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Strengthening the Medical Examiner-Coroner System Program

Grants to USA Nonprofits, For-Profits, Agencies, and
IHEs to Improve the Coroner/Medical Examiner System

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

Deadline Date:

04/06/18 11:59 PM ET


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Grants to USA and territories nonprofits, for-profits, government agencies, IHEs, and certain qualified individuals to improve the nation’s medical examiner/coroner system. Applicants are advised to complete or verify the required registrations well in advance of the deadline date.


With this solicitation, NIJ seeks proposals to strengthen the medical examiner/coroner (ME/C) system in the United States. Through this program, NIJ will support grants in two focus areas by:

(1) Supporting forensic pathology fellowships; and
(2) Providing resources necessary for medical examiner and coroner offices to achieve accreditation.

Program-Specific Information:

The National Science and Technology Council’s Fast-Track Action Committee on Strengthening the Medicolegal-Death-Investigation System’s (FTAC-SMDIS) report titled Strengthening the Medicolegal-Death-Investigation System: Improving Data Systems notes that death investigations performed by ME/C offices are vital to criminal justice by investigating violent deaths. Of the estimated 2.6 million deaths annually, ME/C offices investigate nearly 500,000 cases in approximately 2,400 jurisdictions. FTAC-SMDIS found that the ME/C community lacks adequate personnel and resources to address the country’s medicolegal death investigation (MDI) needs. In addition, FTAC-SMDIS reports that there are systemic issues with death investigation data quality and infrastructure, inadequate facilities, and inconsistent expertise levels. Other reports such as the 2009 National Academy of Sciences Report, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward have also asserted a need to address deficient facilities, equipment, staffing, education, and training for MDI.4

NIJ’s Strengthening the Medical Examiner-Coroner System is a competitive program designed to support the enhancement of MDI services and increase the supply of forensic pathologists nationwide. NIJ is seeking proposals in two purpose areas:

-Purpose Area 1: Forensic Pathology Fellowships.
-Purpose Area 2: Medical Examiner-Coroner Office Accreditation.

Goals, Objectives, and Deliverables:

The goals of the Strengthening the Medical Examiner-Coroner System program are to:
1. Increase the supply of qualified forensic pathology practitioners; and
2. Strengthen the quality and consistency of ME/C services.

Proposals are expected to clearly identify the purpose area to which they are applying.

Purpose Area 1 - Forensic Pathology Fellowships (Competition ID: NIJ-2018-13744):

Background: There is an extreme shortage of board-certified forensic pathologists in the United States, as underscored in the 2009 report by the National Academies of Sciences on strengthening forensic science in the United States. This call was reaffirmed by several recent reports developed through national initiatives dedicated to improve the quality and practice of forensic sciences. Both the National Commission on Forensic Science and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Fast-Track Action Committee on Strengthening the Medicolegal Death Investigation System recommended investments in workforce development initiatives for forensic pathologists in order to increase their quantity and thereby support the medicolegal death investigation needs of our nation.

Board-certified forensic pathologists are physicians who have completed, at a minimum, four years of medical school and three to four years of medical specialty training in anatomical pathology or anatomical and clinical pathology, followed by an accredited fellowship year in forensic pathology. Forensic pathology fellowships provide specialized training in autopsies and death scene investigations under direct supervision by a board-certified forensic pathologist, as well as general training in courtroom testimony, criminalistics, anthropology, odontology, toxicology, research techniques, and other forensic science-related specialties.

Through this funding opportunity, applications are being solicited from institutions with current ACGME accredited forensic pathology fellowship programs to recruit quality candidates who have completed all necessary medical education and pathology residency requirements. This program will strengthen the ME/C system by increasing the number and quality of board-certified forensic pathologists.

Agencies that are awarded funds under this purpose area will be required to provide information to NIJ, generally in the form of semi-annual progress reports, throughout the duration of the award. These reports should describe all relevant progress, including any issues encountered and/or successes achieved. Awardees are encouraged to report to NIJ any additional information about the fellowship program that may assist NIJ to better serve the MDI community.

