As reported on PoliceOne.com, the deadline for public safety Byrne/JAG grant applications has been extended from May 18 to June 17, 2009. The full allocation for this program in the economic stimulus amounts to approximately $2 billion, with 60% of the allocation being directed to the states and 40% being directed locally. As the article points out, these grants are formula-based, so the change does not affect the type or amount of grants available–only the time for agencies to respond.
This is likely welcome news for public safety agencies without the resources for responding as quickly as originally planned. By the time all submission guidelines were released, agencies in effect had only a 30-day window to apply. Galain’s own Rick Wimberly was quoted in the article as saying, “I think the JAG/Byrne extension is primarily an effort to take time pressure off everyone involved – both DOJ, which is quite busy, and the local agencies. The original deadline was quite optimistic in the first place.”
Stipulations in the application also require a “feedback” time to allow the public to respond to proposed expenditures. While the application itself could be submitted prior to opening a public forum, agencies may have been leary to submit requests without taking this step first.
One also wonders if the “after effect” of these grants programs could also be causing hesitation. For example, as reported in GovTech, there are strings attached to certain programs such as the COPS grant where local departments must commit to paying for the fourth year of salary and benefits for an officer, even though the grant pays for the first three years. A similar situation apparently exists for the SAFER grants (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response). According to Larry Gorud, president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, “… the full-burden cost of a new firefighter is $67,000 per year. “By the end of the second year, we would have to have some funding available,” he said. “If you let that firefighter go, you have to pay the money back…” Such future requirements concerns may be spilling over into initiatives such as the Byrne/JAG program.
So, the signs continue to point to the stimulus plan becoming a longer-term program and not a short-term radar blip. Vendors must leverage their government relationships to identify opportunities, then present a clear value proposition to buyers. Illustrating how the vendor will help agencies navigate reporting requirements called for in the stimulus will also help. Time is of the essence, but it hasn’t expired yet.