The availability of computerized criminal records is essential for criminal investigations, prosecutorial charging, sentencing decisions, correctional supervision and release, and background checks. Administered by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the NCHIP is an umbrella program to help States meet evolving requirements concerning criminal histories and related records such as protective orders and sex offender registries. The program began in 1995 with funds appropriated under the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. As of 1997, $112 million has been made available in direct grants to every State, the District of Columbia, and eligible territories to improve their criminal history record systems. Overall program goals are to facilitate the accurate and timely identification of persons who are not eligible to purchase firearms; ensure persons with responsibility for child care, elder care, or care of the disabled do not have disqualifying criminal records; improve access to protection orders and records of persons wanted for stalking and domestic violence; and enhance the quality, completeness, and accessibility of criminal history record systems. Applications for NCHIP grants are accepted only from the single State agency designated by the governor to coordinate the distribution of funds within the State. The application and award process is detailed, and information on application and administrative requirements and application forms are appended.