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BJA Tribal Courts Assistance Program, Fiscal Year 2004: Application Guidelines and Resources for California Tribes

(Developed and Updated by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute and the UCLA Native Nations Law and Policy Center as a resource for California Tribes)

December 23, 2003

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. Department of Justice, is inviting proposals from federally recognized tribes to establish new tribal courts in Indian Country. Grants of up to $100,000 will be made available to support the planning, development, and implementation of new single-tribe and inter-tribal court systems. The minimum program period for these grants is 15 months. (Grants are also being made available to enhance existing tribal courts. Since only a handful of such courts exist in California, this resource is aimed primarily at tribes seeking to establish new court systems).

Given the unique history and circumstances of California tribes, few tribes have established tribal court systems in the state. This grant program provides a critical opportunity for California tribes to establish their own tribal courts, whether individually or in partnership with other tribes. While the grant application process can be challenging and the timeframe for applications is short, this opportunity is too important to let pass. The Tribal Law and Policy Institute and the UCLA Native Nations Law and Policy Center are both committed to helping California Tribes in planning, development, implementation, and enhancement of tribal justice systems. As part of this effort, we have prepared this resource to provide guidance and assistance for tribal leaders throughout the BJA grant application process.

The final deadline for submission of grant proposals is February 2 2004. While this is not much time, we will provide as much assistance as feasible to help guide tribes through the application process.

NOTE: All proposals must be submitted online using the Grants Management System (GMS). If you have not used the system before (the case for most tribes), you MUST register as a new user by January 28, 2004. It has been reported that GMS can be cumbersome to use. Give yourself at least a few days prior to the deadline to submit all needed information into GMS. 

Beginning October 1, 2003, a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number must be included in every application for a new award or renewal of an award. The DUNS number will be required whether an applicant is submitting an application through OJP's Grants Management System or using the governmentwide electronic portal (http://www.grants.gov). An application will not be considered complete until the applicant has provided a valid DUNS number. Individuals who would personally receive a grant or cooperative agreement from the federal government are exempt from this requirement.

Organizations should verify that they have a DUNS number or take the steps necessary to obtain one as soon as possible. Applicants can receive a DUNS number at no cost by calling the dedicated toll-free DUNS number request line at 1-800-333-0505.

NEXT STEPS:

(1) Read the official grant announcement from BJA: 
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/grant/TribalCts04/index.html
Be forewarned that the announcement is long and complicated.

(2) Decide whether to apply for a single-tribe court or an inter-tribal court
For tribes with populations less than 1,000, they may join with other nearby tribes in a consortium to form an inter-tribal court system. To apply for a single-tribe court, you must have a population equal to or exceeding 1,000 people. Smaller tribes may request an exemption from the minimum population limit and request a single-court system if they can demonstrate that an inter-tribal collaboration would not be logistically or economically feasible given their circumstances.

Tribal population counts from Census 2000 are available on the National Tribal Justice Resource Center website at: 
http://www.tribalresourcecenter.org/resources/funding/bja/tribalpopulations.asp
(Please note that these are the figures that BJA will use to determine your tribal population).

Category I: Inter-tribal Court System – Planning, Developing, and Implementing

Tribes that serve a population of fewer than 1,000 people (according to the Census 2000 figures) are required by BJA to apply for an intertribal or consortium grant unless the tribe meets the criteria for the exception set forth in the RFP (see below). Grants will not total more than $100,000. Minimum length of the program period is 15 months.

Advantages:

  • An inter-tribal court allows tribes to distribute the administrative burden and cost of running a court system, that is, pool resources.
  • Inter-tribal collaboration offers opportunities to learn from one another and share ideas.
  • An intertribal court system allows a small tribe to access tribal court personnel and resources beyond their community.
  • Intertribal court systems can be designed so that the same court personnel can apply different laws enacted by each community so that the laws are designed to meet the individual culture and needs of each community.

Disadvantages:

  • Less money per tribe since resources must be pooled across all members of the tribal consortium (that is – only $100,000 whether for a single tribe or for a consortium of 10 tribes). Agreement must be reached with all tribal consortium members on the design of the court system. This may take extra time and effort given the short timeframe available before the deadline.

Note: A tribal consortium of 2 villages or tribes would meet the minimum partnership requirement and would maximize the portion of grant funds available to each tribe. However, a consortium of more than 2 villages or tribes may be a more sensible option given the geographic and cultural proximity of villages near you.

