As this issue of the NIJ Journal goes to press, I am approaching my two-year anniversary as NIJ Director. I could use a number of words to describe my experience — challenging, rewarding, frustrating and fulfilling are some that come to mind. Upon my arrival, I set forth 10 goals for the Institute. We have made progress toward many of these goals while facing challenges in others. Despite these challenges, we endeavor to reaffirm NIJ's commitment to science. Although all of our goals and related efforts are important, I want to highlight three.
Establish NIJ as the leader in science-based research on crime and justice
I have placed a major emphasis on translational criminology, which seeks to bridge the gap between research, policy and practice. NIJ is thinking hard about how to translate and disseminate its research findings. We launched several initiatives that will help NIJ establish itself as the leader in science-based crime and justice research. These include a new Office of Research Partnerships that will build relationships; leverage resources; and initiate, manage and coordinate internal and external partnerships.
Create an organizational culture grounded in science and research
We have taken steps toward creating an organizational culture grounded in science and research. For example, we have hired Dr. Greg Ridgeway as a new Senior Executive Service-level Deputy Director to oversee NIJ's three science offices. Having a high-quality scientist in this key leadership position is essential for institutionalizing science at NIJ. In addition, we piloted several standing peer-review panels to strengthen our review processes and put it on par with those of other highly respected federal science agencies. We also breathed new life into our Visiting Fellows Program and started an Executive Fellows Program.
Obtain more money for social science research, and achieve integration between the physical, forensic and social sciences
Though budget challenges loom large, we have made some progress toward our goal of obtaining more money for social science research. In fiscal year 2012, we have a 2 percent budget set aside to spend on research and statistics priorities with our sister agency, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). BJS and NIJ have launched several new projects, including mining administrative police records for statistical and research purposes and examining the victim-offender overlap. In addition, NIJ is developing research portfolios in new areas, including desistance from crime, race and victimization, and indigent defense.
In terms of integrating the three bedrock sciences at NIJ, we have made some significant advancement. For example, we have a number of joint projects focusing on law enforcement officer safety, evaluation of police strategies and crime mapping, which draw on the physical and social sciences. We also have an active program of research on social science and forensic science.
Although we have accomplished much in meeting our goals, there is still work to be done. I welcome your suggestions on how NIJ can improve its efforts, especially with regard to outreach and research dissemination to you — our stakeholders.
John H. Laub
Director, National Institute of Justice
NIJ Journal No. 270, June 2012