VOCA Funding



Current Status/Action News:

FY 2017

On May 24, 2016, the full House Appropriations Committee marked up its FY 2017 Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill.  The full Committee's FY 2017 VOCA cap is $2.737 billion although the Committee also adopted an amendment to earmark 5% of the cap for grants to tribal governments, similar to the Senate CJS bill.  There are no other transfers or earmarks in the House bill as there are in the Senate bill (for VAWA and Inspector General).  As a result, under the House approach, state VOCA victim assistance grants are estimated to be about 3% less than FY 2016 grants (compared to the FY 2017 Senate bill which would result in an 11% decrease from FY 2016).

On May 18, 2016, the House Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations subcommittee recommended a FY 2017 VOCA cap of $2.737 billion without any transfers to non-VOCA programs or new earmarks. Although the Senate CJS bill has a larger total cap ($2.857 biillion), it also includes transfers and a new tribal set aside that totals $536.85 million. As a result, more funds would be available for state VOCA victim assistance grants under the House proposal than under the Senate bill.

On April 22, 2016, the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday marked up its FY 2017 Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) appropriations bill.  The Committee approved a Crime Victims Fund cap at $2.957 billion, which is $85 million less than the FY 2016 cap (but $957 million more than the Administration’s request).  As happened in FY 2016, $379 million is transferred to the Office on Violence Against Women for VAWA programs.  At its mark up, the Committee adopted an amendment introduced by Sen. Tester (D-MT) to carve out 5 percent of the annual CVF cap for “grants to Indian tribal governments to improve services and justice for victims of crime.”

Although the CJS report says that $2.578 billion will be “disbursed to States,” the Committee fails to include amounts used for other purposes, which includes: $10 million for the DOJ Inspector General’s Office, $85 million estimated for OJP management costs, Children’s Justice Act grants, federal set-asides for U.S. Attorneys, FBI and federal victim notification system, and OVC discretionary grants.  It also, understandably, fails to include the $147.85 million that would be earmarked for tribal grants if the Tester amendment is eventually enacted.  Thus, the net amount available for state grants (both state crime victim compensation and state victim assistance formula grants) is really closer to $2.138 billion.  It is estimated that under the Senate CJS bill FY 2017 state VOCA assistance grants would be about 9 percent less than the amount estimated for the FY 2016 grants.


On February 9, 2016, the Administration released its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2017. The proposal would release $2 billion from the Crime Victims Fund, one-third less than the $3.042 billion Congress released for FY 2016. In addition, the Administration's proposal would designate a total of $481 million for programs that are not authorized under the VOCA statute, including:

  • $326 million transferred to the Office on Violence Against Women;
  • $50 million for Vision 21 projects, including $25 million for tribal victim assistance grants;
  • $45 million for human trafficking programs; and
  • up to 3% or $60 million to the National Institute of Justice and Bureau of Justice Statistics.

In addition, the proposal estimates $85 million for Office of Justice Programs management and administrative costs, leaving $1.4 billion for programs specified under the VOCA statute, compared to the estimated $2.6 billion allocated for these programs in FY 16.

Using unofficial estimates, it appears that under the Administration's budget proposal, FY 2017 state victim assistance formula grants could be 47 percent less than FY 2016 grants and about 40 percent less than FY 2015 grants.

NAVAA supports the policy that the annual VOCA cap be set at the average of the three previous full fiscal years of deposits into the Crime Victims Fund, without any non-VOCA transfers. Using that policy, the FY 2017 cap should be no less than $2.573 billion that would likely result in state VOCA assistance grants at about the same level anticipated for FY 2016.


Background Documents

(All documents in PDF format unless otherwise indicated in square brackets.)
[Top]

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
 
2009
896,316,825
635,000,0002
2001
776,954,858
537,500,000
 
2010
1,745,677,602
705,000,000
2002
544,437,015
550,000,000
 
2011
2,362,337,940
705,000,000
2003
519,466,480
600,000,000
 
2012
1,998,220,205
705,000,000
2004
361,341,967
621,312,5001
 
2013
2,795,547,045
730,000,000
2005
833,695,013
620,000,0001
 
2014
1,489,682,811
745,000,000
2006
668,268,054
625,000,000
 
2015
3,591,493,390
2,361,000,000
2007 649,631,046 625,000,000  
2016
2,639,961,928
3,042,000,0003
2008 1,017,977,475 590,000,000   2017 1,486,357,496  
1 Includes rescissions.
2 Does not include $100 million in Recovery Act funding
3 Includes
$389 million transferred to non-VOCA programs.

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
 
2009
1,852
2001
1,300
 
2010
3,148
2002
1,330
 
2011
4,801
2003
1,311
 
2012
6,099
2004
1,080
 
2013
8,185
2005
1,261
 
2014
9,531
2006
1,307
 
2015
11,792
2007
1,333
 
2016est
12,000
2008
1,730
  2017est
10,038

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.

[Top]


Find Federal Officials 
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Find State Officials
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Contact The Media 
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

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.