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Strengthening the National Institute of Justice
technology assistance or capacity-building activities. The financial data provided to the committee were often not broken down by research area or were incomplete. For example, some data were available for only a limited number of years, and some data relating to the use of contracts or interagency agreements, known sources of funding for research in certain areas (e.g., body armor), often were not provided as part of the financial history submitted to the committee or available publicly. Although we were able to construct a broadly representative picture of NIJ’s funding history, we are aware that it is at best an approximate picture.
NIJ undertakes numerous activities designed to carry out its science mission, and foremost among them is funding research studies. NIJ is authorized to make research grants and contracts with individuals, agencies, institutions of higher education, industry, and private organizations. The planning and monitoring of these awards are undertaken at the staff level through the two program offices and their respective divisions. ORE supports social science research to advance knowledge and shape best criminal justice practices. The research portfolio of OST can be broadly described as applied research aimed at developing technologies that serve criminal justice needs. Substantive areas for both offices are listed in Box 3-1.
Analysis of Awards
The committee’s programmatic and financial description of NIJ’s research portfolio is based on a database of NIJ awards for the period 1995-2008 that we assembled for this purpose. The database was created from an archive of awards available on the NIJ website.2 Nearly 5,000 awards are listed online, organized by topical areas and identified with award title, principal investigator (until 2004), institution, and award amount. The topics assigned by NIJ are relatively similar across the years, although some categories have shifted from those reflecting program goals to those describing criminal justice functions and issues. Also, NIJ modified its categories in years when it received allocated funds for specific work, such as violence against women and DNA backlogs and research. (For example, see Box 3-2 for a comparison of topics in 1995 and 2006.) Seeking a consistent set of topics for the 14-year period, the committee chose to organize the awards around the following four categories: