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Source: Kenneth E. Melson, JD, AAFS CFSO Liaison
The CFSO is extremely excited to bring this message to you today. The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package, which will fund the government for FY18, was signed into law by President Trump on March 23. The House voted 256-167 in favor and the Senate voted 65-32. This budget has significant funding for forensic science and we are pleased that Congress listened to our message for the need to ensure that we have the tools to not only conduct daily business but also address the burden of the opioid crisis. CFSO worked very hard lobbying for these budget numbers. Since we are already in the FY18, this money flows immediately to the forensic community. If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Kenneth Melson, the American Academy of Forensic Science’s (AAFS) CFSO representative.
One specific change we want to highlight is the increased funding for Coverdell. Beth Lavach pushed very hard and built many amazing relationships; many members of the organizations pushed hard on the Hill and wrote letters, and, ultimately, Coverdell funding was increased from 12 million to 30 million to help laboratories and medical examiner/coroner offices immediately. This is amazingly significant because this amount is well above the authorized levels. We truly helped Congress understand how important this funding is to you.
In addition, we were able to ensure that there were no carve-outs from Coverdell funding for other programs. We have already made inquiry at the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) regarding the increase in Coverdell funding since we know the funding amount is a significant increase and the solicitation is currently out (due at the end of April). They have promised more information soon. We will keep you posted on the developments.
We were also able to successfully lobby for the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) funding to be put directly in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) budget, instead of a pass-through, to continue to develop forensic standards. We know how hard many of you are working at OSAC and look forward to more success in standards development for forensic science.
We had another success much earlier than expected. We have been working with Congress on appropriating more money for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor the opioid crisis. We met with the AAFS ad hoc Opioid task force at the annual meeting to devise a strategy for more assistance for the medical examiners/coroners. The budget includes $475,579,000 for CDC’s Opioid Prescription Drug Overdose (PDO) Prevention Activity, an increase of $350,000,000, and reflects continued strong support of the program. Congress expects this will include the expansion of case-level syndromic surveillance data, better timeliness and quality of morbidity and mortality data, as well as the enhancement of efforts with medical examiners and coroner offices.
In addition, the budget provides for an increase in funding to expand the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, which will allow researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to obtain a more complete understanding of violent deaths in the United States.
We are currently working with the Congress on FY19. As one staff member put it (when we called to thank them for their help on this funding), “On to FY19!!”
Click HERE for a summary chart of the amounts requested and the final amounts appropriated for forensic science.