the American Community Survey or Current Population Survey; see Section 4–B.1).
BJS has sought input regarding contracting out the NCVS to the private sector. We urge careful consideration of survey cost structures prior to such a move. The panel notes that this review would be greatly facilitated if BJS could obtain disaggregated costs from the Census Bureau for the current NCVS. BJS should study other federal surveys contracted out to the private sector to determine the extent to which flexibility in dealing with changes and innovations was or was not realized. It should also study the implications of contracting out on the desired staff skills within BJS.
One way to increase understanding of the trade-offs of different NCVS designs and different contracting models is to seek formal design alternatives from the Census Bureau and others. A formal design competition could be mounted, perhaps through a set of commissioned designs, both from the Census Bureau and other survey methodologists. The designs would be guided by the same goals, articulated by BJS, but would be left to the creativity of the designers. The design options should be costed out in as much detail as possible, and the designs should be critiqued through peer review.
Recommendation 5.8: BJS should consider a survey design competition in order to get a more accurate reading of the feasibility of alternative NCVS redesigns. The design competition should be administered with the assistance of external experts, and the competition should include private organizations under contract and the Census Bureau under an interagency agreement.