the MDI system.

3. The National Research Council’s Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward (2009) outlines the use of databases, such as National Crime Information Center Unidentified and Missing Person and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), by ME/C offices for unidentified decedents of which there are about 13,000 per year. The report also details the need for more standardization in training, accreditation of offices, greater access to needed technology, and staffing and funding issues.

4. 2016 reports published by White House’s National Science and Technology Council: Strengthening the Medicolegal Death-Investigation System: Improving Data Systems and Strengthening the Medicolegal Death-Investigation System: Accreditation and Certification a Path Forward.

5. Coordination with applicable professional organizations and stakeholder community. This may include organizations who accredit offices and certify practitioners, professional associations, or academic institutions with experience in the MDI field.

6. Academic and practitioner research in the field of forensic science and MDI.

Goals, Objectives, and Deliverables:

ME/C offices are inextricably linked to the investigation of suspicious and violent deaths, investigating roughly 500,000 occurrences every year. The recipient of funds will administer the 2018 CMEC, the goal of which are to 1) generate statistics that will help develop a detailed understanding of the U.S. MDI system. 2) gather information that will help address training, staffing, or jurisdictional coverage needs in the MDI system, and 3) further develop the understanding of the relationship between law enforcement agencies and ME/C offices. Subject areas covered by the census will include, but are not limited to:

-Administrative characteristics of ME/C offices (e.g., type of office, structure, staffing, training, population served, resources, and caseload)
-Policies related to data, records, and evidence retention
-How ME/C offices handle investigations involving unidentified or unclaimed decedents
-Levels and methods of interaction with law enforcement agencies covering shared jurisdiction
-Major changes in the ME/C system since the previous census.

Consistent with the use of a cooperative agreement, BJS will have direct oversight and involvement with the successful applicant in implementing the program. This will not involve day-to-day project management.

The applicant should briefly describe how they would accomplish each deliverable in the time frame specified and estimate the costs associated with each. This should include (1) the specific strategies or innovative approaches that would be conducted to meet each outcome, (2) the capabilities and demonstration of the expertise that will enable them to meet each outcome, and (3) cost estimates for performing the work. The application should describe the applicant’s knowledge of the challenges and complexities associated with (1) developing the survey instrumentation, (2) developing a comprehensive census frame of ME/C, (3) achieving adequate response rates to minimize bias in the national estimates and the proposed approaches to collecting data, (4) developing and testing the survey instrument, and (5) disseminating the findings.

Applications should include a statement describing key trends and challenges with the MDI system and how the CMEC survey may address these. The recipient of funds will complete all work associated with successfully fielding and delivering data for the CMEC according to BJS’s established time frames.

$1,000,000

BJS expects to make one (1) award.

BJS expects to award of up to $1 million. The award floor is $500,000.

BJS expects to make an award covering up to a 24-month period of performance to begin October 1, 2017.

Eligible applicants are national, regional, state, or local public and private entities, including for-profit (commercial) and nonprofit organizations (including tribal nonprofit and for-profit organizations), faith-based and community organizations, institutions of higher education (including tribal institutions of higher education), federally recognized Indian tribal governments as determined by the Secretary of the Interior, and units of local government that support initiatives to improve the functioning of the criminal justice system. For-profit organizations must forgo any profit or management fee.

BJS 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 the funding and managing the entire project.

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

Applicants must register with Grants.gov prior to submitting an application. All applications are due by 11:59 PM eastern time on July 24, 2017.

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 may take as long as 10 business days to complete.

Once the SAM registration/renewal is complete, the information transfer from SAM to Grants.gov may take as long as 48 hours. OJP recommends that the applicant register or renew registration with SAM as early as possible.

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

OJP urges applicants to submit applications at least 72 hours prior to the application due date, in order 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.

View this opportunity on Grants.gov:
https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html?keywords=BJS-2017-12660

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

For technical assistance with submitting an application, contact the Grants.gov Customer Support Hotline:

800-518-4726 / 606-545-5035
support@grants.gov

For assistance with any other requirements of this solicitation, contact:

Connor Brooks, BJS Statistician
202-307-0765
AskBJS@usdoj.gov

Include “CMEC” in the subject line.

16.734

BJS-2017-12660

See the full text of this grant

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