Discretionary grants awarded under the Bureau of Justice Assistance's (BJA) Byrne Program help state and local governments make communities safe and improve criminal justice. Discretionary grants awarded under BJA's Violence Against Women Office (VAWO) programs are aimed at improving criminal justice system responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) awarded $6 million for five Byrne Program and five VAWO discretionary grant program evaluations between 1995 and 2001. Of the 10 programs evaluated, all five VAWO evaluations were designed to be both process and impact evaluations of the VAWO programs. Only one of the five Byrne evaluations was designed as an impact evaluation and the other four evaluations were process evaluations. GAO's in-depth review of the four impact evaluations since fiscal year 1995 showed that only one of these--the evaluation of the Byrne Children at Risk Program--was methodologically sound. The other three evaluations, all of which examined VAWO programs, had methodological problems.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Justice||1. The Attorney General should instruct the Director of NIJ to assess the two VAWO impact evaluations that are in the formative stage to address any potential methodological design and implementation problems and, on the basis of that assessment, initiate any needed interventions to help ensure that the evaluations produce definitive results.|
|Department of Justice||2. The Attorney General should instruct the Director of NIJ to assess its evaluation process with the purpose of developing approaches to ensure that future impact evaluation studies are effectively designed and implemented so as to produce definitive results.|