Victims of Crime Act (VOCA)

CFDA # 16.575

This portion of the OCJP Administrative Manual is provided for use by all subrecipient staff receiving federal grant funds from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Victims of Crime Act Formula Grant program. It is intended to serve as reference for the programmatic requirements/responsibilities of projects funded through the Victims of Crime Act Grant Program.

See VOCA Federal Legislative Authority

VOCA subrecipients must adhere to all requirements in the  applicable OMB Circulars and Common Rules (Appendix T), the DOJ Grants Financial Guide, the OMB Uniform Guidance, and the 2020 Compliance Supplement.

Additional information for VOCA funded programs:

    Domestic Violence Shelters - Family Violence Shelter Standards

    Transitional Housing - TN Transitional Housing Guidelines


The final rule for its Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Formula Victim Assistance Grant Program was published in the Federal Register with an effective date of August 8, 2016. OCJP will have an effective date of January 1, 2017 for the new VOCA regulations. Please review the new regulations,  https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-07-08/pdf/2016-16085.pdf

On July 22, 2021, the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 was signed into law. Passage of the VOCA Fix represents a monumental victory for the future of victim services both nationally and throughout Tennessee. Effective October 1, 2021, all VOCA contracts will suspend all requirements to meet match. The suspension of match will extend for an additional year after the pandemic is no longer declared a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.). 

In 1984, VOCA established the Crime Victims Fund in the U.S. Treasury and authorized the Fund to receive deposits of fines and penalties levied against criminals convicted of federal crimes. The Department of Justice is responsible for the distribution of the funds, which are collected by U.S. Attorney’s Offices, U.S. Courts, and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. This Fund provides the source of funding for all activities authorized by VOCA.

The purpose of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) is to provide high quality services that directly improve the health and well-being of victims of crime with priority given to victims of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and services for previously underserved victims. The Office for Crime Victims (OVC) makes annual VOCA crime victim assistance grants from the Fund to states. The primary purpose of these grants is to support the provision of services to victims of crime throughout the nation. For the purpose of these Programs Guidelines, services are defined as those efforts that:

  • Respond to the emotional and physical needs of crime victims;
  • Assist primary and secondary victims of crime to stabilize their lives after victimization;
  • Assist victims to understand and participate in the criminal justice system, provide victims of crime with a measure of safety and security such as boarding up broken windows and replacing or repairing locks.

The governor of each state designates the state agency that will administer the VOCA victim assistance grant program. In Tennessee, the Department of Finance and Administration, Office of Criminal Justice Programs is the administering agency. The designated agency establishes policies and procedures. VOCA funds granted to the states are to be used by eligible public and private nonprofit organizations to provide direct services to crime victims. States have sole discretion for determining which organizations will receive funds, and in what amounts, as long as the subrecipients meet the requirements of VOCA.

VOCA establishes eligibility requirements and criteria that must be met by all organizations receiving VOCA funds. This guidance can be found in the VOCA Federal Guidelines: Chapter IV. PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS prior to January 1, 2017 or  2016 VOCA Federal Guidelines beginning January 1, 2017.

  1. State Grantee Eligibility Requirements
  2. Subrecipient Organization Eligibility Requirements
  3. Eligible Subrecipient Organizations
  4. Ineligible Recipients of VOCA Funds

In addition, state specific requirements and clarification are listed below:

Volunteers: Subrecipient organizations must have volunteers unless the state determines there is a compelling reason to waive this requirement. A “compelling reason” may be a statutory or contractual provision concerning liability or confidentiality of counselor/victim information, which bars using volunteers for certain positions, or the inability to recruit and maintain volunteers after a sustained and aggressive effort. All requests for waivers must be made in writing to OCJP providing specific details. Volunteers are not required to work in the VOCA program unless the time is used as in-kind match. All supervision, background checks, training requirements, file documentation, etc. for volunteers providing direct services to victims must be consistent with the agency policy for paid staff providing the same or similar direct service(s).

