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Overview of the NIJ Office of Science and Technology
NIJ’s Office of Science and Technology (OST) is the federal government’s lead agency for work in criminal justice technology. OST’s mission is to improve criminal justice policy and practice through the application of technology and technology-related knowledge. To accomplish this, OST undertakes research, development, testing and evaluation projects; develops equipment performance testing standards; manages equipment conformity assessment activities; and informs federal policy as it relates to the application of technology applied to criminal justice purposes.
OST accomplishes this work with a staff of skilled scientists and engineers through a program incorporating elements of both extramural and intramural research. 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 Science and Technology
OST's major activities include technology- and technology-policy-related research and development, and standards development and conformity assessment.
Research and Development. OST follows a research, development, testing and evaluation process that aligns NIJ's research investments with the operational needs and requirements of the criminal justice practitioner.
The process has four phases:
- Determine technology-related needs through structured engagement with the practitioner community.
- Develop program plans to address those needs.
- Develop potential solutions.
- Demonstrate, test and evaluate potential solutions.
OST’s key research objectives include:
- Significantly reduce officer fatalities and disabling injuries.
- Significantly reduce in-custody deaths and injuries.
- Improve the efficacy of offender supervision to promote safety and reduce recidivism.
- Implement broad-band communications to better ensure public safety.
- Improve decision-making to better reduce crime and promote justice.
- Improve the delivery of information to the practitioner.
Standards Development and Conformity Assessment. The Standards and Conformity Assessment Program supports development and publication of needed equipment standards that specifically address the unique needs of law enforcement, corrections and other criminal justice agencies. The goal is to ensure, to the degree possible, that equipment is safe and reliable and that it performs according to established minimum requirements. Learn more about the program.
National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Centers. OST manages the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Centers. The Centers serve to (1) help inform NIJ’s technology research activities (including in the area of forensic science) and (2) support the transfer and adoption of new or existing tools into practice by criminal justice agencies.
Collaboration with Peers, Policymakers and Practitioners. NIJ’sscientists and engineerscollaborate 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.
We also 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 Science and Technology
OST is led by Office Director Chris Tillery and is organized into the Research Division and the Policy and Standards Division.
- The Research Division, led by William Ford, is primarily responsible for research, development, test and evaluation projects and activities related to the introduction of new tools and technologies into practice by criminal justice agencies, but not those directly related to questions of policy, performance standards or conformity assessment.
- The Policy and Standards Division, led by Mark Greene, is primarily responsible for research, development, test and evaluation activities and projects directly related to the introduction into practice by criminal justice agencies of (1) new or improved technology-related policies and (2) equipment performance standards and related conformity assessment programs.
OST'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.