In summary, the quality, range, reliability, and utility of statistical data on illegal drugs can be improved by undertaking several measures to improve the institutional structure at the federal level. Two key steps are necessary for improving the quality of data on illegal drugs:
Efforts should be taken to strengthen the professional staffs and capabilities of the organizations responsible for data collection and analysis and to increase the independence of their operations.
Data collection should over the long run be consolidated into a small number of statistical agencies, perhaps two, which would take a leadership role in organizing and collecting statistical data at the federal level.
Upgrading collection efforts in existing agencies and consolidation of data collection are essential tasks for improving the scope and quality of data on illegal drugs. Unless these organizational goals are achieved, the nation will continue to be poorly informed and policies on illegal drugs will be operating largely in the dark. But these steps require determined and effective leadership. Our final recommendation therefore concerns the need for leadership in organizational improvements and reorganization.
The committee recommends that the Office of National Drug Control Policy place organizational improvements for data high on its agenda in the immediate future. If it does not move quickly to implement the changes required to improve statistical data the President and Congress should find other ways to ensure that the substantive and organizational changes are swiftly and effectively achieved.
Executive Office of the President 1999 Report of the Drug Control Research, Data, and Evaluation Committee. Washington, DC: Office of National Drug Control Policy.
National Research Council 1992 Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency. Committee on National Statistics. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
2001 Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Second Edition. Committee on National Statistics. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.