- Justice Department to continue disbursements through March 1
- Officials had previously said money would be cut off Friday
The Justice Department office that disburses billions of dollars to groups that help victims of crime has told grant winners they’ll continue receiving payments through March 1, after initially saying funds would be cut off Friday because of the partial government shutdown.
The Office of Justice Programs emailed grant winners shortly before the close of business Thursday saying it would continue to operate through March 1, according to an email obtained by Bloomberg Government.
Most of the money in question goes to state governments, which then distribute it to a variety of organizations helping victims of crime by providing shelter, therapy services and support groups, among other services. Some of the money goes to tribal governments, city governments, nonprofits and others. The funds had already been appropriated by Congress and awarded to the grant winners, but payments were expected to stop because the office disbursing the money would shut down.
The office had previously announced it would cease operations Friday, and had told grant winners to submit their final payment requests by 6 a.m. Eastern time this morning. That caused organizations to scramble to submit as many expenses as possible, knowing they’d have to wait until the end of the shutdown to receive any more money, said Trudy Dulong, finance director for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, in a phone interview Thursday. Dulong said she received the email announcing the extension at about 5 p.m. on Thursday. Bloomberg Government separately obtained a copy of the email.
The Office for Victims of Crime, which is within the Office of Justice Programs, awarded more than $3 billion in grants in fiscal 2018 to state governments and nonprofit groups. While that money had already been awarded, the organizations don’t receive the money up front. Officials regularly processed “drawdown requests” to parcel out the money based on their expenses. If the Office of Justice Programs had entered shutdown mode, the money would have been cut off.
The office is one of several agencies that have found other funding sources to continue operations despite the shutdown, which started Dec. 22. For example, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts had enough money to continue operations through the end of the day Friday. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said earlier this week that his agency should have enough funds to last another five weeks. Those efforts to shift money around have created a series of rolling deadlines as the longest-ever shutdown continues with no resolution in sight.
Office of Justice Programs officials didn’t immediately respond to questions on how they were able to continue operations through March 1. But the email makes it clear grant payments will continue.
“While OJP remains operational, grantee payment requests received through the Grants Payment Request System (GPRS) will be processed and submitted to Treasury for payment on a daily basis,” the email reads.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jack Fitzpatrick in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org