If you plan on proposing an inter-tribal court system, you should do this TODAY:

Establish which tribes you want to work with
Tribal leaders from each member of the inter-tribal court system consortium will need to agree on the specifics of the grant proposal. You will need to begin speaking with your counterparts at other tribes.

Choose who will serve as “project lead”
Only one application should be submitted on behalf of the consortium. Therefore, one tribe should be selected to serve as “lead” tribe for purposes of the application process. 

If you do not meet the population minimum, decide how you will convince BJA that you should qualify for a waiver
According to the official BJA grant announcement: 

Distances of several hundred miles separating tribes and rugged or inhospitable terrain can adversely affect the development of a collaborative partnership by making it logistically too difficult or economically unfeasible to establish an intertribal court. In these severe circumstances, and given that a tribal government can succinctly justify such hardships and incorporate this information into its application under Problem Definition, such a tribe may apply as a single entity.”  

Category II: Single-tribe Court System – Planning, Developing, and Implementing

These grants are for tribes that serve a population equal to or exceeding 1,000 people. Grants will not total more than $100,000. Minimum length of the program period is 15 months.

Advantages:

  • Allows full tribal control over the design and structure of their court system
  • Grant funds do not need to be shared with anyone else

Disadvantages:

  • Full burden of planning, designing, and implementing court system rests on the tribe’s shoulders. 

If you plan on proposing a single-tribe court system, you should do this TODAY:

Identify whether you meet the population minimum
The population minimum is 1000 to qualify. Tribal population counts from Census 2000 are available on the National Tribal Justice Resource Center website at: 
http://www.tribalresourcecenter.org/resources/funding/bja/tribalpopulations.asp

(3) Begin planning to write the grant proposal

The basic structure of the grant application is the same for inter-tribal and single-tribe court system proposals. In addition to a standard set of online forms that you will fill out on the GMS, you must write and submit three required attachments (each attachment must be in a single file). Begin thinking about these attachments now, particularly the Program Narrative.

Attachment #1: Budget Detail Worksheet

  • Budget worksheet (maximum allowable budget is $100,000. At least $20,000 must be allocated for travel to BJA-sponsored training sessions)
  • Budget narrative detailing all expenses in the budget worksheet

Tribes are encouraged to give special consideration to three budgetary items: travel, information technology, and personnel costs.

  • Travel. Tribes are encouraged to allocate at least $20,000 over the project period to cover travel and miscellaneous costs associated with BJA-sponsored trainings and other meetings. BJA expects grant recipients to establish project advisory teams. Typically, three to five advisory team members participate in training seminars hosted by BJA and its technical assistance providers.
  • Information Technology. If a tribe is planning to enhance its information technology system, all purchased equipment and software must be capable of supporting information sharing among justice systems and must be compliant with appropriate national standards.
  • Personnel Costs. If a court-related position is established under the program, a tribe may charge 75 percent of the salary and fringe benefits for that position to the grant. In turn, the tribe or applicant is responsible for a cash match that provides 25 percent of the salary and fringe benefits. Total costs associated with salary and fringe benefits may not exceed 50 percent of the amount of the grant.

Use the sample budget detail worksheet as a guide to assist applicants in the preparation of the budget worksheet and budget narrative.

Attachment #2: Program Narrative

The program narrative must not exceed 20 pages of double spaced text: Narrative must include the following seven sections (proposals will be graded according to the points listed in parentheses):

