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Strengthening the National Institute of Justice
Consistency, openness, efficiency, and fairness are characteristics associated with good research and development (R&D) project management (National Advisory Committee on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, 1976). They are also useful as a yardstick against which one can measure the quality of a research agency’s operations and determine how well they contribute to fulfilling its mission. For our analysis of research operations, the committee reviewed written OJP guidelines and policies (Office of Justice Programs, 2007c) and also relied heavily on interviews with former and current staff as to how these processes worked in reality and over time. Anyone familiar with bureaucracies knows that often there is a divide between what an official policy or process proposes and how things are actually done. In this report, we have found it necessary to distinguish the two.
We have also tried to describe the differences between the way the Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) and the Office of Science and Technology (OST) handle various functions. As described earlier, until the late 1990s, the social science research activities dominated the science and technology ones. Consequently, the background information on operations primarily describes how social science research activities are handled. After the mid-1990s, when the OST program greatly expanded, these processes were either adopted by OST or were modified to reflect its own statutory requirements and programmatic needs. We have tried to indicate the nature of these changes and when and how they occurred.
Past Planning Activities
Traditionally, planning at NIJ has been a bottom-up process, with staff playing a major role in determining research priorities. Although there had been some attempt to use an advisory board (see Chapter 2) to solicit input from a broader audience and build support for research activities, there is no documentation that the NIJ Advisory Committee in the 1970s or the NIJ Advisory Board in the 1980s contributed to a formal research plan.
Rather than rely on an overall advisory board to advise it on long-range planning and annual priorities or on an advisory infrastructure for specific program areas, NIJ has convened topical meetings and workshops to solicit input from practitioners and researchers1 on its social science research ac-
Throughout our report, we use the terms “researcher” and “practitioner” to refer broadly to two groups of people who generally differ from each other in their training, expertise, and