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COPS Hiring Program Award Selection Methodology

Background and Award Methodology

The COPS Hiring Program (CHP) is funded through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010, P.L.111-117, and provides $298 million directly to law enforcement agencies to hire and/or rehire career law enforcement officers.

CHP grants cover 100 percent of the approved entry-level salary and benefits of each newly-hired and/or rehired, full-time sworn career law enforcement officer over three years (36 months). Grant recipients are required to retain the COPS-funded positions, at local expense, for 12 months following the federal funding period. CHP grant funding is based on an agency's current entry-level salary and benefits for full-time sworn officers. There is no local match required by grant recipients.

CHP funding may be used to:

Grantees will be required to continue funding the positions with local funding until the date(s) of the scheduled lay-offs. An applicant may not reduce its budget for sworn officers just to take advantage of CHP funding. To avoid violating the terms of the grant, any local budget cut must be unrelated to the receipt of CHP grant funds. The hiring or rehiring of officers under CHP must be in addition to, and not in lieu of, officers who otherwise would have been hired or rehired with local funds.

There was extremely high demand for COPS hiring grants during fiscal year 2009, and the COPS Office retained 6,147 of FY 2009's unfunded applications in pending status. For this year's CHP program, COPS invited the agencies with pending applications to update their application data. At the end of the application update period, 4,423 law enforcement agencies requesting more than $2.2 billion to fund the hiring of more than 10,000 officers updated their data and were considered for funding.

Selection Methodology
The COPS Office employed a very similar methodology as in fiscal year 2009 and determined that fiscal health factors would account for 50% of the total score and reported crime and planned community policing activities would also account for 50% of the final score. In this manner, the COPS Office evenly valued the importance of fiscal distress against reported crime and community policing strategies.

Each individual question was assigned a value based on the overall weight given to each category (fiscal health, reported crime and community policing) based on a 100 point scale. Specifically, the questions pertaining to fiscal health were constructed to sum to equal 50 points, and the reported crime and community policing indicators to sum to 50 points.

In asking a variety of fiscal health questions, the COPS Office focused on getting as complete a view as possible of the fiscal distress being experienced by applicants through objective and verifiable indicators that all agencies, from rural communities to large cities, could accurately report.

Due to the high demand and limited funding available, only 379 CHP requests were ultimately funded, which is only about 8% of the total number of agencies who chose to submit applications for consideration under CHP (4,423).

Because of the requirement to award ½ of CHP funds to agencies with populations greater than 150,000 and ½ to populations less than 150,000 (in this case, $1,490,000), all eligible applicants were split into these two population groups. Applicants in each group were then ranked on each individual question compared to all other applicants in the group. This individual rank on each question was then multiplied by the assigned weight to that specific question and then summed to produce a final score.

Capping Methodology
All agencies were asked to update their application data and cap their requests at no more than 5% of their current actual sworn force strength, up to a maximum of 50 officers. COPS believes this cap ensures the maximum number of agencies is funded without reducing any particular agency's award to a level that it would no longer be a meaningful increase to their force strength. Under any circumstances, a fully-funded 5% increase in the workforce would have a significant impact on agency operations. In addition, 50 officers is the equivalent of a 5% increase in an agency of 1,000 sworn, and very few applicants (or agencies nationwide, for that matter) actually have a sworn force strength of more than 1,000 officers.

The COPS Office concluded that these restrictions were a better alternative to simply giving the first-ranked applicants all the officers they requested, regardless of the size of their requests. Without these caps, a very small number of agencies would have consumed all the available funding. With them, only a very small number of agencies will receive less than a 5 percent boost in their staffing levels.

Tribal Applicants
The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics paints a clear picture with data showing that crime rates are much higher for Native Americans compared to the national average. For example, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), among American Indians ages 25-34, the rate of violent crime victimization is more than twice the rate for all persons in the same age category. And, according to the National Institute of Justice, tribes have between 55 and 75 percent of the resource base available to non-Indian communities. The Department of Justice is committed to lowering the rates of violence in Indian Country and determined that for its FY10 CHP program, the COPS Office would fund all remaining pending tribal applicants to work towards our goal of lowering crime rates in Indian Country. Therefore, all 22 tribal applicants that submitted updated data under the CHP program were funded, resulting in $3,727,076 for 23 officers.

OIG Audit Remedy
The Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued an "Audit Report on the Selection Process for the COPS Hiring Recovery Program" on May 14, 2010. The report recommended that COPS implement a remedy for agencies that were negatively affected by inaccurate formulas used in developing the scores and ranks of CHRP applicants. The COPS Office concurred with this recommendation and executed this remedy as part its 2010 CHP program.

In addition to a host of other information, applicants seeking funding from the 2009 CHRP program were asked to provide data for three years on the applicant's agency budget, jurisdictional budget, jurisdictional revenue, and jurisdictional general fund balance. These questions were scored using a formula for measuring the change over time that the OIG identified as inaccurate. After this issue was identified, the COPS Office proactively determined the limited scope of the inaccuracy, developed an appropriate improvement to the formula for future use, and identified the agencies negatively affected, all of which are discussed in detail in the audit report.

The COPS Office remedied the 40 agencies identified in the report using available funding, including FY10 CHP funding. Thirty-four of these agencies would have received CHRP funding, and six of these agencies would have received more CHRP funding (additional officer positions) than they were originally awarded, if the new formula had been used. Prior to enacting this remedy by awarding 2010 CHP funding, the COPS Office verified that these agencies still desired funding and complied with all other grant conditions. COPS also obtained updated budget data from each of these agencies, as it is necessary to have current and validated salary information in order to determine accurate award amounts.

Consequently, the dollar amounts listed in the audit report may be different from the actual awards to these agencies because their budget data has been updated. In addition, some of these agencies qualified for more officers under the 2010 CHP program, separate from any remedy. The OIG has agreed that this is a reasonable approach. It should be noted that the total dollar amount required to fund these officers was $15,184,036. However, $6,491,477 from previously withdrawn 2009 CHRP awards was used to offset these costs.