  1. Problem Definition (10 points)
    Identify the population the court will serve and the geographic area it will cover. Include socioeconomic data for the area, if available. Identify the problems the proposal addresses and the commitment of the tribe(s) to resolve these problems. In doing so, identify and discuss the caseload and offenses that the project will address. Include information about violent crimes, property crimes, domestic violence, child welfare, juvenile offenses, alcohol and substance abuse, and other priority crimes that are committed and other issues that arise in the proposed area.
  2. Strategy Overview (25 points)
    Describe what the applicant is proposing to do and how it plans to accomplish it. Identify the types of both civil and criminal caseloads that the tribal court will address. Summarize the applicant's intent to establish and implement a comprehensive plan and detail the proposed court's purpose, structure, and operation. Describe current efforts to coordinate services among tribal providers, including law enforcement, corrections, and treatment.
  3. Implementation Plan (25 points)
    Describe how the strategy defined above will be implemented. (See the Performance Measures section.) Provide a strategy to collaborate with other tribal and/or nontribal agencies to implement the plan. Along with the goals and objectives, include a timeline that describes each project goal, related objective, and activity; give the expected completion date; and identify the responsible person or organization (also in Attachment #3). Briefly explain how each task will support and/or enhance the development of the tribe's justice system.
  4. Coordination (10 points)
    Describe who will make up the project advisory team. This may be either an existing or a newly formed group. If the application is for an intertribal grant, a minimum of one and maximum of three persons from each tribe involved in the intertribal court system may be members of the project advisory team. Explain how these members will fulfill the roles defined in the implementation plan and identify those individuals who will attend training seminars sponsored by BJA (to be determined). Include letters of support and commitment and memorandums of understanding, where appropriate. Discuss how the community will be involved in planning the tribal court.
  5. Program Effectiveness (10 points)
    Explain how the applicant will know if the program works. Describe the kind of data the tribe or consortium has collected and will collect to guide the focus of planning the tribal court. (See the Performance Measures section.) Explain how the applicant will assess the impact of its efforts. A clear connection should be maintained from the proposed strategy to the issues identified in the problem statement. Explain what will be measured, who will measure it, and how the information will be used. If available, tribes are encouraged to describe their current data collection instruments. If data are not being collected, this must be stated in the application.
  6. Sustainment (10 points)
    Identify resources that complement this project. Outline a strategy for continuing the project when the federal grant period ends.
  7. Budget (10 points)
    Applicants must provide a proposed budget that is complete, allowable, and cost effective in relation to the activities to be undertaken. Applicants should demonstrate that expenses for travel, information technology, and personnel follow the guidelines listed in the Budget Detail Worksheet section of this solicitation.

Attachment #3: Other Program Attachments

  • A project timeline containing each project goal, related objective, activity, expected completion date, and responsible person or organization.
  • Letters of support and memorandums of understanding (please allow sufficient time to receive signed copies of these documents – you may need to scan information into a PDF file). If letters of support cannot be uploaded as part of Attachment #3, they may be faxed to 202-354-4147 by February 2, 2004. The applicant must include the application number that is assigned by GMS (e.g., 2004-F001-DC-IC) on all faxed documents.

Other important information for submitting proposal
BJA may, at its discretion, allow submission of the application in a paper version via overnight express only. (General mail delivery delays still exist because of heightened security screenings.) Applicants must continue their efforts to submit their application electronically. An application approved for submission in a hard copy/paper version will be accepted only if it is postmarked no later than the date of the application deadline and has received approval from BJA.

If you are having difficulties or need assistance with the Grants Management System (GMS), you may call the GMS Helpline at 1-888-549-9901.

 

KEY LINKS AND ONLINE RESOURCES

Bureau of Justice Assistance, DOJ — Official grant announcement: 
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/grant/TribalCts04/index.html

Bureau of Justice Assistance, DOJ — Grants Management System:
https://grants.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.html

Remember, you must register on the Grants Management System (GMS) by January 28, 2004. The final application must be then submitted online by February 2, 2004. Do not wait until the last minute. The GMS can be cumbersome and completing the application may take a few days. 

Beginning October 1, 2003, a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number must be included in every application for a new award or renewal of an award. The DUNS number will be required whether an applicant is submitting an application through OJP's Grants Management System or using the governmentwide electronic portal (http://www.grants.gov). An application will not be considered complete until the applicant has provided a valid DUNS number. Individuals who would personally receive a grant or cooperative agreement from the federal government are exempt from this requirement.

Organizations should verify that they have a DUNS number or take the steps necessary to obtain one as soon as possible. Applicants can receive a DUNS number at no cost by calling the dedicated toll-free DUNS number request line at 1-800-333-0505.

National Tribal Justice Resource Center — Tribal Court grant resources
http://www.tribalresourcecenter.org/resources/funding/bja/
Additional resources for grant applicants including chart of federally recognized tribes, chart of tribal populations, and grant writing resources. [Sample Program Narratives are also available from this site, though they are not particularly useful for California tribes.

For further information please contact the Tribal Law and Policy Institute's California Tribal Liaison

 

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