Purpose Area 2 - Medical Examiner-Coroner Office Accreditation (Competition ID: Competition ID: NIJ-2018-13745)

Background: Accreditation provides an independent measure of quality assurance by assessing that an office maintains written policies and procedures, and adequate staff, equipment, training, and suitable physical facilities to produce a forensically documented, accurate, and credible death investigation product. Examples of accrediting bodies that publish professional standards on procedures for conducting autopsies and medicolegal death investigations are the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) and the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners (IACME).

Through this funding opportunity, applications are being solicited from ME/C agencies seeking accreditation through an appropriate ME/C accrediting agency such as, but not limited to, those listed above. Final determination of the appropriateness of an accrediting body for the purposes of this solicitation will be made by NIJ. This program will strengthen the quality of ME/C services in the United States by ensuring that agencies performing postmortem examinations are in compliance with industry and professional standards and performance criteria. Funds may not be used to maintain existing accreditation.

Agencies that are awarded funds under this purpose area will be required to provide information to NIJ, generally in the form of semi-annual progress reports, throughout the duration of the award. NIJ is interested in, among other things, understanding the advantages and challenges that arise with implementing an accreditation program, especially when resources and policies vary among jurisdictions. Reports should address progress made in achieving accreditation and, for example, costs, benefits, and other technical, administrative, policy, or legal gaps that support, sustain, or limit the achievement of accreditation.

Information Regarding Potential Evaluation of Programs and Activities:

The Department of Justice has prioritized the use of evidence-based programming and deems it critical to continue to build and expand the evidence informing criminal and juvenile justice programs to reach the highest level of rigor possible. Therefore, applicants should note that the Office of Justice Programs may conduct or support an evaluation of the programs and activities funded under this solicitation. Recipients and sub-recipients will be expected to cooperate with program-related assessments or evaluation efforts, including through the collection and provision of information or data requested by OJP (or its designee) for the assessment or evaluation of any activities and/or outcomes of those activities funded under this solicitation. The information or data requested may be in addition to any other financial or performance data already required under this program.


Total funding for this solicitation and the number of awards made will depend on the availability of funds, the quality of the applications, and other pertinent factors. NIJ expects to award grants from the Strengthening the Medical Examiner-Coroner System Program to institutions that administer an accredited forensic pathology fellowship program, and to state and local ME/C offices actively seeking accreditation. NIJ expects to make one-year forensic pathology fellowship awards under Purpose Area 1 of this solicitation. Funds may be used toward a salary/stipend for the fellow and related costs that may include fringe benefits (if applicable), at the applicant institution’s discretion. Related costs may include any combination of the fellow’s fees, project costs, professional society membership fees, or conference travel, among other allowable expenses incurred during the award period of performance. Under Purpose Area 2, NIJ expects to make awards to support ME/C office accreditation.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 183183

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

NIJ expects to make up to ten (10) one-year forensic pathology fellowship awards of $100,000 each under Purpose Area 1 of this solicitation.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Purpose Area 1: Forensic pathology fellowship awards will be up to $100,000. Up to $25,000, of the $100,000, may be used for other related direct or indirect costs.

Term of Contract:

Purpose Area 1: Forensic pathology fellowship awards will be made for one year.

Purpose Area 2: NIJ expects to make awards for a 24-month period of performance, to begin on January 1, 2019.


  • 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
  • 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:

Eligible applicants are agencies directly involved in medicolegal death investigations as part of their normal business, such as medical examiner offices and coroner offices, States (including territories), units of local government, federally recognized Indian tribal governments (as determined by the Secretary of the Interior) that perform law enforcement functions, 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.

Eligible applicants for Purpose Area 1, Forensic Pathology Fellowships, are limited to entities with programs that should meet or exceed the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

Eligible applicants for Purpose Area 2, Medical Examiner-Coroner Office Accreditation, are limited to domestic medical examiner and coroner offices actively seeking accreditation through an independent accrediting organization, such as the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) and the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners (IACME), or other appropriate accrediting bodies.

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 the funding and managing the entire program. 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.

Pre-Application Information:

NIJ expects to award up to $4 million under the Strengthening the Medical Examiner-Coroner System Program. Under Purpose Area 2, NIJ expects to make awards to support ME/C office accreditation with an estimated total amount awarded up to $3,000,000.

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 6, 2018.

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.

National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) Response Center:
Toll-free: 1-800-851-3420
Fax: 301-240-5830
TTY: 301-240-6310
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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

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