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Second Progress Report: NIJ's Response to "Strengthening the National Institute of Justice"


Message from NIJ Director John H. Laub in response to the report Strengthening the National Institute of Justice by the Committee on Assessing the Research Program of the National Institute of Justice at the National Research Council.

This page provides updates on our response to the results of an evaluation by The National Academy of Sciences that examined NIJ capacity for meeting the needs of the criminal justice field.

It has been six months since I was sworn in as the Director of NIJ. From my first days, I have emphasized the importance of the National Research Council (NRC) report, Strengthening the National Institute of Justice, and of a prompt and comprehensive response from NIJ to its recommendations. Even as the agency turns to face the demands — and the uncertainty — of a new fiscal year, we have not lost our focus on this important effort.

At the conclusion of two parallel series of staff discussions about the report (see previous post), NIJ's executive staff and nonexecutive staff each prepared a detailed response to the NRC report. In November, I convened a series of open meetings with all NIJ staff to begin to consolidate and reconcile the two draft documents. As I anticipated, the staff's draft responses enthusiastically supported, in their entirety, many of the recommendations in the NRC report. At the same time, the staff clearly grasped the difficulty we face in resolving the issues of how best to ensure the agency's independence and how to respond to the NRC's recommendation regarding capacity-building programs at NIJ. Notwithstanding those challenges, I have been heartened by the willingness of the staff to talk about the tough issues that face the agency and by their willingness to use the discussions as an opportunity to draw a new roadmap to a stronger NIJ.

In December, Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson attended an NIJ all-hands meeting and talked with the staff about her reactions to the report, and she heard from staff about their continuing concerns regarding the difficult issues the report raised. The discussion was frank and candid. I am grateful to Assistant Attorney General Robinson for her leadership and for the opportunity to build strong, effective partnerships with the other Office of Justice Programs bureaus.

This month, a consolidated version of our response to the NRC report was circulated to all NIJ staff for final review and comment. I hope to release that response, together with an implementation plan, to the broader criminal justice community by the end of February.