–A–
Findings and Recommendations

This appendix lists the panel’s findings and recommendations for ease of reference.

Finding 3.1: As currently configured and funded, the NCVS is not achieving and cannot achieve BJS’s legislatively mandated goal to “collect and analyze data that will serve as a continuous and comparable national social indication of the prevalence, incidence, rates, extent, distribution, and attributes of crime …” (42 U.S.C. 3732(c)(3)).


Recommendation 3.1: BJS must ensure that the nation has quality annual estimates of levels and changes in criminal victimization.


Recommendation 3.2: Congress and the administration should ensure that BJS has a budget that is adequate to field a survey that satisfies the goal in Recommendation 3.1.


Recommendation 3.3: BJS should continue to use the NCVS to assess crimes that are difficult to measure and poorly reported to police. Special studies should be conducted periodically in the context of the NCVS program to provide more accurate measurement of such events.


Recommendation 4.1: BJS should carefully study changes in the NCVS survey design before implementing them.



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–A– Findings and Recommendations This appendix lists the panel’s findings and recommendations for ease of reference. Finding 3.1: As currently configured and funded, the NCVS is not achieving and cannot achieve BJS’s legislatively mandated goal to “collect and analyze data that will serve as a continuous and comparable national social indication of the prevalence, in- cidence, rates, extent, distribution, and attributes of crime . . .” (42 U.S.C. 3732(c)(3)). Recommendation 3.1: BJS must ensure that the nation has qual- ity annual estimates of levels and changes in criminal victim- ization. Recommendation 3.2: Congress and the administration should ensure that BJS has a budget that is adequate to field a survey that satisfies the goal in Recommendation 3.1. Recommendation 3.3: BJS should continue to use the NCVS to assess crimes that are difficult to measure and poorly reported to police. Special studies should be conducted periodically in the context of the NCVS program to provide more accurate mea- surement of such events. Recommendation 4.1: BJS should carefully study changes in the NCVS survey design before implementing them. 145

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146 SURVEYING VICTIMS Recommendation 4.2: Changing from a 6-month reference pe- riod to a 12-month reference period has the potential for im- proving the precision per-unit cost in the NCVS framework, but the extent of loss of measurement quality is not clear from exist- ing research based on the post-1992-redesign NCVS instrument. BJS should sponsor additional research—involving both exper- imentation as well as analysis of the timing of events in extant data—to inform this trade-off. Recommendation 4.3: BJS should make supplements a regular feature of the NCVS. Procedures should be developed for solic- iting ideas for supplements from outside BJS and for evaluating these supplements for inclusion in the survey. Recommendation 4.4: BJS should maintain the core set of screening questions in the NCVS but should consider streamlin- ing the incident form (either by eliminating items or by changing their periodicity). Recommendation 4.5: BJS should investigate the use of model- ing NCVS data to construct and disseminate subnational esti- mates of major crime and victimization rates. Recommendation 4.6: BJS should develop, promote, and coor- dinate subnational victimization surveys through formula grants funded from state-local assistance resources. Recommendation 4.7: BJS should investigate changing the sam- ple design to increase efficiency, thus allowing more precision for a given cost. Changes to investigate include: (i) changing the number or nature of the first-stage sampling units; (ii) changing the stratification of the primary sampling units; (iii) changing the stratification of housing units; (iv) selecting housing units with unequal probabilities, so that probabilities are higher where victimization rates are higher; and (v) alternative person-level sampling schemes (sampling or subsampling persons within housing units). Recommendation 4.8: BJS should investigate the introduction of mixed mode data collection designs (including self-administered modes) into the NCVS.

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APPENDIX A 147 Recommendation 4.9: The falling response rates of NCVS are likely to continue, with attendant increasing field costs to avoid their decline. BJS should sponsor nonresponse bias studies, fol- lowing current OMB guidelines, to guide trade-off decisions among costs, response rates, and nonresponse error. Recommendation 5.1: BJS should establish a scientific advisory board for the agency’s programs; a particular focus should be on maintaining and enhancing the utility of the NCVS. Recommendation 5.2: BJS should perform additional and ad- vanced analysis of NCVS data. To do so, BJS should expand its capacity in the number and training of personnel and the ability to let contracts. Recommendation 5.3: BJS should undertake research to contin- uously evaluate and improve the quality of NCVS estimates. Recommendation 5.4: BJS should continue to improve the avail- ability of NCVS data and estimates in ways that facilitate user access. Recommendation 5.5: The Census Bureau and BJS should en- sure that geographically identified NCVS data are available to qualified researchers through the Census Bureau’s research data centers, in a manner that ensures proper privacy protection. Recommendation 5.6: The Statistical Policy Office of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget is uniquely positioned to identify instances in which statistical agencies have been unable to perform basic sample or survey maintenance functions. For example, BJS was unable to update the NCVS household sample to reflect population and household shifts identified in the 2000 census until 2007. The Statistical Policy Office should note such breakdowns in basic survey maintenance functions in its annual report Statistical Programs of the United States Government. Recommendation 5.7: Because BJS is currently receiving inad- equate information about the costs of the NCVS, the Census Bureau should establish a data-based, data-driven survey cost and information system.

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148 SURVEYING VICTIMS Recommendation 5.8: BJS should consider a survey design com- petition in order to get a more accurate reading of the feasibility of alternative NCVS redesigns. The design competition should be administered with the assistance of external experts, and the competition should include private organizations under contract and the Census Bureau under an interagency agreement.