VOCA Funding



Current Status/Action News:

FY 2015


The President's proposed 2015 VOCA budget is essentially the same as requested in 2014. The VOCA cap would be raised to $810 million, of which $65 million would be earmarked for OJP management and administrative costs (M&A), $45 million would be used for certain Vision 21 activities (tribal services, legal assistance, state technology projects) and $10 million for domestic trafficking victim grants. Based on current estimates, it would appear that state VOCA assistance grants in 2015 would, under this proposal, be slightly lower than the estimated 2014 grants.

Unlike previous years in which VOCA supporters sought a specific dollar amount for the annual cap, victim advocates this years are asking Congressional appropriators to establish a policy of setting the annual cap at the previous year's deposits into the Crime Victims Fund. This approach is actually a return to Congress's intent before caps were imposed to fully distribute each year's deposits for victim services. For 2015, that would mean the cap would be set at $1.489 billion which was the amount deposited into the Fund during 2013 (last full fiscal year).

Rep. JIm Costa, co-chair of the House Crime Victims Caucus is currently circulating a letter among House members to ask appropriators to use the "last year's deposits" approach to setting the VOCA cap.

FY 2014

The FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Act enacted by Congress and signed by the President sets the VOCA cap at $745 million, an increase of $15 million over the FY 2013 VOCA cap. Together with an expected decline in state crime victim compensation grants, FY 2014 state VOCA assistance grants are anticipated to increase by about 6 percent. Despite this increase, support for direct victim assistance remains 13 percent behind, in real, inflation-adjusted dollars, than funding in 2000. This means that providers are unable to even keep pace with increased costs.

The House Appropriations Committee has proposed increasing the VOCA cap from $730 million to $745 million while the Senate Appropriations Committee would set the cap at $765 million. While the House bill would allow OVC to use VOCA funds "within available resources," for Vision 21, the Senate would appropriate $25 million from general tax revenues (not from the Crime Victims Fund) for Vision 21 programs.

The Administration's requested FY 2014 spending proposal asked to increase the VOCA cap to $800 million (from the 2013 cap of $730 million). Of that:

  • $71 million of the increase would be used for specific initiatives:
    • Vision 21 initiatives including:
      • $25 million for supplemental victims' services and other victim-related programs and initiatives,
      • $20 million for tribal assistance for victims of violence,
    • $10 million for victims of trafficking grants focused on domestic victims
    • up to 2 percent ($16 million) for research, evaluation or statistical purposes related to crime victims and related programs.

In addition, the Administration is projecting that $60 million will be taken from the Crime Victims Fund for DOJ management and administrative costs, further reducing the amount available for the core VOCA-authorized programs. Taken together, the M&A and new earmarks would reduce the amount available for VOCA-authorized programs to $669 million. The additional $131 million costs means that more than 1.3 million fewer crime victims will receive VOCA victim assistance-funded services.

NAVAA Position
In a letter to Congressional appropriators, NAVAA explained that, consistent with its longstanding policy, NAVAA does not support the creation of any new set asides from the Crime Victims Fund. Notwithstanding the merits of the individual proposals or initiatives, NAVAA believes the original and primary purpose of the Crime Victims Fund is to support services to victims of all types of crimes throughout the nation by use of state formula grants. VOCA state victim assistance grants have not even kept pace with inflation, let alone the increasing need assistance services. State assistance grants in 2012 were 30 percent less in real dollars than grants in 2000. We therefore believe that the highest priority should be given to restoring funding for VOCA state victim assistance grants.

Sequestration The Office of Management and Budget projects there will be $11.431 billion in the Fund in 2014 of which 7.2 percent or $832 million will be sequestered. Sequestration, however, does not mean that amount will be removed from the Fund, but are merely not available for obligation. Because sequestration is taken from the entire Fund and not the amount “under the cap,” sequestration may not directly reduce amounts available to support victim services.  However, because sequestration reduces the overall amount available to appropriators (see below), sequestration may tend to lower the VOCA cap as well as amounts available for other DOJ victim programs, such as Violence Against Women Act programs.


Background Documents

(All documents in PDF format unless otherwise indicated in square brackets.)
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Media Coverage

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Background

  • The Crime Victim Fund helps an average of 3.7 million victims of all types of crime every year.
  • The Fund comes from the collection of Federal criminal fines; not taxpayers.
  • Congress has repeatedly pledged that all amounts deposited into the Fund would remain available for victim services.

