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NICS Act Record Improvement Program

NARIP
Number: 16.813
Agency: Department of Justice
Office: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Program Information 

Program Number/Title (010):
16.813 NICS Act Record Improvement Program
Federal Agency (030):
Bureau of Justice Statistics, Department of Justice
Authorization (040):
The NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 , Public Law 110-180.
Objectives (050):
To improve the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) by providing assistance to states to improve the completeness, automation and transmittal to state and federal systems the records utilized by the NICS. Such records include criminal history records, records of felony convictions, warrants, records of protective orders, convictions for misdemeanor involving domestic violence and stalking, records of mental health adjudications, and others, which may disqualify an individual from possessing or receiving a firearm under federal law. Helping states to automate these records will also reduce delays for law-abiding gun purchasers.

The NICS Improvement Act amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 (“the Brady Act”) (Public Law 103-159), under which the Attorney General established NICS. The Brady Act requires Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to contact the NICS before transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person for information on whether the proposed transferee is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm under state or federal law. The NICS Improvement Act was enacted in the wake of the April 2007 shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech. The Virginia Tech shooter was able to purchase firearms from an FFL because information about his prohibiting mental health history was not available to the NICS and the system was therefore unable to deny the transfer of the firearms used in the shootings.

The Act seeks to address the gap in information available to NICS about such prohibiting mental health adjudications and commitments and other prohibiting backgrounds. Filling these information gaps will better enable the system to operate as intended to keep guns out of the hands of persons prohibited by federal or state law from receiving or possessing firearms.

The Act authorized two grant programs to assist states in providing certain information to the NICS, and prescribes grant penalties for non-compliance with the Act’s record completeness goals. Pursuant to the Act, there are certain conditions, described below, that a state must satisfy in advance of receiving grants under the Act. The NICS Improvement Act has provisions that require states to meet specified goals for completeness of the records submitted to the Attorney General on individuals prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms. The records covered include automated information needed by the NICS to identify felony convictions, felony indictments, fugitives from justice, drug arrests and convictions, prohibiting mental health adjudications and commitments, domestic violence protection orders, and misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence.

The Act provides for a number of incentives for states to meet the goals it sets for greater record completeness. First, the Act allows states to obtain a waiver, beginning in 2011, of the state matching requirement under the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) grant program, if a state provides at least 90 percent of its records identifying persons in specified prohibited categories. Second, the Act authorizes grant programs described herein, which, pursuant to the Act, are being administered consistent with NCHIP, for state executive and judicial agencies to establish and upgrade information automation and identification technologies for timely submission of final criminal record dispositions and other information relevant to NICS checks. Finally, the Act provides for discretionary and mandatory Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program grant penalties, beginning 3 years after enactment, for non-compliance with specified record completeness requirements within certain timeframes: after 3 years, 3 percent may be withheld in the case of less than 50 percent completeness; after 5 years, 4 percent may be withheld in the case of less than 70 percent completeness; and after 10 years, 5 percent shall be withheld in the case of less than 90 percent completeness (although the mandatory reduction can be waived if there is substantial evidence of the state making a reasonable effort to comply).
Types of Assistance (060):
Cooperative Agreements
Uses and Use Restrictions (070):
The Act outlines the allowable uses of grant funds:

Grants to States:

Section 103 of the NICS Improvement Act, regarding implementation assistance to the states, provides that the grants "shall be used by the States and Indian tribal governments, in conjunction with units of local government and State and local courts, to establish or upgrade information and identification technologies for firearms eligibility determinations." In accordance with the Act, a grant to a state, territory or Indian tribes may only be used to:

• Create electronic systems, which provide accurate and up-to-date information which is directly related to checks under the NICS, including court disposition and corrections records;
• Assist states in establishing or enhancing their own capacities to perform NICS background checks;
• Supply accurate and timely information to the Attorney General concerning final dispositions of criminal records to databases accessed by NICS;
• Supply accurate and timely information to the Attorney General concerning the identity of persons who have a federally prohibiting mental health adjudication or commitment;
• Supply accurate and timely court orders and records of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence for inclusion in federal and state law enforcement databases used to conduct NICS background checks;
• Collect and analyze data needed to demonstrate levels of state compliance with the Act; and
• Maintain the required relief from disabilities program in accordance with the Act – however, not less than 3 percent and no more than 10 percent of each grant shall be used for this purpose.

State Court Grants

Section 301 of the Act provides that grants shall be made to each state and territory, consistent with the state’s plans for the integration, automation, and accessibility of criminal history records, for use by the court systems to improve automation and transmittal to federal and state repositories of: (1) criminal history dispositions; (2) records relevant to determining whether a person has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or a prohibiting domestic violence protection order; and (3) prohibiting mental adjudications and commitments. Further, the law provides that the amounts granted shall be used by the state court system only to:

• Carry out, as necessary, assessments of the capabilities of state courts to automate and transmit arrest and conviction records, court orders, and mental health adjudications or commitments to federal and state record repositories; and
• Implement policies, systems, procedures to automate and transmit arrest and conviction records, court orders, and mental health adjudications or commitments to federal and state record repositories.
Eligibility Requirements (080)
Applicant Eligibility (081):
Applications must be submitted by (a) the agency designated by the Governor to administer the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP); (b) the state or territory central administrative office or similar entity designated by statute or regulation to administer federal grant funds on behalf of the jurisdiction's court system; or (c) a federally recognized Indian tribal government.
Beneficiary Eligibility (082):
In accordance with the NICS Improvement Amendments Act (see 18 U.S.C. § 922 note), there are two specific conditions that each state must satisfy before being eligible to receive grants:
1. First, “each State shall provide the Attorney General with a reasonable estimate, as calculated by a method determined by the Attorney General… of the number of the records” subject to the NIAA completeness requirements. (Id.)
2. Second, “to be eligible for a grant under this [program], a State shall certify, to the satisfaction of the Attorney General, that the State has implemented a relief from disabilities program.” (Id.)