Victim Compensation Information/Assistance: (Revised 7/1/2018) Such assistance may include identifying and notifying crime victims of the availability of compensation, assisting them with documentation, and/or with application forms and procedures, obtaining necessary documentation, and/or checking on claim status. All victims who appear to be eligible must be notified of their right to apply for compensation from Criminal Injury Compensation. Documentation must be made in each case file indicating that the victim has or has not been informed of his/her right to file for compensation. If a client is not informed of his/her rights for compensation a valid reason must be documented in the case file. If a client is clearly not eligible for compensation, it must be documented in the case file along with a valid reason for non-eligibility. If there is any question relating to eligibility the client must be informed of his/her right to file for compensation. At least one direct service provider on staff must be trained in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program by the Tennessee Department of Treasury with certificate of completion documented in grant and personnel file and attend the training once every 3 years to get the most up to date information.  All staff providing direct services to victims must receive training on Criminal Injury Compensation within 3 months of hire and once every 3 years thereafter, this can be satisfied through in-house training provided by the staffer trained by the Department of Treasury and must be documented in grant and personnel file. In-house training should be based on the Tennessee Criminal Injury Compensation Program website at http://treasury.tn.gov/injury/index.html and/or current pamphlets /information received from the Tennessee Criminal Injury Compensation Program.

Domestic Violence Shelters:  All Family Violence Shelter Programs must comply with the Family Violence Shelter State Standards.

VOCA subrecipients must meet all allowable and unallowable cost requirements listed in the VOCA Federal Guidelines: Chapter IV. PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS, E. Services, Activities, and Costs at the Subrecipient Level prior to January 1, 2017 or  2016 VOCA Federal Guidelines beginning January 1, 2017.

In addition, state specific requirements and clarification are listed below. For further clarification contact your OCJP Program Manager.

  1. Additional Allowable Cost Information:
    1. VOCA Administrative Time: VOCA funds may support administrative time to complete VOCA-required time and attendance sheets and programmatic documentation, reports, and statistics; administrative time to collect and maintain crime victim’s satisfaction surveys and needs assessments used to improve victim services delivery in the VOCA funded project; and the prorated share of audit costs if eligible.
    2. Direct monetary funds given to clients (gift cards, cash or checks written to the client) are unallowable.   Providing Specific Assistance to individuals, which may include making payments on behalf of shelter residents for needed emergency items while they are in shelter, is allowable.
  2. Prior Approval:
    1. Training Related Travel: VOCA funds can support costs such as travel, meals, lodging, and registration fees to attend training within the state or a similar geographical area. Subrecipients are encouraged to first look for available training within their immediate geographical area. However, when needed training is unavailable within the immediate area, OCJP must be contacted for prior approval for travel outside the state. Expenses and reimbursements for all in state and out of state travel must follow the State of Tennessee Comprehensive Travel Regulations or the subrecipient travel regulations/rates, if lower.
    2. Equipment and Furniture: VOCA funds may be used to purchase furniture and equipment that provides or enhances direct services to crime victims. Costs must be pro-rated if the equipment is not used exclusively for victim-related activities. Clothing, furniture and appliance costs must be pre-approved by OCJP before a purchase is made. Subrecipients cannot use VOCA funds to purchase equipment for another organization or individual to perform a victim-related service. Equipment is defined as tangible non-expendable personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit. “Sensitive Minor Equipment” defined as moveable, high-risk, sensitive property items purchased with a cost between $500.00 and $5,000.00, such as computers (i.e., laptops, tablets), weapons, TVs, and cameras, acquired, used and managed for criminal justice and victim services grant purposes.
    3. Purchasing or Leasing Vehicles: Subrecipients may use VOCA funds to purchase or lease vehicles if they can demonstrate to OCJP that such expenditure is essential to delivering services to crime victims. OCJP must give PRIOR approval for all such purchases.

See All Fund Sources: Chapters XIV. Allowable Costs and XV. Unallowable Costs for more information.

