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Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program (Coverdell program) - Competitive


Additional Links

Notice of Funding Opportunity (


Application Deadline: Jun 24, 2021

Sponsoring Organization

Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)


Funds efforts to eliminate forensic science backlogs, especially those caused by the opioid crisis. Grants funds to states and local governmental units to improve forensic science and medical examiner/coroner services. Funding must be used for one or more of the following objectives:

  • To implement a program designed to enhance and accelerate forensic science or medical examiner/coroner services in the state
  • To remove any backlogs concerning the examination of forensic science evidence
  • To instruct, support, and hire individuals who are needed to eliminate backlogs, including forensic laboratory staff, and medical and legal death investigators
  • To address new forensic science concerns and forensic science technology
  • To teach and train forensic pathologists
  • To finance medical and legal death investigation systems to help accredit medical examiner and coroner offices and certify medical and legal death investigators

Funding may be used for the following expense types:

  • Laboratory personnel salaries and benefits
  • Technology
  • Equipment and Supplies
  • Accreditation and certification
  • Education and training
  • Infrastructure, including facilities
  • Administrative costs

Amount of Funding

Award ceiling: Up to $250,000
Project period: 24 months
Estimated number of awards: 30
Estimated total program funding: $4,454,484

Approximately 57% of the total program funding is allocated for projects that specifically address forensic science challenges related to opioids and synthetic drugs.

Who Can Apply

States, including territories, and city, township, or county governments are eligible to apply.

Priority is given to applicants who propose projects that will promote civil rights, increase access to justice, support crime victims, protect the public from crime and evolving threats, and build trust between law enforcement and the community.

To receive priority consideration, applicants must provide a sufficient narrative explanation describing how their project will advance work in one or more of the priority areas listed above.

Priority is also given to applicants who propose projects to benefit individuals in high-poverty areas or persistent-poverty counties.

To receive a poverty priority consideration, applicants must provide information to demonstrate that the individuals who are intended to benefit from the requested grant reside in high-poverty areas or persistent poverty counties.

For this funding opportunity, high-poverty areas are described as any census tract with a poverty rate of at least 20%, as measured by the 2013-2017 5-year data series from the American Community Survey. Persistent poverty counties are described as any county that has had 20% or more of its population living in poverty over the past 30 years, as measured by the 1990 and 2000 decennial censuses and the most recent Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates.

In fiscal year (FY) 2021, all state, local, and university and college law enforcement agencies must be certified by an approved independent credentialing body or have started the certification process in order to be eligible for grant funding.

Geographic Coverage


What This Program Funds

Buildings and Facilities • Capacity Building • Equipment • New Program • Operating Costs and Staffing • Training Providers

Application Process

Application instructions, requirements, and additional information about the application process can be found in the funding announcement.

In FY 2021, there is a new two-step application submission process. To be considered timely, the applicant must have received a validation message from the submission and the full application must be submitted in JustGrants by the respective deadlines.

  • Step 1: Applicants will submit an SF-424 and an SF-LLL in by the June 24, 2021 deadline.
  • Step 2: Applicants will submit the full application, including attachments, in the JustGrants grants management system by the July 8, 2021 deadline.


For questions on submitting in

For questions on submitting in JustGrants:

For technical questions:
National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) Response Center
TTY at 301-240-6310
Live chat

For general or programmatic questions:

Rural Awards

Past awards communities received in FY 2019 can be found on the program website.

Rural communities who have received funding include:

  • Ada County Coroner's Office in Owyhee County, Idaho, used grant funds to buy and install a higher capacity morgue cooler and freezer space to meet regional medical and legal death investigation needs and accreditation requirements. The facility provides forensic services to 33 Idaho counties and three Native American reservations.
  • Oconee County Coroner's Office in Georgia used funds to develop written protocols for applying for accreditation, to pay for accreditation application expenses, to offer improved training for the coroner and deputy coroner, and more.

Topics This Program Addresses

Healthcare Facilities • Healthcare Workforce • Infrastructure • Opioids • Teleservices and Technology