For the purpose of this solicitation, a “relief from disabilities program” is a program that permits persons who have been adjudicated a mental defective or committed to a mental institution to obtain relief from the firearms disabilities imposed by law as a result of such adjudication or commitment. This relief must be based on a finding, in accordance with principles of due process, by a state court, board, commission, or other lawful authority, that the circumstances of the disability and the person’s record and reputation are such that the person will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to the public safety and that the granting of relief would not be contrary to the public interest. The certification form is available on the ATF website at www.atf.gov/forms/download/atf-f-3210-12.pdf. For further information, please visit NICS Improvement Act Questions and Answers on the BJS website.

Further, applications submitted on behalf of state court systems must specifically assure that: (1) the court system has the capability to contribute and will transmit pertinent information to the NICS established under section 103(b) of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (18 U.S.C. 922 note), and (2) that it will coordinate the programs proposed for NARIP funding with other federally funded information technology programs, including directly funded local programs.
Credentials/Documentation (083):
The applicant must furnish, along with the application for an award, a detailed budget, a budget narrative, and a program narrative describing how funds would be utilized. Applicants must also furnish a NICS Record Improvement Plan as part of the application which reflects (a) the formation of a NICS Record Improvement Task Force, an assessment of the quality and availability of qualifying NICS records in the State, obstacles preventing full and complete transmission to the NICS of the available records, and strategies planned to address such challenges and achieve completeness goals. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.
Application and Award Process (090)
Preapplication Coordination (091):
A potential grantee should contact the Headquarters Office, Devon B. Adams, NARIP Program Administrator, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Department of Justice, Washington, DC 20531; Telephone: (202) 307-0765, or E-mail: Devon.Adams@usdoj.gov, to obtain a copy of the current program announcement. The standard application forms as furnished by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), in accordance with 28 CFR Part 66 (Common Rule), must be used for this program. Environmental impact information is not required for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.
Application Procedures (092):
OMB Circular No. A-102 applies to this program. OMB Circular No. A-110 applies to this program. Applicants must submit completed applications via the Office of Justice Programs, Grants Management System or through grants.gov following established criteria. The receipt, review, and analysis of applications will follow Office of Justice Programs policies and procedures for the administration of grant applications. Specific application instructions for solicitations are available at the Office of Justice Programs web site (http://www.ojp.gov/funding/solicitations.htm).
Award Procedure (093):
An award is granted by the Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics and must be accepted by the applicant agency or institution according to the special conditions of the grant or cooperative agreement. Successful applicants are notified via the Grants Management System. One copy of the grant award must be signed by the authorized official and returned to the Office of Justice Programs.
Deadlines (094):
Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.
Range of Approval/Disapproval Time (095):
Approximately 120 days. Deadlines are included with the application instructions, which are posted on the Office of Justice Programs web site (http://www.ojp.gov/funding/solicitations.htm).
Appeals (096):
Hearings by the Director.
Renewals (097):
Awards may be for up to 12 months.
Assistance Consideration (100)
Formula and Matching Requirements (101):
This program has no statutory formula.
This program has no matching requirements.
This program does not have MOE requirements.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance (102):
Project duration period will be for 12. There are three methods for requesting payment of grant funds: the Letter of Credit Electronic Certification System (LOCES), the Phone Activated Paperless Request System (PAPRS) and the Automated Standard Application for Payment (ASAP). See the following for information on how assistance is awarded/released: Please contact the program office for more information.
Post Assistance Requirements (110)
Reports (111):
No program reports are required. No cash reports are required. Recipients are required to submit semi-annual Progress Reports. Recipients are required to submit quarterly Financial Reports. To assist in fulfilling the Departments responsibilities under the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA), Public Law 103-62, and the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010, Public Law 111–352, recipients must provide data that measures the results of their work.
Audits (112):
In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.
Records (113):
Recipients of federal funds are expected to retain documentation supporting all program transactions for at least 3 years after the closure of audit reports related to such funding. If any litigation, claim, negotiation, audit, or other action involving records has been started before the expiration of the 3-year period, the records must be retained until completion of the action and resolution of all related issues, or until the end of the regular 3-year period, whichever is later.
Financial Information (120)
Obligations (122):
(Cooperative Agreements) FY 12 $10,432,499; FY 13 est $11,159,000; and FY 14 est $5,000,000
Range and Average of Financial Assistance (123):
No Data Available.
Program Accomplishments (130):
Fiscal Year 2013: No Current Data Available Fiscal Year 2014: No Current Data Available Fiscal Year 2015: No Current Data Available
Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature (140):
Office of Justice Programs’ Financial Guide (www.ojp.usdoj.gov/financialguide/index.htm ) and Post award Instructions (www.ojp.usdoj.gov/funding/pdfs/post_award_instructions.pdf), applicable OMB Circulars, and Department of Justice regulations applicable to specific types of grantees, which can be found in title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations (28 C.F.R.).
Information Contacts (150)
Regional or Local Office (151) :
None.
Headquarters Office (152):
Devon B. Adams U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
Bureau of Justice Statistics
810 7th Street, NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20531 Email: Devon.Adams@usdoj.gov Phone: (202) 307-0765
Website Address (153):
http://bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=49
Examples of Funded Projects (170):
Not Applicable.
Criteria for Selecting Proposals (180):
Criteria are described in the OJP Program Announcement available at http://www.ojp.gov/funding/solicitations.htm.