Overview: Types of Funding
Federal, state, and tribal victim assistance and compensation programs receive formula grants, discretionary grants, and set-asides according to a statutorily established annual allocation procedure.
Starting in 2000, in response to large fluctuations in deposits (also known as receipts), Congress established an appropriation cap on funds available for distribution (or obligation) intended to maintain the Crime Victims Fund (the Fund) as a stable source of support for future victim services. As of February 2021, the Fund balance is over $2.6 billion.
Each year, once Congress establishes the appropriation cap, the funds are allocated in accordance with the following process:
- The Children’s Justice Act receives $10 million plus 50 percent of the previous year’s deposits over $324 million, with a maximum award of $20 million.
- The Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) receives funding for 213 victim coordinators, specialists, and advocates and positions providing administrative support for victim services as of FY 2016. These funded positions support direct services for victims of federal crimes by assisting victims during proceedings and advising them of their rights, including their right to make oral and written victim impact statements at sentencing hearings.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) receives funding for victim specialists assigned to field offices across the country to personally assist victims of federal crimes and provide information on criminal cases as they progress and throughout court proceedings.
- The Federal Victim Notification System (VNS) receives up to $5 million.
- Five percent of the remaining balance is allocated for OVC discretionary grants.
- OVC Formula Grants
- Allocations for state compensation formula grants may not exceed 47.5 percent of the remaining balance based on the states’ compensation payments.
- State victim assistance formula grants receive 47.5 percent of the remaining balance plus any funds not needed to reimburse victim compensation programs at the statutorily established rates.
Additional information about each of these funding streams and the Fund allocation process is available in the 2017 OVC Report to the Nation.
The Children's Justice Act provides up to $20 million annually to help states and tribes develop, establish, and operate programs to improve the investigation and prosecution of child abuse and neglect cases, particularly cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation, and to improve the handling of cases of suspected child abuse or neglect fatalities.
OVC administers $3 million annually to tribes through its Children’s Justice Act Partnerships for Indian Communities Program to support culturally relevant programs in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
Victim assistance staff in U.S. Attorneys’ Offices assist victims of federal crimes and inform them of their rights and how to access needed services, including restitution and their right to make oral and written victim impact statements at an offender’s sentencing, in accordance with the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance.
FBI victim specialists use expertise in victim assistance, crisis intervention, and social services to keep victims of federal crimes informed of case developments and proceedings and direct them to appropriate resources in accordance with the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance. OVC supports 192 full-time equivalent positions at FBI headquarters and at field offices throughout the United States.
The Federal Victim Notification System is automated database that notifies victims of federal criminal case events regarding offenders, including the status of an investigation, filing of criminal charges and the disposition of those charges, release or detention status, and public court hearings.
The Federal Victim Notification System is administered by EOUSA for participation by all U.S. Attorney’s Offices; DOJ Criminal Division; FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts; and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Federal revenues deposited into the Fund come from—
- Criminal fines from convicted federal offenders, with exceptions for funds related to certain environmental, railroad, unemployment insurance, and postal service violations.
- Forfeited appearance bonds from convicted federal offenders.
- Special forfeitures of collateral profits from crime.
- Special assessments for individuals and corporations convicted of federal crimes.
- Gifts, donations, and bequests by private parties.
The VOCA statute allows amounts retained in the Fund above the annual appropriation cap to be used to replenish the Antiterrorism Emergency Reserve (the Reserve), up to $50 million annually. The OVC Director may replenish the Reserve by setting aside up to 5 percent of the amounts remaining in the Crime Victims Fund in any fiscal year after the VOCA allocations for that year. The Reserve funds emergency expenses and other services for victims of terrorism and mass violence within the United States and abroad.
The Reserve supports the following programs:
- Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program
- International Terrorism Victim Expense Reimbursement Program
- EOUSA Emergency Assistance Fund
- FBI’s Victim Services Division Emergency Assistance funds
- National Security Division, Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism’s Criminal Justice Participation Assistance Fund
- Office of Military Commissions for closed-circuit television viewing sites for victims and families
- Special Masters reimbursement in certain terrorism-related federal civil lawsuits
OVC also partners with other government agencies to provide innovative services that address the wide range of issues that affect victims. The following programs help victims in fundamental ways:
- The Federal Crime Victims Assistance Fund, managed by the FBI; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Executive Office for United States Attorneys; and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Investigations, assists victims and survivors with services immediately after the crime, such as paying for travel expenses for family members and cleaning up the crime scene.
- The Treasury Offset Program (TOP) is a centralized debt collection program that helps agencies collect delinquent debts owed to the Federal Government by matching delinquent debtor files against outstanding debts. When TOP finds a match, the program intercepts funds before they reach the debtor and uses them to offset any outstanding debt owed to the government, such as federal tax refunds. Since 2003, TOP has helped U.S. Attorneys’ Offices intercept criminals’ funds and use them to pay criminals’ debts, resulting in over $200 million in restitution paid to crime victims.
- OVC supports 10 victim advocacy positions at the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. These positions help the Bureau of Indian Affairs ensure victims’ rights in tribal communities and provide training and technical assistance on victim services.
Trafficking Victims Protection Act
Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and subsequent reauthorizations, OVC receives specially designated government funds, independent of appropriations from the Fund, to support victim service organizations to provide trauma-informed, culturally appropriate services for survivors of human trafficking.
OVC supports a variety of human trafficking grant initiatives, which include the Enhanced Collaborative Model to Combat Human Trafficking program and the Services for Victims of Human Trafficking program. For more information, visit the Map of OVC-Funded Human Trafficking Services and Task Forces.