Public Safety Budget Analysis and Forecast for 2023
Public Safety Budget Analysis and Forecast for 2023

By Shannon M. Day, Senior Grants Development Consultant – Public Safety

The two primary federal funding agencies for public safety initiatives are the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. A review of the FY 2023 Federal Budget provides a glimpse into what these agencies will prioritize in the coming year.

Department of Justice

The DOJ received an increase of about 14% in total funding over FY 2022. Notably, among the seven funding offices within the department, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Campus Program got a boost from $22 million to $25 million, half of that dedicated to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Tribal Colleges. The Office of Community Oriented Policing (COPS) will see additional funding for hiring and policing initiatives, including an increase to $45 million from $40 million for the Community Policing Development suite of grants. The School Violence Prevention Program receives the same amount of funding through the budget ($53 million), but the program will receive an additional $20 million annually through 2026 through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act passed last summer.

A notable decrease or focus shift in funding is for a few of the Bureau of Justice Assistance Smart Suite (or Innovation Suite) programs, namely the Smart Policing Initiative (formerly Strategies for Policing Innovation) and the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program (formerly Innovations in Community-Based Crime Reduction). Based on preliminary information, the BJA will likely use this year to evaluate funded Smart projects and reassess priorities for future funding. More information on these and other Smart programs is forthcoming.

Department of Homeland Security

The DHS saw a minor decrease in overall funding, most likely attributed to programs funded through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) – like the new State and Local Cybersecurity Program (SLCGP), and mitigation programs like Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) and Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM). The State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSP) and Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) received less funding. This decrease may mean states will not fund cybersecurity through these programs, as has been done in past years. Programs that saw no change in funding include the Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG), Operation Stonegarden, Tribal Homeland, Port, and Transit Security. The Assistance to Firefighters and SAFER Programs also saw no change. One notable increase in funding is the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, with a total funding increase from $250 million to $305 million.


Forecast for the Year Ahead

Thematically across the criminal justice and public safety spectrum, we are seeing a continued response to natural disasters, increasing in number and strength due to climate change, and man-made disasters like terrorism, both physical and cyber.

Response to the increase in violent crime, gang, and gun violence will continue to be a priority; we saw an uptick in violent crime across the country during and after the COVID epidemic, and this upward trend continues. Some other policing trends we will see include community engagement and transparency, collaboration and training for mental health crisis response, opioid (specifically fentanyl) response, and initiatives for underserved communities, including rural and tribal communities.

Funding for specialty courts (like mental health, veterans, juvenile, etc.) will continue along with evidence storage and dissemination, cross-sector information sharing, and information security for justice agencies. Reentry initiatives, like helping inmates successfully reintegrate into society by providing education and employment assistance, will be the focus for corrections, probation, and parole agencies.

We at Grants Office will continue to keep our finger on the pulse of funding trends for public safety in 2023 and beyond.