Reporting requirements for VOCA subrecipients include an OCJP Subgrant Award Projection Report (SAR), Quarterly Output Report, Client Outcome Report, Narrative Performance Report, Policy 03 Quarterly Expense and Revenue Report, Project Equipment Report (if equipment was purchased), Income Summary Report, and a monthly Invoice for Reimbursement form.  These reports are used to monitor projects, fulfill federal grant reporting requirements, provide information for state strategies and implementation plans and assist OCJP in determining project success and funding allocations. The Project Director is responsible for timely submission of completed program and fiscal reports. Inability to submit required reports in a timely fashion is considered a failure of required contract obligations. Unless otherwise stated, VOCA subrecipients are expected to participate in all report training events.

NOTE: The subrecipient is required to gather and maintain statistical data relating to grant project activities as required by the Office of Criminal Justice Programs. The data collected should support the information submitted on all reports. OCJP may periodically request to see the back-up data that supports the information submitted on your output and outcome reports.

Information about VOCA Reports can be found in the Reporting webpage.

V. Printing, Publication, and Media

Publication shall be construed as the initiation of the procurement of writing, editing, preparation of related illustration material, including videos, from recipients/subrecipients, or the internal printing requirements of the recipient/subrecipient necessary for compliance with the terms of the project. However, individuals are authorized to make or have made by any means available to them, without regard to the copyright of the journal and without royalty, a single copy of any such article for their own use.

Project Directors are encouraged to make the results and accomplishments of their activities available to the public. A recipient/subrecipient who publicizes project activities and results shall adhere to the terms and conditions of the award as well as the following:

1.       Responsibility for the direction of the project activity should not be ascribed to OCJP or DOJ. The publication shall include the following statement:

“The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, or the State of Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs.

The receipt of DOJ funding does not constitute an official recognition or endorsement of any project.  A separate application for Official Recognition may be filed with DOJ  through the OCJP Program Manager assigned the project.

2.       The recipient agrees that all materials and publications (written, web-based, audio-visual, or any other format) resulting from subaward activities shall contain the following statement:

"This project was supported by Award No. ____________awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice through the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs”.

The OCJP Program Manager will verify the FEDERAL Award Number PRIOR to printing or publication.

3.       A recipient/subrecipient is expected to publish or otherwise make widely available to the public, as requested by OCJP or OVC, the results of work conducted or produced under an award.

4.       All publication and distribution agreements with a publisher will include provisions giving the Federal government and State of Tennessee a royalty-free, nonexclusive, and irrevocable license to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use and to authorize others to use the publication for Federal government purposes.

5.       Unless otherwise specified in the award, the recipient/subrecipient may copyright any books, publications, films, or other copyrightable material developed or purchased as a result of award activities. Copyrighted material shall be subject to the same provisions of the Federal government.

6.       The recipient/subrecipient shall submit a publication and distribution plan to OCJP before materials developed under an award are commercially published or distributed. The plan shall include a description of the materials, the rationale for commercial publication and distribution, the criteria to be used in the selection of a publisher, and, to assure reasonable competition, the identification of firms that will be approached.  Prior OCJP approval of this plan is required for publishing project activities and results when Federal funds are used to pay for the publication.

VOCA recipients are required to provide a 20% match share of the overall requested budget (28 CFR 94.118) unless a Waiver of Match has been approved. Match requirements may be waived for programs that can provide documentation of need as outlined in 28 CFR 94.118(b)(3) of the VOCA Victim Assistance Final Program Guidelines.

OCJP’s policy is to approve full and partial match waivers only in very specific circumstances. VOCA provides numerous examples of match, whether cash or in-kind, which an agency can utilize. Agencies are encouraged and assisted by their OCJP Program Manager in identifying those match sources within the agency. OCJP monitors compliance with match appropriately throughout the subaward. Match waivers must be well-justified.

OCJP allows for match waivers based on the following conditions, wherein the agency demonstrates the waiver is due to:

1.) practical and/or logistical obstacles to providing match (e.g., public agencies that do not engage in private fundraising and may have limitations on soliciting contributing funds);

2.) local resource constraints (e.g., rural community with limited local funding availability or volunteer capacity);

3.) increases to VOCA funding where local funding availability has not increased to the same degree;

4.) past ability to provide match related to current ability to provide match.

