governments, to determine ways to improve the relevance, quality, and cost-effectiveness of justice statistics. The review will consider priority uses for additional funding that may be obtained through budget initiatives or reallocation of resources within the agency. A focus of the panel’s work will be to consider alternative options for conducting the National Crime Victimization Survey, which is the largest BJS program. The goal of the panel’s work will be to assist BJS to refine its priorities and goals, as embodied in its strategic plan, both in the short and longer terms. The panel’s recommendations will address ways to improve the impact and cost-effectiveness of the agency’s statistics on crime and the criminal justice system. [emphasis added]

Given the prominence of the NCVS in BJS operations—and its dominance of BJS budget resources—the panel was specifically asked to evaluate options for conducting the NCVS in our first year of work,5 before turning to the agency’s data collections related to other areas, like corrections and judicial processing. Consistent with this principal task of the report, it is important to make clear that this report is not intended to be a complete sourcebook on the NCVS; it is neither a full procedural history of the survey, a complete literature review of its uses, nor a detailed operational plan for any specific alternative design.6 This report is also not meant to revisit in full detail the comprehensive redesign efforts that culminated in the fielding of the new NCVS instrument in 1992. That redesign effort is reported thoroughly by Biderman et al. (1986) and Bureau of Justice Statistics (1989) and major issues faced in the redesign are also summarized by Skogan (1990). It generated a large body of valuable methodological research, much of which exists in technical BJS and Census Bureau memoranda. We do not reprise that work in detail in this report, but the recommendations we make do suggest the need for an ongoing evaluation system to produce a similar, rich body of updated methodological work to inform future NCVS design changes.

Due to the nature of our panel’s charge, it is also essential to underscore that this is a first-stage or interim report. As we discuss further in Section 3–D, the methodological focus of this report means that we do not attempt as exhaustive a listing of constituencies and uses for the NCVS as our overall charge suggests; we intend to consider a more complete assessment of the user base in our final report. Furthermore, this report does not and is not intended to provide comprehensive treatment of all BJS programs, nor


In “Strengthening Federal Statistics,” Appendix 4 of the president’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2008, one of two initiatives specifically referenced in the BJS budget request is “a redesign of the National Crime Victimization Survey based on anticipated recommendations from the Committee on National Statistics of the National Research Council,” i.e., this panel.


The two volumes edited by Lehnen and Skogan (1981, 1984) are an important resource on the early history of the survey.

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