Director’s Corner: Upcoming Solicitations for Fiscal Year 2016

I am excited to tell you about NIJ's upcoming solicitations. Fiscal year 2016 will reflect some key shifts at NIJ. Our overarching priority has not changed: to strengthen science and advance justice. But, for those of you who follow us closely and apply each year, you will see a few changes. The main goal of these changes is to better align NIJ's internal structure and processes with the research needs of the field and the priorities of the Administration. This realignment will nurture NIJ as a scientific agency and help us better support the researchers and practitioners whom we serve.

Multidisciplinary Approach

Specifically, we are placing more emphasis on multidisciplinary approaches across our three science offices (social science, forensic science, and science and technology) as well as putting more emphasis on creating long-term research agendas. As I have said many times, criminal justice issues are multifaceted, and our research must draw on a range of expertise to solve problems and fill gaps in our knowledge. So, this year, our solicitations will be more reflective of the multidisciplinary expertise that occurs among practitioners in the field. Behavioral, technological and forensic research questions may all be covered in a single solicitation, requiring new collaborations and partnerships between different types of researchers and practitioners. I believe that when cross-discipline and complementary experts collaborate, we are more likely to see longer lasting and innovative, evidence-based solutions. Similarly, by outlining multiyear research priorities, I hope to better facilitate the collaborations, both inside and outside NIJ, to answer those research questions over the long term.

Fostering Partnerships

We believe that one of the most effective ways to make research relevant to the practitioner is to work side by side with those who will eventually be using the research to adopt evidence-based practices. Researcher-practitioner partnerships foster translational work by giving both sides the opportunity to see, firsthand, the impact of their joint efforts and make adjustments accordingly. In our fiscal year 2016 solicitations, we are expanding our traditional emphasis on researcher-practitioner partnerships and the dissemination and translation of research for practitioners; these principles will be reflected in several of our solicitations. NIJ will also be working with our sister agencies in the Office of Justice Programs to evaluate the outcomes and impact of their partnerships.

2016 Research Priorities

The specific research questions in NIJ solicitations change every year to reflect gaps in our knowledge and meet the needs of policymakers and practitioners. What does not change is our support for rigorous and innovative science that will deliver evidence-based knowledge about issues of great interest to the country and the administration of justice.

Fiscal year 2016 solicitations are now being drafted, reviewed and approved. At this time, I can say that we plan to issue solicitations on a variety of topics, several of which relate directly to the Administration's priorities, including research on:

  • Policing practices — including building and strengthening police-community relationships — and officer training, technology and wellness.
  • Longitudinal examination of violence and victimization among college-age individuals.
  • Illegal drug markets (including diversion of legal drugs) and criminal behavior.
  • The use of restrictive housing, and correctional officer safety and wellness.
  • Reducing firearms violence, and understanding the causes and effects of firearms violence.
  • Identifying best practices for testing and interpreting physical evidence.

You can read more on our Forthcoming Funding Opportunities page. By issuing more multidisciplinary solicitations that cover many of these priority areas, we hope to spur innovative ideas and useful collaborations across research fields.

Improving Grantee Support

As many of you know, NIJ is in the process of realigning the duties and responsibilities of our scientists and grant managers. This means that, once an award is made, professional grant managers focus on the major duties of administering the grant, and scientists focus on building and managing portfolios of research, including long-range planning and intramural scientific activities. This will streamline NIJ's processes to better serve our grantees and advance NIJ's scientific abilities. Another change for this year is that the point of contact for solicitations will be centralized rather than being assigned to various scientists. The centralized approach is designed to ensure more consistency and fairness in the competition for funding.

For more background on my priorities, read my previous Director's Corner messages.

For more information about our forthcoming solicitations, visit our Forthcoming Funding Opportunities page. From our Funding page, you can subscribe to receive alerts when solicitations are open, read descriptions of our past awards, and get details on how to apply.

Date Created: November 16, 2015