The Victims Compensation and Assistance Act (Pub. L. No. 98‑473), as amended through the 1984 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), 42 U.S.C.§ 10601 (2006), established a monetary account known as the Crime Victims Fund (Fund). It contains money derived not from tax dollars, but from fines and penalties that federal criminal offenders must pay as part of their sentences. The largest source of deposits in the Fund comes from criminal fines.
The VOCA established the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) within DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP). It authorized the Director of the OVC to administer funding to state and federal agencies for their victim assistance and compensation programs through the Fund.
In 1997, the OVC allocated $8 million to support the development of an automated victim information and notification system for the federal justice system. That same year, $21 million was returned to the Fund and made available to the OVC to improve services to crime victims in the federal criminal justice system. Congress authorized the establishment of an automated victim information and notification system for federal cases through this funding.
The OVC and EOUSA entered into an Inter-Agency Agreement in June 1998 whereby funds were made available through the Fund for the establishment of an automated notification system and to pay for an assessment analysis. EOUSA spearheaded the project, with the assistance from a working group comprised of representatives from the FBI, the OVC, and the BOP.
The VNS working group hired an outside consulting agency to analyze each component’s requirements for an automated system, review current available systems that might be expanded to meet the specific needs of the initiative, and develop the system. The analysis was completed January 1999 and the system was deployed in 2001.
The cost of the notification system was estimated to be $8 million and by FY 2000 that amount was transferred from the OVC to EOUSA in reimbursable agreements. Specifically, $559,121 was transferred to EOUSA in FY 1998 for requirement analysis; $193,764 was added to VNS funding for salary, benefit, and travel costs for the VNS Program Manager in FY 1999; and approximately $7.2 million was added for the deployment of the system in FY 2000. The expected outcome of this system was to develop an automated victims’ information database and a means to provide timely victim notification of the current status of offenders in the federal criminal justice system.
The Justice for All Act of 2004 (Pub. L. No. 108-405) authorized appropriations of $2 million for FY 2005 and $5 million in each fiscal year from 2006 through 2009 to the OVC for enhancement of the VNS. Review of the Reimbursable Agreements between the OVC and EOUSA indicate the actual funding approved each year starting in FY 1998, as displayed in the following table.
|Reimbursable Agreements between
the OVC and EOUSA for the VNS