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About the NIJ Office of Research, Evaluation, and Technology

The Office of Research, Evaluation, and Technology (ORET) within NIJ encourages and supports research, development and evaluation to further the understanding of:

  • Causes and correlates of crime and violence.
  • Methods of crime prevention and control.
  • Criminal justice system responses to crime and violence.

Through ORET, NIJ contributes to the improvement of the criminal and juvenile justice systems and their responses to crime, violence, and delinquency.

ORET accomplishes this work with a staff of skilled scientists and engineers through a program incorporating elements of both extramural and intramural research. NIJ’s science staff are supported and augmented by research assistants and fellows. The NIJ Research Assistantship Program provides highly qualified doctoral students with practical and applied research experience. Learn more about the program. NIJ fellowship programs provide funding both for external research and for participants to come work at NIJ. Learn more about our fellowship programs.

Extramural research activities are implemented primarily through grants, agreements and contracts with other federal research agencies, academic institutions and other relevant organizations.  

Major Activities of the NIJ Office of Research, Evaluation, and Technology

ORET has three major programs supporting the Department of Justice’s efforts to reduce crime and promote public safety:

  • Conducting Social Science Research and Evaluation—develops and evaluates programs and practices that reduce and prevent crime and promote the fair and administration of justice, focusing on, but not limited to violent crime. Research areas include, but are not limited to, human trafficking, violence against women—including American Indian and Alaska Native Women—policing, domestic terrorism, firearms violence, corrections—with a particular focus on innovative reentry programs, and desistance from crime.
  • Developing Technology Solutions to Criminal Justice Challenges—strives to provide criminal and juvenile justice agencies safer, more effective, and more efficient technologies. Major areas of interest include the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to criminal justice purposes and the safety, health and wellness of justice practitioners and those coming into contact with the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
  • Developing Performance Standards and Testing Equipment—ensures that the unique equipment used by criminal and juvenile justice agencies is safe, reliable, and performs according to established, minimum and evidence-based standards. Among other activities, ORET manages the national testing program that certifies the safety of the body armor worn by law enforcement officers.

The research carried out in ORET has spanned almost all aspects of the criminal and juvenile justice systems. The research agenda driven by ORET supports both long-standing, focused research programs and responds to emerging needs.

Research, development, testing, and evaluation funded out of ORET include a range of methodologies and data collection and analytic techniques; competitive research awards are made in the form of grants and cooperative agreements (see Comparing Grants and Competitive Agreements for more information).

To support NIJ’s strategic and overarching research goals, we have developed a series of strategic research plans on topics within crime and justice that span NIJ’s two science offices. These plans build off of existing research knowledge; input about research needs gathered from practitioners, policymakers and researchers; and the priorities of Congress and the Administration.

Collaboration with Peers, Policymakers and Practitioners. NIJ’s scientists and engineers collaborate with their peers from across the government, industry and academia as well as the other science offices within NIJ. This collaboration ensures that we are both informing the scientific community about the issues faced by criminal justice policymakers and practitioners and engaging top researchers to drive innovation to address those needs.

Scientists continually conduct intramural research and learn from the people who work day-to-day with the issues. We sponsor meetings, workshops and working groups that bring together researchers, policymakers, technologists and practitioners. These meetings generate a rich exchange of ideas. They guide future research and help ensure that our research, development and evaluation activities meet real-world needs.

Organization of the NIJ Office of Research, Evaluation, and Technology

ORET is led by Office Director Chris Tillery and is organized into three divisions—the  Technology and Standards Division; the Criminal Justice Systems Division; and the Crime, Delinquency, and Victimization Prevention Division.

RED develops, conducts, directs and supervises social and behavioral science research and evaluation activities across a wide variety of criminal and juvenile justice issues, focused on the causes and correlates of crime. Violence prevention and response to victimization are areas of research that are of particular interest to RED.

The Technology and Standards Division develops, conducts, directs and supervises social and behavioral science and STEM science research, development and evaluation activities focused on improving criminal and juvenile justice systems’ and their responses to crime, violence, and delinquency. Division scientists and engineers also manage NIJ’s performance standards and testing program.

Date Published: July 6, 2022