Created in 1995, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) implements the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and subsequent legislation and provides national leadership on issues of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. OVW administers grant programs that help provide services for victims, while improving communities’ capacity to hold offenders accountable for their crimes. Currently, OVW administers four formula-based and 15 discretionary grant programs established by VAWA and subsequent legislation. In recent years, the annual appropriation for these programs has been approximately $500 million.
OVW was established as an independent office on January 30, 2004, pursuant to the Violence Against Women Office Act, Pub. L. No. 107-273, tit. iv. (2002) The Act directed that there shall be a “separate and distinct” OVW within the Department of Justice, headed by a Presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed Director, who “shall report to the Attorney General and serve as Counsel to the Attorney General on the subject of violence against women, and who shall have final authority over all grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts awarded by the Office.” OVW’s Director reports to the Attorney General through the Associate Attorney General.
The major functions of OVW are to:
- Develop and manage grant programs and other initiatives, including providing technical assistance, authorized by VAWA and subsequent legislation.
- Provide information to the President, the Congress, the judiciary, state, local, and tribal governments, and the general public on matters relating to violence against women.
- Serve, at the request of the Attorney General, as the Department’s representative on domestic task forces, committees, or commissions addressing policy or issues relating to violence against women.
- Serve, as directed by the President and the Attorney General, as the representative of the United States Government on human rights and economic justice matters related to violence against women in international fora, including, but not limited to, the United Nations.
- Develop policy, protocols, and guidelines related to violence against women
- Provide assistance and support to: (1) other components of the Department, in efforts to develop policy and to enforce federal laws relating to violence against women, including the litigation of civil and criminal actions relating to such laws; (2) other federal, state, local, and tribal agencies, in efforts to develop policy, provide technical assistance, and improve coordination among agencies carrying out efforts to eliminate violence against women, including American Indian and Alaska Native women; and (3) grantees, in efforts to combat violence against women and to provide support and assistance to victims of such violence.