The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 is the Federal government's principle means of providing support for programs that serve victims of all types of crime. Each year, Federal criminal fines, forfeitures and special assessments are deposited into the Crime Victims Fund (the Fund). These offender generated revenues -- NOT TAXPAYER DOLLARS -- are used to support these programs:

  • Children’s Justice Act -- to improve the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases;
  • U.S. Attorney’s victim/witness coordinators -- to provide assistance to victims involved in Federal criminal prosecutions by funding 170 FTE United States Attorney Office victim assistance coordinators;;
  • F.B.I. victim assistance specialists-- to help victims during Federal criminal investigations by funding 112 FTE victim assistance specialists;
  • Federal victim notification system -- to provide automated notification to victims of the status of Federal criminal investigations and prosecutions and the offender's status in the Federal prison system;
  • OVC discretionary grants -- to support national scope training and technical assistance and to provide services to victims of Federal crimes;
  • State compensation formula grants -- to supplement State funds used to reimburse victims of violent crimes for medical expenses, mental health counseling, lost wages, loss of support and funeral/burial costs;
  • State victim assistance formula grants -- to support direct victim assistance services -- such as counseling, emergency shelter, rape crisis centers, help in participating in the criminal justice system. Approximately 3.5 million - 4 million crime victims receive these services by more than 4,000 agencies annually;
  • Management & administration (M&A) - For 2012 and future years, Congress directed DOJ to use grant funds to cover its grant M&A.
  • Antiterrorism Emergency Reserve -- to replenish a special $50 milllion reserve to assist victims of domestic and international terrorism and mass violence. The needs for this reserve is demonstrated by Minnesota's request for supplemental compensation funding in response to the Red Lake, MN school shooting

Prior to FY 2000, all of the money deposited into the Crime Victims Fund from the collection of Federal criminal fines, forfeitures and assessments, was allocated the following fiscal year according to a formula in the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) statute. Because of wide fluctuations in the amount deposited, beginning in FY 2000, Congress began imposing a limitation or "cap" on the amount of Fund deposits that could be obligated the following year.

Fiscal Year
Prv. Yr. Deposits
Cap
 
Fiscal
Year
Prv. Yr. Deposits
Cap
2000
$985,185,354
$500,000,000
 
2007
649,631,046
625,000,000
2001
776,954,858
537,500,000
 
2008
1,017,977,475
590,000,000
2002
544,437,015
550,000,000
 
2009**
896,316,825
635,000,000
2003
519,466,480
600,000,000
 
2010
1,745,677,602
705,000,000
2004
361,341,967
621,312,500*
 
2011
2,362,337,940
705,000,000
2005
833,695,013
620,000,000*
 
2012
1,998,220,205
705,000,000
2006
668,268,054
625,000,000
 
2013
2,795,547,045
730,000,000
* Includes rescissions.
** Does not include $100 million in Recovery Act funding

Congress said it was delaying use of the deposits above the cap in order "to protect against wide fluctuations in receipts into the Fund, and to ensure that a stable level of funding will remain available for these programs in future years." [Conference Report 106-479] Congress also amended the VOCA statute to reflect the preservation of all deposits for future VOCA programs.

The amounts remaining in the Fund are carried over from year to year to be used when Fund deposits are less than the next year's cap. Three times since caps were imposed -- in FYs 2002, 2003 and 2004 -- Congress has relied on this "rainy day reserve" because of insufficient deposits. However, thanks largely to a handful of very large cases, deposits into the Fund have escalated at unprecedented levels.  As a result, the balance in the Fund continues to grow:

Fund Opening Balance (millions)
FY
   
FY
 
2000
485
 
2008
1,730
2001
1,300
 
2009
1,852
2002
1,330
 
2010
3,148
2003
1,311
 
2011
4,801
2004
1,080
 
2012
6,099
2005
1,261
 
2013
8,185
2006
1,307
 
2014
9,531
2007
1,333
     

This is important because the VOCA statute contains a rather complicated formula that determines how much each  receives each year. State victim assistance grant -- the grants that support thousands of direct victim services -- in effect gets whatever's left over after the other VOCA-authorized programs are funded. As a result, unless the cap is high enough, state VOCA assistance grants are cut as new programs are added or other VOCA-dependent costs increase.

Despite tremendous growth in the Crime Victims Fund balance, lack of adequate VOCA funding means fewer crime victims have access to essential assistance services.   In fact, more than 630,000 fewer victims received VOCA funded services in 2012 than in 2007.

Fiscal Year
VOCA assistance funds*
No. VOCA Funded Agencies
No. Victims Served
2006
395.9
4,397
3,813,128
2007
370.6
4,201
4,116,648
2008
309.0
4,358
3,780,068
2009
363.8
4,020
3,526,736
Recovery Act
47.5
568
38,307
2010 412.1 3,730 3,609,421
2011 428.1 3,780 3,760,235
2012 379.7 3,879 3,486,655
* in millions

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Contact Congress

Call, email or fax your Congressional delegation and urge them to fully support crime victims by raising the VOCA cap. Find out how to contact your Senator and Representatives (often just by entering your zip code) by going to these web sites:

Connect to their offices through this toll-free number: 1-800-247-2971

For media inquiries about VOCA and the Crime Victims Fund: contact: NAVAA Executive Director Steve Derene at steve@navaa.org or call 608-233-2245.