Additionally, agencies whereby the following financial status exists are ineligible for a match waiver:

1.) Current ratio above 2.9

2.) Cash reserves sufficient to cover match, including supplementing for lack of volunteers or donations. It is expected to utilize cash reserves to cover for lack of in-kind when available.

3.) Sufficient nonfederal fund sources supporting the same project and not currently used to match other sources.

4.) Volunteers or other in-kind donations not currently used to match other sources should be utilized as match before seeking match waiver. All in-kind sources must be exhausted before the agency is eligible for consideration for a match waiver.

5.) Must maintain same level of match currently met unless there has been an extreme change in the source of that match and there is no other match option available to replace the loss of the prior source of match.

To receive a match waiver, agencies must submit a Waiver of Match Request Letter and application which includes the following information:

1.) Type-written on the program’s agency letterhead, addressed, and sent to the Director via their assigned Program Manager. Letter and Application for Match Waiver is to be signed by the authorized official of the agency;

2.) Clearly indicate/describe the hardship and/or type of circumstances that will hinder the program’s ability to provide the required level of match;

3.) Indicate the dollar amount of match the agency can bring without hindering services to recipients, including in-kind match demonstrating the request for full or partial (10%) match waiver;4.) Outline the issues related to the project’s lack of resources (i.e. volunteers, other funding, in- kind donations);

5.) Address if a match waiver is approved, does the organization anticipate this is a one-time request, or are there extenuating circumstances that will require a waiver request for the life of the contract;

6.) Explain how the denial of a match waiver would impact the VOCA project;

7.) Advise whether the program would have to decline all or part of the grant award if a match waiver is not granted;

8.) Outline what steps the organization plans to take in order to be able to meet the match requirement in the future;

9.) Include the Application for Match Waiver Form with required documentation.

Match waivers are approved on a tiered basis determined by an agency’s proposed match set forth in the above letter, including cash and in-kind. Verification of ability to make match will be based on prior ability to make match, agencies past ability to spend contracted amount, and a review of other avenues of match (in-kind). Match waivers will be approved as follows:

1.) Demonstrated ability to make the full match; 20% match required

2.) Demonstrated inability to make the 20% match; partial match of 10% required

3.) Demonstrated inability to make the 20% match; full match waiver, no match required

4.) A brief description of the project/services provided by subrecipient;

5.) The justification (consistent with the considerations under the applicable waiver guidance);

6.) The scope of the waiver, and waiver amount (unless specified otherwise by OCJP, the waiver amount should create an equivalent match waiver percentage to be applied should the project budget change); and

7.) The determinations will state affirmatively that OCJP approves or denies the waiver request for the reasons set out in the determination letter.

a. Waivers can be applied to a multi-year funding award; however, match waivers will be reassessed annually.

b. Match waivers will be approved at the start of each contract, barring extreme circumstances.

c. OCJP will submit each match waiver determination to OVC (via GAM, or as otherwise specified by OVC) by no later than 90 days after fiscal year end.

d. OCJP will obtain OVC approval for any match waiver requested by a subrecipient within the 30 days before the subaward project end date.

e. All match waiver determination letters, which are typically sent via email to the agency’s Authorized Official, will be approved and signed by OCJP’s Director or designee.

One year after the national emergency pandemic period has ended, OCJP will resume the standard match waiver process as described above. Until then, all match requirements will be removed from agency invoices. At the conclusion of a national emergency pandemic period, OCJP will honor all match waivers granted during that period until they expire at the end of the applicable VOCA subaward for which match was waived. New VOCA subawards or discrete renewals or continuations made after the end of that period would no longer qualify for mandatory match waiver. Any match waiver requests for those subawards should be considered under OCJP’s standard match waiver process.

This Page Last Updated: September 27, 2023 at 7:41 AM