Searching for Federal Grants

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
This resource has both print and online versions which include 64 federal agencies, including all major cabinet level departments. The home page of the CFDA ( allows the grant seeker to download the 2009 print edition. It is not necessary to have an account on this site in order to search the catalog or view programs.

A basic search can be done by inputting a keyword or program number and/or the type of assistance (grant, loan, federal contract, training, federal employment, etc.). A list of program solicitations will appear. The searcher may then click on a particular grant opportunity and receive a very complete description of that program. However, no application forms are available, and the grant seeker is referred to the specific agencies for that information. The listing will contain all programs which make grants for certain types of projects (i.e., environmental, law enforcement, education, etc.) whether the opportunity is currently open to accept applications or not. Many federal programs accept applications once a year.

Advanced searches allow the grant seeker to input the following: full text, assistance type (grant, loan, etc.), applicant eligibility, use of the assistance, beneficiary eligibility (the types of persons which the program will ultimately benefit, such as job recipients in the case of an economic development program), functional codes (agriculture, natural resources, law enforcement etc.), deadline, date modified, date published, whether the opportunity is funded by ARRA money, subject terms and whether the opportunity is subject to the clearinghouse requirement.

Both the basic and advanced searches will produce the following information: authorization for the program, its objectives, the types of assistance available, applicant eligibility, application and award process, post-award reporting requirements, matching funds required, and timeline. A very handy user’s guide can also be downloaded. In addition, clicking on specific agencies will produce a list of programs administered by that agency. The user has the ability to click on a particular program and view it separately.

It could be deduced that searching on CFDA should yield more opportunities due to the fact that there are sixty-four agencies available on that site and only forty-two on Of course, both sites contain listings for all of the major cabinet agencies. I would like to give a very interesting example of the widely varying results which can be obtained by searching both sites. I had a client who wished to open a school to train firefighters. While searching, I used the keyword “firefighter”, “firefighting”, and “firefighter training”. Much to my surprise, I only got one result, a program administered by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. On using the same terms in CFDA, I got over six hundred results.

Funding for Law Enforcement Agencies

There are many sources of funds for law enforcement agencies for such purposes as the hiring of new employees, overtime, and the purchase of equipment. A significant portion of the funding available to law enforcement agencies is passed from the federal government to the states for distribution to local police departments and sheriffs’ departments.  In addition, many states appropriate funds from their own budget for this purpose.  Generally, one agency plays the lead role in distributing the NOFA (Notice of Funding Availability), and accepting and reviewing applications.


In order to determine the agency which handles the funding for law enforcement in your state, go to the website for that state. Do a search for the state agency which handles law enforcement issues.  In most cases, that is the agency which distributes the grant funds.  In the state of Maryland, this agency is referred to as the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention.  However, in New Hampshire, for example, the appropriate agency is referred to as the Department of Safety. In Nevada, the administering agency for law enforcement grants is the Department of Public Safety.


The single largest source of law enforcement funds is the U.S. Department of Justice. There are a number of programs administered by this agency which are channeled directly to local law enforcement agencies.  A significant portion of the funds, however, are channeled to the states for distribution.


There are three separate categories of grants awarded by the U.S. Justice Department to localities. One of these is the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants.  This funding was created by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.  The theory behind this program is that crime can be reduced by having law enforcement interact with the community through special events and neighborhood- oriented patrols.  This program also recognizes that such activities as Neighborhood Watch, Operation ID, and D.A.R.E. (Drug Awareness and Resistance Education) can also have a significant impact on reducing the crime rate.