Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program

To protect the lives of law enforcement officers by helping State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies provide officers with armored vests.

Agency - Department of Justice

The Department of Justice enforces the law and defends the interest of the United States, ensuring public safety against threats foreign and domestic; providing Federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; seeking just punishment for those guilty of unlawful pursuits; and ensuring fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.

Program Accomplishments

This program approved 5,129 applications from states, territories, municipalities and tribal governments. These applications are expected to result in the purchase of approximately 190,000 vests. BJA experiences over a 4 year period of program operations show that system design, technology and hardware adequately supported the program. The technical support help desk successfully fielded thousands of calls and e-mail inquiries from participants.

Uses and Use Restrictions

The program pays up to 50 percent of the total cost of each vest order.

Total cost includes the cost of the vests, vest carriers, attachments, inserts, and covers considered integral or essential for its proper care, use, and wearability, shipping, handling, fitting charges, and applicable taxes.

The total invoiced price, after all vendor and prompt payment discounts have been deducted, is what the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) uses to determine the Federal match.

This program only allows the purchase of body armor that has been tested and found to comply with applicable ballistic and stab standards promulgated by the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ) Standard 0101.03 Ballistic Resistance of Police Body Armor.

In FY 2001, this program allowed the purchase of stab-resistant body armor.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Only chief executives of jurisdictions (or their designees) may apply for funds.

Jurisdictions are defined as general purpose units of local government (e.g., cities, towns, townships, boroughs, counties, etc.), Federally-recognized Indian tribes, the 50 State governments, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S.

Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

The chief executive of the jurisdiction registers on-line, submits the jurisdiction application, and requests payment for completed vest orders.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Only law enforcement officers may receive vests through this program. According to the Act, "law enforcement officer" means any officer, agent, or employee of a State, unit of local government, or an Indian tribe authorized by law or by a government agency to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, or investigation of any violation of criminal law, or authorized by law to supervise sentenced criminal offenders. Eligible officers may be full-time, part-time, paid or volunteer.


Eligible jurisdictions must be general purpose units of local government, Federally-recognized Indian tribes, the 50 state governments, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The validity of the on-line registration process is verified through independent reviews which may include certification by the banking institutions serving the jurisdiction, the U.S. Census Bureau, and agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

This is an Internet-based program.

The jurisdiction is required to complete and submit an on-line registration form, providing information about the jurisdiction's chief executive officer, program contact person, and electronic banking information.

The registration process is handled through the program's web site http://vests.ojp.gov.

For jurisdictions without Internet capability, other means of registration are available.

Only those jurisdictions with approved registrations are permitted to make application.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

The jurisdiction submits the application to BJA via the Internet web site http://vests.ojp.gov. On-line instructions guide the jurisdiction through the application process. Law enforcement agencies or agencies with law enforcement functions which meet the Act's definition, will assist in completing the jurisdiction's on-line application by indicating the types, numbers, and costs of vests they intend to order. For jurisdictions and/or agencies without Internet capability, other means of application are available. Only those jurisdictions that complete and submit applications will be eligible for matching funds from BJA.

Award Procedures

Applications received by BJA are reviewed for completeness, accuracy, and compliance with all program requirements. Each application is then checked against the availability of funds to cover up to 50 percent of the application's total cost, in keeping with established criteria for program fund allocation. When all checks are complete and the application approved, the jurisdiction is notified through e-mail that the necessary funds have been obligated.


Jurisdictions are permitted to apply only once per Federal fiscal year.


Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act of 1998, Public Law 105-181, June 16, 1998, and Bulletproof Vest Program Act of 2000, Public Law 106-517. Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, P.L. 110-161.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

A minimum of 15 working days may be required for complete registration validation, although jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies will have immediate access to certain program components during this validation process. A minimum of 20 working days may be required after the program closes for approval of the jurisdiction's application for funding. A minimum of 25 working days may be required for the electronic transfer of funds from the U.S. Treasury to the jurisdiction's bank account, once the request for funds has been received, reviewed, and approved by the Office of Justice Programs.





Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

The program requires that each applicant jurisdiction be responsible for providing at least 50 percent of the cost of each vest purchased. Tribal governments may use Federal funds to provide this match; all other jurisdictions must use nonfederal match funds. Nonfederal fund sources include State and/or local jurisdiction revenues, private or personal funds, and contributions from insurance or workman's compensation consortiums. Asset forfeiture funds may also be used to meet the jurisdiction's matching requirement. Beginning in FY 2002, changes (Bulletproof Vest Partnership Act of 2000) (Public Law 106-517) gives preference to small jurisdictions (those populations below 100,000) guaranteeing them the full 50 percent match payment before payments are calculated and approved for larger jurisdictions.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Jurisdictions with approved applications must request the federal match no later than September 30th of the fourth federal fiscal year following the end of the federal fiscal year in which their application was approved. In other words, the jurisdiction has four years beyond the year of their application to request payments for vests contained in that application. Payments of the federal match will be made whenever the jurisdiction indicates that at least part of the approved vest order was received and invoiced.

Post Assistance Requirements




Payments and transactions are subject to audits by the General Accounting Office, Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General, state or local government auditors, and auditors from independent public accounting firms. Jurisdictions must follow their local procurement policies and procedures, including maintenance of reliable and accurate accounting systems, record keeping, and systems of internal control.


Recipients of federal funds are expected to retain documentation supporting all program transactions for at least three years after the closure of audit reports related to such funding. If any litigation, claim, negotiation, audit, or other action involving records has been started before the expiration of the three year period, the records must be retained until completion of the action and resolution of all related issues, or until the end of the regular three year period, whichever is later.

Financial Information

Account Identification



FY 07 $26,616,840; FY 08 $23,970,000; and FY 09 est not available.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance


Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Interim Final Rule, Federal Register, September 23, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 184), Internet web site http://vests.ojp.gov.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

Bureau of Justice Assistance, 4th floor, 810 7th Street, N.W., Washington, DC, 20531. Contact: Linda Hammond-Deckard, Telephone: (202) 616-6500, Fax: (202) 616-0314, E-mail: askbja@ojp.usdoj.gov/bja. Justice Response Center. Telephone: 1-800-421-6770. Vest Technical Support Help Desk. Telephone: (1-877) 758-3787.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals


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Edited by: Michael Saunders

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