TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1997202/307-0703


WASHINGTON -- An Office of Justice Programs (OJP) team has earned the prestigious Hammer Award for its success in reinventing a cumbersome, paper-intensive grant application and award process. Through the Hammer Award, Vice President Gore's National Performance Review recognizes teams of federal employees who have made significant contributions toward reinventing government operations.

In May 1996 the Block Grants Automation Team -- comprised of staff from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and OJP's Information Systems Division -- set about reinventing the grant application process, which was essentially unchanged since the late 1960s, to develop a new system capable of handling the more than 3,000 applications BJA expected under the new Local Law Enforcement Block Grants (LLEBG) Program. Facing a short deadline for fund distribution, the team simultaneously developed the new program and application kit, hired and trained new staff, assessed the needs of state and local applicants and grantees and most importantly, developed a brand new, user-friendly, automated system for application and award processing.

The new system allowed 18 staff to accomplish in just six months a task that, under the old system, would have taken a year's work from close to 100 staff.

"Our constituents -- state, local, and tribal governments -- can now apply for federal funding in about 20 minutes, without sacrificing quality or accuracy," said BJA Director Nancy Gist. "This system is proof that the federal grant application and award process does not have to be slow and cumbersome."

Under the new system, BJA's customers submit their applications the way they choose -- by disk, on-line, by fax or in hard copy. The team redesigned and shortened the application form into a one-page, scannable format. The system's scanning technology allows data from the paper application to be entered at the rate of 100 pages-per-minute. The process reduced the time to apply for federal funds and increased BJA's efficiency in processing applications and awarding funds.

"This system is revolutionizing the way OJP administers its grant programs," said OJP Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson. "By taking full advantage of the many technologies available to us and to our grantees, we have made the application and award process faster, more flexible and more efficient."

In addition to the LLEBG program, the automated system was used to process 600 grants under the BJA Church Arson Prevention Grant Program and 150 grants under the BJA State Criminal Alien Assistance Program.

Plans are under way to market the system within the Department of Justice, as well as to other federal agencies that administer grants. Additionally, information on the system will be provided to state grantees for use with subgrantees at the local level, potentially involving over 10,000 grants across the country.

The awards will be presented at OJP's Assistant Attorney General Awards Ceremony in December 1997.

For additional information regarding OJP and its programs, visit the OJP World Wide Web site at

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OJP 97-104

Contact: Angela Hussein, 202/305-0779